Symptoms of a Failing or Bad Fuel Pump and What to Do

Almost every modern vehicle equipped with an internal combustion engine has a fuel pump. This component is necessary to deliver fuel to the engine from the gas tank at the appropriate amount and pressure to enhance performance and keep up with demands. When you turn the key in the ignition, the fuel pump pressurizes and activates, which can sometimes be heard as a quiet hum or whine.


Most fuel pumps are found in the fuel tank and are electric in modern cars. However, some vehicles use mechanical-style or inline pumps. Because the fuel pump supplies your engine with the fuel necessary to run, any issues can cause significant performance and drivability problems. Many times, a failing or bad fuel pump has a variety of symptoms that are noticeable if you pay attention.

Whining Noises

While you may hear a quiet hum from the fuel tank, you aren’t going to hear anything excessively loud. If you do hear a loud whine, somewhat like the sound of a teakettle reaching appropriate temperature, it’s a sure sign that something is wrong. It is likely to come directly from the fuel tank, but you can hear it while in the car. You may have a damaged pump, not have enough fuel, or have contaminated fuel. Regardless of the issue, it’s something to have checked out by a trusted mechanic.

Starting Issues

Another issue that’s commonly associated with a faulty fuel pump is having trouble starting the vehicle. The fuel pump must constantly run when the ignition is ‘on,’ which means it can eventually weaken or wear out over time. A weakened pump can still pump the fuel, but there is a lower amount of pressure, which can cause you to have troubles starting the engine. You may notice that it takes more cranks for the engine to fire and may cause multiple tries with the key to get it to start.

You should have this issue checked by a mechanic to determine if the fuel pump is going bad and needs to be replaced.

Sputtering Engine

A sure-fire sign that your fuel pump is faulty is if your engine sputters, usually at high speeds. If you’re driving at a higher speed consistently and your engine sputters and almost immediately returns to its normal operation, it’s indicative of fuel pump woes. It means the fuel pump isn’t providing a constant fuel stream to the engine at an ideal pressure.


If the engine stalls, it can be caused by many issues within your vehicle, but pay attention to what you’re doing when it happens. If it primarily occurs when your car’s thermometer shows a higher temperature, it could mean that the problem lies with the fuel pump’s motor. If the stalling continues to happen while the temperature rises or fluctuates, it’s an indication that the fuel pump is deteriorating and needs to be replaced.

Car Surges

A car surge feels like your gas pedal has been used, but it happens at a consistent speed and is random. This can occur when the fuel pump motor provides irregular resistance and indicates that you need to get the fuel pump repaired or replaced. It can happen quite often while you’re driving.

Low Gas Mileage

While most people don’t keep track of how often they fill up, you may notice that you’re filling up your gas tank more than usual. You probably aren’t imagining it if you have an issue with the fuel pump. The fuel pump valve might not open properly, which causes more fuel to be poured into the engine. It doesn’t get used or stored and is dumped.


Symptoms of a Failing or Bad Fuel Pump and What to Do

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