How Do You Know If the Fuel Pump on Your Vehicle Is Going Bad?

For your car to function as it should, it must receive an uninterrupted and predictable fuel supply. While several different components are involved, the fuel pump is the beating heart of the system, and if it begins to malfunction, many issues can arise. What do you need to know about the fuel pump and its location, and how do you know if it is starting to fail?

How the System Works

Most modern-day vehicles have a fuel tank at the rear, and it is connected to the engine compartment by braided hoses that run beneath the chassis. In this compartment is a fuel rail that distributes the fuel to the electronic ignition system and, eventually, into the combustion chambers within the engine. On older vehicles, a mechanical distributor takes the place of the electronic ignition system.

Locating the Pump

The fuel pump is responsible for drawing the liquid out of the tank and sending it to the engine bay. Usually, the pump is located within the tank itself, although it may be placed within the engine compartment on older vehicles.


The pump is a sealed unit and does not require any regular maintenance. It ought to last a long time but, as with anything else mechanical, can fail prematurely.

Early Signs of a Problem

When this happens, it will definitely affect the supply of fuel to the engine. The flow could become intermittent, and this will lead to a "stuttering" effect as you try to accelerate the vehicle. More worryingly, the pump could send fuel down the line when it is not required, and this may cause the vehicle to jump forward unexpectedly when stationary.

Other Signs of Trouble

Alternatively, the engine may begin to overheat as it is not functioning as it should, and you may notice a "check engine light" on the dashboard. You may also see that you are paying a lot more at the pump than you are used to due to the sporadic delivery. Of course, the ultimate scenario is that the car will not start because the pump has failed altogether.

A Job for the Experts

If you have a car fitted with an in-tank pump, you will have little choice but to take the vehicle to a professional mechanic for their attention. They will need to pay close attention to safety as they do any work in or around the fuel tank, and this is not something that you want to try yourself.