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What is a fuel pump and what does it do?

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Updated 11 Oct 2019Fionna Blackburne
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As the Black Eyed Peas said, “Pump it!”

The Fuel Pump is a mechanical or electrical device fitted away from the vehicle’s engine.

The fuel pump’s job is to “pump it” – it being fuel to the engine from the fuel tank, making it one of the most important mechanisms of an engine.

How do I know if I have a fuel pump problem?

You know you have a fuel pump issue if your vehicle is:

  1. Making a loud whining noise – and I don’t mean your kids in the back seat! Generally speaking, the fuel pump makes a nice little hum noise when the engine is running. however, if it starts to make a loud whining or howling noise whilst running, then you have an issue.
  2. Having Trouble starting? Does it take more cranks than normal to kick over? This is another sign there is an issue with your fuel pump as it wears out and weakens over time.
  3. A Sputtering/spitting noise coming from your engine when you are travelling at a high speed on the highway for more than 10 minutes. The engine will operate as normal then suddenly it will splutter/spit for a little then go back to normal. This is the most common symptom we see.
  4. Stalling when the vehicle is hot. A hot engine together with stalling can often indicate there is an issue with your fuel pump and it’s in need of replacement.
  5. Losing power when you are driving up a hill, carrying a large load or when you are accelerating. The vehicle will feel like its unable to maintain the power required to make it up the hill.
  6. Surging when you are maintaining a consistent speed. When you are driving at the speed limit and you feel like someone has pressed the accelerator, but you haven’t.
  7. Using more fuel. Are you filling up more than usual? This is yet another indication that the fuel pump is on its way out as it is causing more fuel than is required to dispense into the engine.
  8. Not starting. The engine will still crank but the vehicle will not start due to lack of fuel which means the fuel pump has failed entirely. This is the most severe symptom we see. 

Can a fuel pump be repaired, or does it have to be replaced?

It is possible to repair a fuel pump.

However, it is difficult to get the numerous parts that make up the fuel pump.

I have found it is more cost effective to replace the fuel pump than repair it.

In my workshop, we recommend you replace the fuel pump, the fuel filter and carry out a fuel system treatment.

It is a tricky job and the fuel pump is an integral part of the vehicle.

Therefore, I recommend it is fitted by a qualified technician.

What’s the cost?

A new fuel pump and fuel filter will set you back somewhere between $390 - $1600 depending greatly on the make and model of your vehicle.

The costly part of this job is the actual fuel pump itself which will come with a 12 or 24-month warranty.

Enjoy quick quotes and a simple online booking experience by using AutoGuru to compare and book high-quality, local mechanics. It’s is the easiest way to get your fuel pump replaced!

Hot Tip

Keep more than a quarter of a tank of fuel in your vehicle.

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Written ByFionna Blackburne

Fionna is the owner of Southeast Auto Mechanical in Beenleigh, Queensland. A former lawyer, Fionna decided on a radical career change, qualified as a light vehicle mechanic and took over Southeast Auto in 2016.

As well as delivering quality service to their customers, Fionna and her team run an award-winning, free car maintenance workshop program for women.