FAQs—Pontiac Fuel Pump
- I’ve been having problems with my fully restored car lately—it won’t start properly. It sort of sputters and stutters. A few blocks away from home, the car suddenly stalled. I think this has something to do with my Pontiac fuel pump. But how can I be sure?
Sputtering and stalling are signs of a bad fuel pump, but these can also be symptoms of other ailing parts in the system. To be sure, you should run some tests to check for power, pressure, and volume. Turn on the ignition and set it to accessory position. As you switch this on, an electric fuel pump should be making a sound. If you don’t hear the pump being turned on, then it may not be getting power. To check for pressure, you may use a fuel pressure gauge to see if there’s enough fuel flowing into the engine. Connect the gauge to the fuel pressure valve. Follow specific instructions on how to use the fuel gauge and use a manual to locate the valve. If there’s less pressure, then the problem may have something to do with a faulty fuel pump. If it’s too high, then the fuel pressure regulator may be defective. Problems with pressure may also be traced to a malfunctioning regulator or plugged fuel line. For the volume, you have to use a specialized gauge to determine the fuel flow.
- Last week, I had a problem with a sputtering engine. This happened while my car was running at high speed. I’ve also noticed that it tends to surge forward. Yesterday, I can’t seem to crank up the engine anymore. I suspect that the fuel pump has something to do with this no-start trouble with my engine. What can I do to properly diagnose the problem?
Surging and engine sputters are symptoms of a malfunctioning fuel pump. It has probably reached the point where there’s no more fuel flowing into the engine when you try to start the car. The sparks may ignite, but there’s just not enough fuel to burn. In this case, you have to check if there’s a blown fuse that needs to be changed or if there’s still pressure in the fuel line. Have the fuel pump checked further by a technician. Replace it if necessary.
- What are signs of fuel pump malfunction? What are the common problems encountered on the road when the fuel pump starts deteriorating?
Engine sputters are an early sign of fuel pump trouble. The car may run smoothly and suddenly jerk around only to revert to its smooth drive. This situation may present itself when driving at high speeds. The fuel pump may be struggling to deliver a steady flow of fuel to the engine. The sputter is often caused by lack of pressure. Irregularities you may experience during fuel pump malfunction include loss of power during acceleration. The engine may stutter, make noises, and jerk around, but will go back to running smoothly as the car takes off. The car may also lose power when the vehicle is placed under stress, such as when climbing uphill or carrying some heavy cargo. Surging is also a symptom of a defective pump. This happens due to irregular resistance. The pump could no longer pull in enough electric power to deliver the needed pressure. As it builds up pressure, the vehicle may suddenly surge forward. If the car wouldn’t start anymore even if the ignition is fired up, this could be a severe case of fuel pump malfunction.
- My car has been exhibiting signs of a faulty fuel pump. The engine sputters when accelerating or running at high speeds. I want to rule out other problems before finally having the fuel pump replaced. What kind of tests can I run for proper diagnosis?
To properly diagnose a fuel pump problem and rule out other possible issues and fixes, you may perform an electrical test and a fuel pressure test. In the electrical test, you’ll be looking for a broken or blown fuse, checking the voltage, and using a voltmeter to see if the wire is grounded properly. In the fuel pressure test, you’ll be inspecting the filter for clogs and using a gauge to see if there’s enough pressure going around.
- Is it true that keeping a low level fuel in the tank can damage the fuel pump?
Yes, keeping a low level of fuel or insufficient supply in the tank can in fact lead to fuel pump damage in the long run. Fuel that goes through the pump actually cools it and lubricates its internal components. With enough fuel in the tank, there’s enough weight to help maintain the needed pressure. If the tank usually runs low on fuel, then the pump won’t be properly lubricated and cooled as needed, leading to its defect.
- Aside from low levels of fuel in the tank, what are the other known causes of fuel pump malfunction? I usually keep more than enough gas in my tank, but my fuel pump still failed and had to be replaced.
A faulty fuel pump may be due to water in the fuel or moisture. If fuel sits for too long because the vehicle isn’t driven for quite a while, there could be moisture. After some time, this moisture will eventually break away from the fuel and may be the cause of corrosion of the pump’s metal parts. Another common cause of fuel pump malfunction is contaminated or low-quality fuel. Contaminants in the fuel may get through the fuel pump through the tank. Smaller particles may flow through and damage the pump. The debris may then accelerate wear on some motor parts such as the commutator and brushes and may cling to the valve. The motor may have to draw more amps in order to generate the needed pressure, which can lead to burnt connectors in a worn-out fuel pump.
- How long do fuel pumps usually last?
Some place the usual lifespan of a fuel pump at 10 years or no less than 100,000 miles. Others say that it can last as long as the life of the vehicle. Some factors, however, affect the condition of the pump such as the wear and tear on the vehicle, corrosion caused by moisture or water in the fuel, and contaminated or poor-quality fuel that lets debris and dirt get through the pump.
DIY Steps for Replacing a Pontiac Fuel Pump
The fuel pump may eventually fail to supply the needed pressure and maintain sufficient fuel flow. It may have corroded parts, may suffer from internal wear due to lack of lubrication from the fuel, or may have a leak somewhere. These will require replacement. Fuel pumps come in varied settings and designs. The pressure ratings and configuration may vary not just per make but also per vehicle model and engine size. This means that replacement or installation could differ for various models. And so, you have to acquaint yourself with the fuel pump design of your Pontiac. The vehicle manual can be used as reference for the type of Pontiac fuel pump that you'll need. The success of the replacement or installation would largely depend on having the right fuel pump kit for the job. Check out the list of tools that you'll need for replacing the busted fuel pump and follow the detailed instructions below:
Note: This installation guide is written specifically for the Pontiac Bonneville and other models with similar electric fuel pump configuration.
Required skill level: Intermediate
Needed tools and materials
- Fuel pump kit
- Socket wrench
- Gas can
Read your vehicle manual. This will give you an idea about important fuel pump specs, settings, and features. By familiarizing yourself with the fuel system and the fuel pump placement and configuration, you can handle the job better. You'll know where several parts are located and how the electric fuel pump is basically secured or locked in place. You also have to make sure that the fuel pump kit has all the needed hardware.
Preparing the vehicle for fuel pump servicing
Relieve pressure from the fuel system. After relieving the pressure, you can now start draining the fuel tank, using a gas can to capture the fluid. You have to disconnect the negative battery cable using a socket wrench.
Removing the old fuel pump
Get access to the fuel sender access panel. You have to peel off the lining on the trunk of your vehicle. By removing the lining, you'll be able to locate the panel and open it. Basically, you have to remove whatever's in the way of the panel to get access to other fittings, connections, and components.
Next thing you have to do is to locate the fuel sender. Look for the quick connect fittings and the electrical connector from the fuel sender. You have to remove these. There'll also be a retaining ring there. You have to unfasten and discard the ring in order to pull out the fuel sender. So you can take things back to proper placements, you have to note first how the fuel sender is locked in. You also have to remember the exact placement of the strainer before this is removed. Unplug any electrical connection and hose from the pump. Once they're out of the way, you can now pull out the old unit.
Installing a new fuel pump
Install the new fuel pump. You basically just have to reverse the steps. You may use the old grommets and insulators. However, the O-ring and the strainer must be replaced. The kit may provide you with these. Make sure that all parts are placed back and secured properly. Also refill the gas tank. Test-drive the vehicle to see if the new pump is working right.