When your fuel pump goes out, it can hurt both your vehicle and your wallet. The price of a fuel pump repair or replacement can vary extensively from vehicle to vehicle, but estimates for replacing a fuel pump in our sample vehicles range from about $380 to $780, including parts and labor.
If you’re having car trouble and you’re either wondering if your fuel pump is at fault or budgeting to get it fixed, keep reading. We’ll cover what symptoms to look for, the different types of fuel pumps and the overall cost of replacement.
How does a fuel pump work?
Most modern vehicle fuel pumps are located on the gas tank.
Generally speaking, a fuel pump takes fuel from your tank and helps deliver it to your engine through your fuel system. However, not all fuel pumps work the same. There are two main types of fuel pumps for automobiles: mechanical and electric.
Mechanical fuel pumps involve a lever, a crankshaft and either a diaphragm or a plunger. The lever is connected to a camshaft, which moves it up and down, operating the diaphragm or plunger to pump fuel through a series of one-way valves.
This type of fuel pump isn’t as common since carburetors fell out of use in cars, but if your vehicle has a mechanical fuel pump, it’ll be cheaper to replace it with another mechanical unit.
Electric fuel pumps function similarly, except that, instead of being powered by a crankshaft, they are operated by an electric motor. Electric fuel pumps are common in modern vehicles with fuel injection systems. These types of pumps can also help decrease gas usage and help pre-deliver fuel for more advanced fuel systems, like those found in vehicles that stop and start when idling at a stoplight.
Symptoms of a bad fuel pump
Here are a few common symptoms of a failing fuel pump:
- Overheating: If your engine starts to overheat regularly (signaled either on your dashboard or by your engine starting to stall out), it could mean that your spark plugs are bad or your engine isn’t getting enough fuel.
- Stalling, misfiring or rough idling: These symptoms can be signs of low fuel pressure, which can be caused by a bad fuel pump.
- Lots of noises: If you’re hearing pops, bangs or other noises, they could be caused by a bad fuel pump. In many cases, you won’t hear your fuel pump at all until it starts to go bad, so hearing these sounds can be unsettling. However, if you know what to listen for, the sound of your fuel pump at start-up can be a sign that it’s working properly.
- Difficulty accelerating: If your vehicle is having a hard time accelerating, it might have low fuel pressure due to a faulty fuel pump.
- Unusually high gas usage: Decreasing gas mileage isn’t just annoying and expensive; it’s also a sign that your fuel pump isn’t working efficiently. If you notice that you have to fill up more often and your driving habits haven’t changed, your fuel pump could be malfunctioning.
- Trouble starting: A dead engine can mean a lot of things, but it can also mean that your vehicle is unable to send fuel to the engine when it needs it. This is a sign that your fuel pump isn’t working.
Most fuel pumps last for about 100,000 miles. So if your vehicle is nearing that milestone, you’ll likely need to start looking for symptoms. Of course, your fuel pump can go out at any time due to a faulty plumbing job, bad fuel or overuse.
Also, the above symptoms aren’t definitive proof of a bad fuel pump. Other parts of your fuel system, like your fuel filter, can cause similar problems, and the only way to be sure is to start testing.
How to test a fuel pump
There are a number of ways you can test your fuel pump at home. A simple way to tell if your fuel pump is working at all is to turn your key to the “On” position (just short of “Start”) and listen for the buzz of your fuel pump behind you. If you have the mechanical aptitude, you can also rent or purchase a fuel pressure gauge at a local auto parts store to see if your engine is getting fuel. Neither of these tests is definitive, but they can help you learn where your problem might be.
For an official diagnosis, we recommend contacting a licensed mechanic.”
For an official diagnosis, we recommend contacting a licensed mechanic. They should be able to tell if it’s your fuel pump or something else and recommend the right course of action.
How much to replace a fuel pump?
Fuel pump replacement costs vary from vehicle to vehicle, so we gathered estimates for replacing a fuel pump in three sample vehicles in Austin, Texas, to give you examples of what this service might cost. See the results below.
|Vehicle||Parts cost||Labor cost||Total cost|
|2016 Honda Civic||$215.32 to $370.07||$301.16 to $409.27||$516.47 to $779.34|
|2016 Ford F-150||$133.27 to $229.06||$246.40 to $334.85||$379.68 to $563.92|
|2018 BMW 740i||$361.42 to $621.19||$91.26 to $124.02||$452.68 to $745.21|
*Estimates gathered from AAA’s car repair estimate tool.
This is also a good opportunity to replace your fuel filter and fuel tank, if necessary.
These costs will vary for you depending on what car you drive and the mechanic you work with. In general, luxury cars have more expensive parts, and labor costs usually depend on how difficult your vehicle's fuel pump is to access.
As mentioned above, if you have an older vehicle with a manual fuel pump and want to replace it with an electric one, you should expect to spend quite a bit more on this process. That’s because changing out a manual fuel pump for an electric one requires new wiring, plumbing and equipment, not to mention a lot of testing and troubleshooting to make sure everything works how it should. Converting to a fuel injector is often better handled by specialty shops used to working on older cars.
How much does it cost to repair a fuel pump?
If you can’t afford an outright fuel pump replacement, you might be able to get away with a repair on your fuel pump. Just know that repairs are considered temporary fixes, and unlike repairing a transmission or engine, you will likely need an entirely new unit soon.
Most mechanics will recommend an entire fuel pump replacement as it will save you time and money in the long run. So, while replacement might not be the cheapest option now, it is often the most cost-effective down the road.
What to do after replacing the fuel pump
Many mechanics recommend that you take a long drive after you replace your fuel pump, as this will allow your system to completely burn up all the old, dirty gas while you make sure everything is working. You should also make sure that your first post-replacement gas tank fill-up is with good gas of the correct octane for your vehicle.
As for maintenance, it’s recommended that you replace your fuel filter every 15,000 miles. Also, if you don’t burn through an entire fuel tank in about two weeks, add an anti-ethanol agent to your fuel tank so there's no separation. Bad fuel can clog and ruin not only your fuel pump but also your entire fuel system.
Frequently asked questions
- How much is a fuel pump?
- According to our estimates, the average parts cost for a new fuel pump is between roughly $133 and $621. Your costs will depend on your vehicle and what type of fuel pump it uses. If you want a more specific estimate, use the parts finder on an auto parts website to find a fuel pump that matches your vehicle.
- How long is a fuel pump supposed to last?
- Most fuel pumps last at least 100,000 miles with average driving habits. That being said, some vehicles have fuel pumps that last over 200,000 miles.
- Do extended car warranties cover fuel pumps?
- Yes, extended auto warranties can cover fuel pumps. Fuel pumps are usually considered part of the powertrain, which is covered by most extended car warranties. That being said, it’s important to read the fine details to make sure this is the case for your specific policy.
- Does car insurance cover fuel pumps?
- No, not usually. Car insurance only covers repairs due to specific events, like running into another vehicle or your car being vandalized. Items in your vehicle that malfunction on their own are not usually covered by most insurance plans.
- Article sources
- ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page.
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