Fuel Level Sensor Buyer’s Guide
- The fuel level sensor helps you monitor the fuel level inside your vehicle’s gas tank.
- It is usually located in the fuel tank or attached to the fuel pump carrier bracket. It is composed of three parts: the float, actuating rod, and resistor.
- Your factory-issued fuel level sensor is made to last the lifespan of your vehicle, but it can get worn out due to external factors.
- Symptoms of a bad fuel tank level sensor includes erratic readings and a fuel gauge that is always stuck on full or empty.
- Replacement fuel level sensors are available per piece, in sets of two, or as a kit with a price range of $10 to $170.
When driving, your decisions should always be based on accurate information. One of the decisions you regularly have to make is when to stop at a gas station to refill your gas tank. Without a fully functioning fuel level sensor, you may end up stranded on a highway because of inaccurate fuel level readings.
What is a fuel level sensor?
The fuel level sensor allows the driver to keep track of the amount of fuel left inside the vehicle’s fuel tank. It is what prevents car owners from getting stuck in the middle of the road due to an empty gas tank. Without the fuel level sensor, it’s near impossible for the driver to know the right time when to fill up their car with fuel.
Where is the fuel level sensor located?
This device is commonly situated in the fuel tank or attached to the fuel pump carrier bracket. Because of its location, you may have to remove the fuel tank or the fuel pump assembly before you can access the fuel level sensor to replace it.
How does a fuel level sensor work?
The fuel level sensor is often referred to as the “sender.” Meanwhile, the fuel gauge that can be located on your vehicle’s dashboard is called the “indicator” since it provides the actual information. The sensor that provides accurate information about the fuel level in your vehicle is composed of three components: a float, a resistor, and an actuating rod.
The float is often made from foam solid, sealed composite, or metal ellipsoid. It typically has an oval shape, and it rests on the surface of the fuel. Furthermore, it moves up and down as the level of diesel fuel or gasoline inside the fuel tank changes. It is connected to a thin metal rod called the actuating rod.
One end of the resistor is supplied with 12 volts of power from the car’s battery. There is also a wire that may connect the resistor to the fuel gauge or to a stepper or an electronic device, which processes the signal activating the mechanical gauge or digital readout.
This thin metal rod connects the float to the grounded variable resistor. Whenever the float drops as the fuel level decreases, the actuating rod’s movement also causes a wiper-like component in the resistor to move away from the resistive material. This then results in less current being passed to the gauge and consequently a decreasing reading. If the tank is empty, the gauge receives no current, preventing the needle to move from empty to full.
How long does a fuel level sensor last?
Your fuel level sensor is designed to have the same lifespan as your vehicle. However, there are several factors like wear and tear and other harmful elements that can prevent it from reaching its suggested service life. Once this part gets worn out, it may start acting up and provide you with false readings. For example, you may find your vehicle has run out of gas while the fuel gauge still continues to show that the tank is full.
What are the symptoms of a bad fuel tank level sensor?
When you lack the valuable information that your fuel level sensor provides, you are likely to miscalculate how long your fuel can go. This could put you in a terrible situation while you are on the road. To prevent this, you need to keep an eye out on the following symptoms of a bad fuel level sensor.
Erratic readings are a surefire sign that your fuel level sensor is faulty. If the needle in the fuel gauge changes every few minutes, the sensor may be giving it inaccurate information. You need to check this component as soon as you can to see if a replacement is in order.
Always running on empty
If your fuel gauge reads empty even though you just filled up your gas tank, this could be a sign that your fuel level sensor is failing. It can be caused by a damaged float or a float that has been separated from the actuating rod. Nevertheless, problems in the wiring or some other electrical components in the resistor could also be possible.
Always on full
If the needle in the fuel gauge is stuck on full, the resistor in the fuel level sensor might be the culprit. The resistor may be malfunctioning and is sending the wrong signal to the fuel gauge, causing it to read full all the time. If you are not paying enough attention, this may lull you into a false sense of security, thinking that you have sufficient fuel in your vehicle.
Can you install a replacement fuel level sensor on your own?
Some vehicles have access panels that make it easier to replace the fuel level sensor or even the fuel pump. However, if your car does not have these, you might need to remove the fuel tank with the proper tools and equipment. If that is something you are not 100 percent sure you can pull off, better leave it to the professionals. You can simply drive your vehicle to your trusted auto repair shop or call your mechanic to do the replacement for you.
How much does a fuel level sensor replacement cost?
The price range of a replacement fuel level sensor ranges from $10 to $170. You can get it per piece, in sets of two, or as a kit. To make sure that you will get the right part on CarParts.com, don’t forget to use our website’s vehicle selector.
Simply enter your vehicle’s year, make, and model in the built-in vehicle selector and this will allow us to provide the parts and accessories that are compatible with your ride. Many people usually find this convenient as it helps speed up their search. You can also use the different filtering options to narrow down the list. Moreover, you can categorize the parts based on price range, brand, location, and quantity sold.
How to Replace Your Vehicle's Fuel Level Sensor
As the food of your vehicle, the fuel should be inspected at all times. You would not want to stop in the middle of the road just because you have insufficient fuel, right? Hence, the fuel level sensor is there to guide you. It allows you to have an accurate knowledge of the fuel level in your ride, so you will always be aware of your refilling schedule. If you want to change the old one, worry not! Here are the procedures and tools that will help you:
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- Marker or grease pencil
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Lubricating oil
- New fuel level sensor
Step 1: You must disconnect the negative ground cable first from the battery terminal in your vehicle. This can prevent any electrical problems or accidents throughout the process.
Step 2: Find the location of the fuel tank where the fuel level sensor is close to. You can find it via looking at the gas pump icon, which points to the position of the tank.
Step 3: Once you have located the fuel tank, draw labels at the top area of the tank next to the old fuel level sensor. You can use a marker or a grease pencil for this matter. From there you can see the three terminals of the sensor. The labels will serve as marks for the proper placement of the new fuel level sensor later on.
Step 4: This time, detach the three wires on the top area of the old fuel level sensor. These wires are the ground, power, and switch. To remove them, grasp each wire's connector that is fastened to the terminal of the sensor, and lift each wire away afterwards. A flat-head screwdriver can be used for removal of wires that are fastened by screws.
Step 5: Pull the gasket or the lock ring of the sensor away with the help of a flat-head screwdriver once again. You can apply a lubricating oil on the lock ring or the gasket while rotating it away to lessen the friction.
Step 6: You may now remove the old fuel level sensor. If it is fastened with screws, move it in a counterclockwise motion until it is released. The screwdriver can be of help also.
Step 7: After setting aside the old fuel level sensor, you can install the new one. Follow the marks you have drawn earlier. If your new fuel level sensor needs to be fastened with screws, turn the fasteners in a clockwise motion this time.
Step 8: Reattach the gasket or the lock ring that you have removed earlier to your new fuel level sensor. Make sure that it is tightly secured.
Step 9: Reconnect the three wires that you have detached as well. If the wires are needed to be fastened with screws, do so with the help of the screwdriver once again.
Step 10: You may now re-establish the connection of the negative ground cable and the battery terminal.
Step 11: Turn on the engine in order to have a test drive. This will determine the efficiency of your new fuel level sensor.