How to prevent your car’s fuel pump from failing


Nowadays with the rise in cases of petrol stations adulterating fuel, it is common to see individuals on social media complaining of fuel pump failure. In the most recent case Shell petrol stations were pointed out to be culprits in the fuel adulteration game. The marketers usually add kerosene in a bid to maximize profits at the expense of motorists who suffer the risk of damaged engines due to the contaminated fuel.

A fuel pump is one of those parts in a vehicle that you generally do not think about until it suddenly dies on you in the middle of nowhere. This happened to me over the Easter weekend and I can tell you it wasn’t funny. The fuel pump is tasked with pumping a vehicles fuel from the tank to its engine and a failure of the same can be disastrous. Most cars nowadays use an electronic fuel pump which is located in the gas tank. The electronic system works by spraying a fine mist of fuel inside the engine’s chambers and is operated through a computer control system. The fuel pump has two purposes, that is pushing fuel from the gas tank to the fuel injector and creating the proper amount of pressure to ensure that the right amount of fuel is delivered to the engine regardless of external conditions.

So what would make the fuel pump fail? Following my incident over the Easter holidays i did a little research and came up with the following pointers that can help you avoid a disaster.

Ensure to replace your fuel filter regularly. A fuel filter generally protects the fuel injectors and the engine from damage that can be caused by dirty fuel. A clogged fuel filter due to debris that can be found in dirty fuel means that the fuel pump has to work harder to push fuel through a restricted filter. This causes stress and accelerated wear on the dozens of small components inside the fuel pump eventually leading to fuel pump failure. Replacing the fuel filter occasionally reduces the wear and tear to the fuel pump enabling it to serve you for a longer period of time.

Purchasing high quality fuel, always ensure to purchase your fuel in reputable petrol stations to avoid adulterated fuel. However, since even respectable brands like Shell have been accused of adulterating fuel, a friend advised me that the best thing is to avoid any petrol station stocking and selling kerosene.

Do not purchase fuel while a tanker is filling the station tanks. As the fuel is pumped into the tanks, debris in the tanks is stirred and if you fuel at that point in time this debris will end up in your fuel tank. This will lead to clogging up of the fuel filter and eventually lead to the failure of your fuel pump.

Driving on empty, sometimes we just forget to fill up the tank but there are some people who are notorious in driving while the gauge is at E. What many don’t know is that by doing this you are slowly killing your fuel pump. As the pump pushes the fuel to the engine with the excess fuel being sent back to the fuel tank, it has an effect of cooling down the fuel components and the fuel in your tank. In a situation whereby there is little fuel in the tank, the fuel heats up a lot quicker causing the fuel tank to overheat. If this happens over a long period the pump will eventually fail.

When replacing a fuel pump it is important to clean out any partials from the bottom of your gas tank and ensure that dirt does not enter it while reinstalling the fuel sending unit. There is no point in leaving dirt in the tank which can eventually lead to another failure.

As you have seen it is easy to prevent a fuel pump failure than to replace one. This is because replacing one usually comes with attendant costs that might include towing charges, hotel accommodation, cab fare and of course the mechanics charges. Sounds expensive doesn’t it, believe me I know as they say prevention is better than cure.

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