Why Is My Car Sluggish Lately
A new car drives like a dream and you can retain that performance for years with regular service. But, as cars get older, components start wearing out, strange symptoms appear and occasional repairs become necessary. If your car appears sluggish or you notice sudden unexplained bursts of speed, you should get the fuel pump checked.
The fuel pump is a long-lasting component and you are unlikely to have any problems for many years, but it will eventually wear out. If the fuel pump malfunctions or fails, it must be replaced.
Function Of A Fuel Pump
An automobile engine needs a continuous supply of fuel at the right pressure. The job of the fuel pump is to provide the optimum amount of fuel according to the changing demands of the engine. In most modern vehicles, the pump is installed inside the gas tank and it lies submerged in the fuel. This keeps it cool and working well.
When it works well, the electrically operated pump ensures adequate and uninterrupted fuel supply to the engine. The low whine that you hear when you turn the ignition key is the sound of the fuel pump. If it malfunctions, the engine does not get the right amount of fuel. That’s when strange symptoms start to appear.
Symptoms Of Fuel Pump Problems
If you experience any of the following issues, you could be having a faulty fuel pump.
1. Abnormal sound during operation.
The normal sound of a fuel pump is a low barely-audible hum that starts when you turn the ignition key. An unusually loud high-pitched whine or howling noise is a sign of a worn-out pump. Your car is still drivable, but if you don’t get the issue fixed quickly, it could lead to an unexpected and inconvenient breakdown.
2. Engine misfires or sputters.
An engine that does not get reliable fuel supply cannot perform efficiently. As the pump struggles to maintain adequate fuel supply, the fuel pressure becomes irregular and the air to fuel ratio in the engine will be abnormal. This results in engine stalls, sputters or misfires.
The problem is likely to get worse at high speeds or when the engine is under stress. When the engine has to work harder, for example, while climbing a hill, fuel demand increases. A faulty pump will struggle to meet this demand.
3. Intermittent loss of power and speed surge.
When fuel pressure goes down suddenly, you will experience a loss of power. You may find it necessary to depress the accelerator more than usual to maintain the same speed. When the erratic fuel supply momentarily normalizes, you will experience an unexpected burst of speed.
4. Poor fuel economy.
A faulty pump may not be able to supply the optimum amount of fuel to the engine. Your fuel economy could suffer.
5. Starting problems.
If the pump fails completely or is near total failure, you will begin to experience starting problems. The engine will crank, but will not start due to inadequate fuel. This is very different from a low battery situation where the engine does not crank at all. A failed fuel pump is an acute situation. It usually happens after you have experienced the other symptoms for a while. It is best to get the pump checked before it reaches this point.
Fixing Fuel Pump Problems
A fuel pump failure occurs only when the vehicle is several years old. Over the years, your fuel tank would have accumulated dirt and debris. It is necessary to clean the tank before replacing the pump. If the tank is not cleaned, it may reduce the life of the new fuel pump.
Before replacing the pump, your mechanic will drain out all the fuel and remove the old pump. The tank is then cleaned and dried thoroughly before installing the new pump. Besides improving pump life, a clean fuel tank will improve engine life and fuel economy. To ensure trouble-free operation, get the pump replaced at a good garage that uses quality spares.
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