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Seven Fuel Pump Warning Signs

The fuel pump's job is pretty self-explanatory: to pump fuel from the gas tank to the engine. So it's a no-brainer that a malfunctioning fuel pump is bad news. It's important to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of a faulty fuel pump—that way you can address any problems before it's too late.

1. Engine Sputters at High Speeds

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One of the best indicators of a failing fuel pump is found on the road while driving your car at a consistently high speed. If the vehicle suddenly sputters and then resumes regular performance, there may be something wrong with the fuel pump. This engine sputtering happens because the pump is struggling to supply a constant stream of fuel to the engine at the proper pressure.

2. Rising Temperature

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The temperature of the car can predict a fuel pump emergency. Pay attention to your temperature gauge; if the heat rises and the car stalls, this may mean the fuel pump motor is having problems. If it continues to stall out, this is a clear sign that the fuel pump may be starting to deteriorate and needs to be replaced.

3. Fuel Pressure Gauge

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The fuel pressure gauge shows how much fuel is getting to the engine. You can check the gauge while someone else is revving the car. Check the owner's manual to see how much pressure should be exerted when the pump is operating properly—anything less than that is a signal that your fuel pump needs immediate attention.

4. Loss of Power When the Vehicle Is Under Stress

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A car is put under stress when climbing a hill or hauling heavy cargo. In these situations, the weakening elements of the fuel pump will start to cause trouble and the pump will be unable to keep up with the vehicle's fuel demands, leading to a loss of overall power.

5. Surging

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Sometimes a vehicle will be moving along normally at a consistent speed and then, out of nowhere, it will pick up and surge forward, as if the gas pedal had been depressed. This is caused by irregular resistance within the fuel pump motor.

6. Decreased Gas Mileage

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Always take notice of how often you're fueling up your car. Fuel pumps have a relief valve; if the relief valve is failing to open, more fuel than necessary will flow into the engine system. If your vehicle typically gets decent gas mileage and then suddenly becomes a gas hog, there could be an emergency under the hood.

7. Engine Will Not Start

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Drivers who ignore the warning signs above will eventually end up with an engine that refuses to start. When a fuel pump completely malfunctions, fuel cannot reach the engine upon ignition. If this happens, the engine will crank and rev but never catch. To diagnose a fuel pump malfunction, check for a blown fuse and/or low pressure in the fuel line.

As a vital part of the internal combustion engine system, the fuel pump is something that all drivers need to keep in mind. If your car is experiencing any of the signs above, visit your local Pep Boys to find out what's going on. To learn about other warning signs your car is trying to tell you, visit us at car care corner to find everything you need to know.