Your fuel pump sends fuel from your fuel tank to your engine. Sometimes fuel pumps fail – usually with little or no warning – and they need to be replaced. The majority of fuel pumps are inside the fuel tank, so getting to them can be a big deal. In some vehicles the fuel tank must be removed to access the pump. Depending on the design of the vehicle and the condition of the fuel tank, it may need to be replaced along with the pump. As you can imagine, that is pretty labor intensive. It’s also dangerous because that flammable fuel must be properly handled; so don’t try it at home. There are some best practices your service technician follows that you should know about.
First, it’s recommended that the entire fuel pump assembly, including the electrical relay, be replaced. When one component has failed, another one is probably close to failure. With all of the labor involved, replacing the entire assembly is a long term cost saver. Another best practice is to always use a quality replacement pump that matches your original equipment specifications. So-called universal replacement pumps may spin at a different speed than the engine management computer is calibrated for. The mis-match could cause performance and longevity issues.
There are some things you can do to help your fuel pump last longer. First, don’t let your fuel tank run too low. When fuel is low, the pump has to work very hard to suck up enough fuel from the bottom. Also, the pump is submerged in fuel which cools and lubricates it. Re-fueling at a quarter tank or so will extend fuel pump life. Also, E85 gasoline can damage your fuel pump if you do not have a Flex-Fuel vehicle. The high level of ethanol can damage seals in your fuel system creating a fire hazard.