4 Things You Can Do To Make Your Fuel Pump Last
The best way to keep from having to replace your fuel pump - a pretty big expense - is to maintain it. Most fuel pumps are made to last a vehicle's lifetime. If you do the essentials:
- Keep the fuel levels up
- Use only quality fuel
- Change the fuel filter at recommended intervals
- Don't let your fuel "sit"
...your fuel pump will probably last a long time.
Keep Fuel Levels Up
The fuel pump in a fuel injected vehicle (nearly all vehicles made after 1990 are fuel injected) is located inside the fuel tank. There are several reasons for this, including that fuel pumps are both lubricated and cooled by that fuel.
Most fuel pumps are immersed in fuel when there tank is a quarter full. When the pump is immersed, it stays cool and lubrication is never a concern. For this reason, most mechanics and owner’s manuals recommend that vehicle owners keep their fuel tanks filled above the quarter tank mark.
Another good reason to keep your fuel tank at least a quarter full: Any sediment that might be in the fuel you buy can settle to the bottom of the fuel tank. If fuel levels drop below a quarter of a tank, that sediment can get stirred up and end up in your engine. This can cause damage throughout the fuel system as well as inside the engine.
Use Quality Fuel
Another problem that can lead to fuel pump failure is water or excessive debris in the fuel. These can cause wear and tear or corrosion on the fuel pump, leading to early failure. To avoid this problem, using a quality fuel from reputable filling stations is recommended.
It's a good idea to buy fuel from the same filling station every time you fill up your tank. The reasons are two fold:
- If you to go the same station every time, you'll get a better idea about fuel quality. If you're having fuel system problems (like a clogged filter), that's an indication that your favorite filling station is a bad option.
- Getting into a habit of buying fuel from the same place every time helps avoid the temptation of buying cheap fuel from an off-brand filling station.
Keep in mind that saving one or two pennies per gallon of fuel only saves you 25 cents (or so) per fill-up. At the end of an entire year, that savings works out to a pretty small amount of money - maybe enough to buy a pizza. It's a lot of work to find the cheapest gas, for very little reward.
On the other hand, if you buy even one contaminated tank of fuel, you could spend hundreds of dollars on repairs. The discount gas stations don't usually have the newest underground tanks, increasing the risk of buying contaminated fuel.
Change Your Fuel Filter Like Clockwork
Changing out your car’s fuel filter is another recommended step for preserving your fuel pump’s life. Most vehicles have a fuel filter change interval in their owner’s manual. In general, this is usually between 25,000 and 50,000 miles, but may vary according to manufacturer recommendations.
Fuel filters are important because they protect your engine from fuel contaminants. Fuel filter changes are important because your fuel pump has to work against your filter. If the filter is doing it's job and filling up with sediment, your fuel pump has to work a little harder. When you change the filter on a regular basis, you save the fuel pump a lot of wear and tear.
Don't Let Fuel Sit
Another way to keep your fuel pump running in top condition: Never let fuel sit in the fuel tank for more than three months at a time. This is especially true of fuel with an ethanol mix in it (now very common - any fuel with an “E” in its name).
Most vehicle owners don't have problems with fuel "sitting", because they drive daily. However, for vehicles that are driven infrequently (like a show car, an RV, an elderly person's car), it's important to keep fuel "fresh." Driving a lightly used vehicle every week or two is a very good idea. Twenty minutes of drive time is what you want, not only for the sake of your fuel pump, but also for your cooling system, exhaust, battery, etc.
No fuel pump will last forever. However, a good quality fuel pump that's cared for should last as long as you own your vehicle. If you find yourself buying new fuel pumps on a frequent basis, you might consider changing the way you buy fuel.