Can I Drive With a Broken Fuel Pump?

close up of engine

What is a fuel pump?  

 Your vehicle has an engine and transmission and somehow through mechanical magic, your vehicle goes down the road, as long as you have fuel in the fuel tank. Have you given any thought how the fuel you put in the tank gets to the engine? It is the fuel pump that does that part, and when it quits working, it is either fuel pump repair or replacement. 

typical vehicle engine burns a mixture of air and fuel, with the fuel being  pumped through a hose that runs from the gas tank and is mixed with air in the carburetor. The engine then pulls that mixture and uses it to power the engine. There are mechanical fuel pumps that are attached directly to the engine, and there are electrical fuel pumps that are inside the gas tank.  In most cases, fuel pump repair is possible on a manual unit, however, the electrical fuel pump will need replacing. 

Are fuel pumps necessary?

A fuel pump sends fuel to the engine as we describe above. Without a fuel pump, the engine wouldn’t get a fuel delivery, which is proven when a fuel pump isn’t working. This will either cause your car to stall where it sits or you’ll have poor fuel mileage, an indication that possible fuel pump repair or replacement is necessary. 

How can I start my car with a bad fuel pump?

Yes, there are some methods that allow you to start your vehicle when it has a bad fuel pump, however, keep in mind, these are only for a temporary time. When the fuel pump is failing or has failed, you need to get your car to your mechanic post-haste. 

  • A Fuel Pressure Gauge – You can attach a fuel pressure gauge to the vehicle engine directly. This will allow the vehicle to start so that you can drive it to your mechanic. 
  • A Manual Pressure – By applying manual pressure, you can assist the fuel to pass through the lines and to the engine. 
  • The Engine Heat – The engine overheating due to a faulty fuel pump is possible, but if the car is shut off and cooled, the low temperature can also cause the pump to stall. Maintaining a consistent heat to the engine can allow you to drive the car far enough to reach a repair shop.

A fuel pump can often be located in a challenging location to gain access for fuel pump repair or replacement. Due to the superb technology of today, the location issue is minimized as electronic fuel pumps have become more the standard and last 100,000 miles or more. 

Can a fuel pump go out without warning?

Absolutely!  Fuel pump will fail without any warning, but there are often indications of a bad fuel pump that you may not realize. So, what are the signs of a bad fuel pump? A fuel pump is a much used component in a vehicle, and as such, it gets worn out. We are going to share 6 indications  that should warn you  that your vehicle may need fuel pump repair or replacement: 

  1. No sound when turning on the ignition:  A fuel pump starts before the engine, so, when you turn the key, you should hear the fuel pump engaged with a whirring noise. If you’re not hearing that sound, but your car is starting anyway, you’re probably going to need fuel pump repair or replacement soon. 
  2. Vehicle fails to start: If your vehicle is frequently being hard to start when you turn the ignition on, this is often an indication that a fuel pump repair or replacement could be needed, among other possible issues. Your mechanic will be able to check all components related to a vehicle starting.
  3. Power loss while accelerating: As you accelerate your vehicle, the fuel pump will supply more fuel to the engine. When a fuel pump isn’t doing this, you aren’t able to increase the speed, and will likely lose speed.  
  4. Sputtering at high speeds: A faulty fuel pump will sputter or make sudden jerking motions at high speeds, then lose speed without warning. This can be an indication your vehicle needs fuel pump repair or replacement. 
  5. The vehicle can’t climb hills: If your vehicle is losing power while climbing uphill, this is usually an indication fuel pump repair is needed because it doesn’t supply enough extra fuel needed. 
  6. Frequent stalls: A fuel pump with problems will stop pumping fuel unexpectedly. This will cause your vehicle to stall where it sits and only fuel pump repair or replacement, or a tow truck, is going to get you out of this situation. 

Can you drive with a bad fuel pump?

As we have mentioned, the fuel pump in your vehicles is an important component. If it isn’t working, your vehicle isn’t going to start or move. While a fuel pump can last up to 100,000 miles or more, driving conditions and habits can make a difference on how long they last. To minimize the chance of your vehicle’s fuel pump leaving you stranded, we recommend the following: 

  • Keep the gas tank no less than one-fourth. Constant driving near or on empty will burn out a fuel pump.  
  • Keep fuel pump maintenance up-to-date by having the filters inspected and replaced regularly. 
Fuel injector

How long will it take to replace a fuel pump?

Every vehicle is different, and a fuel pump repair and replacement can vary based on that and if the fuel pump is manual or electrical. It can also be dependent on the mechanic and their knowledge of how to repair a fuel pump. The average time is between four to five hours if the mechanic has the fuel pump or parts or has access to getting one from a supplier or parts house. 

As we have mentioned, the fuel pump isn’t a first thought for most drivers. With this article, we hope that is has brough it to your attention and you’re able to know when you need a fuel pump repair or replacement before you are stranded. Call 630-932-4427 today for your auto repair needs in Lombard and Wheaton, IL.