If your car is stuttering, misfiring, or even flooding the engine, it might be a fuel pump issue.
Modern cars mostly house the fuel pump inside the gas tank, which is the safest place to put them.
However, it also means replacing the fuel pump can be time-consuming and costly. In addition, you’ll likely have to replace other parts like the fuel pump relay, which are more likely to break than the pump itself.
The average cost of replacing a fuel pump is $800. This includes roughly $75-$570 for the fuel pump. The other $300-$1,000 you can expect to pay is for labor. That’s important because your mechanic has to take out the fuel tank to access the pump.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of fuel pump replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
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How Much Does Fuel Pump Replacement Cost?*
If you’re replacing a fuel pump, the largest part of the cost is often labor. However, for some vehicles, that can change.
For example, if you have a luxury vehicle, the cost of labor and the part might be about the same. Therefore, depending on your vehicle and location, you can expect to pay anywhere from $250-$2,000+.
For example, the following include estimates for 10 popular vehicles.
|Vehicle||Fuel Pump Cost||Labor Cost|
|Dodge RAM 1500||$229-$698||$154-$222|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Fuel Pump Replacement Price Factors
The two most influential parts of replacing a fuel pump are the part and the labor. Here, the make and model and your mechanic’s rate are the two most influential costs.
We’ll look at some of the most important price factors below.
Make and Model
The make and model of your vehicle is the single most influential part of the cost replacing a fuel pump.
For example, some vehicles make it very easy to take the gas tank out and replace the fuel pump. Others can take several hours of work to get it out. In addition, a select number of vehicles have a secondary fuel pump outside the vehicle.
The age of your vehicle also matters. However, if your car is older than about 15 years old or has a carburetor, you have a mechanical fuel pump, which is normally much cheaper to replace, because it’s not located in the fuel tank.
In addition, the make and model affect the cost of the parts. Ford parts are almost always more expensive than Toyota parts. BMW parts, on the other hand, are almost always more expensive than Ford parts. Your vehicle’s manufacturer will heavily impact the cost of the parts.
In addition, the availability of the model in the USA affects the availability of parts and therefore the cost of those parts. So, if you drive a very common vehicle, it’s highly likely that you can easily find parts for cheap.
In addition, it’s highly likely your mechanic will have done the work before, so you might get a cheaper rate.
Mechanic’s rates also greatly affect the cost of replacing your fuel pump. On a national average, you’re normally going to pay around $60 per hour.
Big brands like Pep Boys and Midas normally charge $99 to $200. And, in many parts of the U.S., rates are well over $210. On the other hand, you might be able to source a mechanic for as little as $15 an hour in some places.
That’s important, because replacing a fuel pump normally takes anywhere from 2 to 6 hours depending on the make and model of your vehicle. This normally means you’ll pay least $150 in labor at most shops.
Therefore, depending on your part, the labor can cost more than the pump itself.
Brand and Condition
Many fuel pumps are available as aftermarket or made-to-fit models. These normally cost significantly less than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts.
Similarly remanufactured parts cost much less than new parts. Here, remanufactured means that an old or bad part has been torn down and repaired to meet or exceed the original manufacturer’s specifications.
Often, this involves repairing specific parts of the machinery, such as internal seals or replacing the motor – which you can’t do on your own. The result is a vastly cheaper fuel pump, but one which has been used before. This sometimes means the lifespan is less long.
For example, in the chart above, the higher estimate is a new and OEM part from the dealer. In this case, the lower-end estimate is usually an aftermarket pump or even a remanufactured pump.
In some cases, you might not want to go for remanufactured or aftermarket. For example, if your vehicle is very new. In most cases, it’s simply a matter of personal choice.
You might lose some quality or other specifications with some budget parts. However, for the most part, aftermarket parts are made to meet or exceed the OEM specifications.
5 Symptoms of A Bad Fuel Pump
If your fuel pump is going out, you’ll usually notice. Your car will sputter, hiccup, flood, misfire, or even suddenly stall.
You might notice heavy smoke coming from the exhaust. Or, if you have a turbocharged vehicle, you’ll notice this underperforms.
All of these problems relate to reduced fuel pressure or increased fuel pressure.
And, of course, if the fuel pressure light comes on, you should have it checked. This can relate to the fuel lines or other issues.
However, it’s always a sign that something is wrong. In some cases, even just a check engine light will indicate your fuel pump is bad.
1. Smoking Exhaust
While relatively uncommon, a bad fuel pump can over pressurize your fuel system. This causes the engine to get too much fuel.
Eventually, this translates to fuel injectors. Your engine will burn off the excess fuel, causing it to smoke. This normally results in thick black or white smoke coming from the exhaust.
While you can have a smoking exhaust for other reasons, a fuel pump is a likely cause. In either case, if your exhaust is smoking, you should get it checked quickly. Not only does it mean you’re wasting fuel, you could get a ticket for it.
2. Engine Stalling
If your engine stalls suddenly, it’s usually a fuel issue. In some cases, it means your engine isn’t getting enough fuel.
In other cases, it means you’re getting too much fuel. This is especially true if your engine stalls again after starting up or if it fails to start at all.
Of course, these issues can also relate to the solenoids or even the engine block itself. However, the fuel system is a very likely problem.
If your engine misfires, it means there’s not enough fuel entering the engine. Your engine will skip or gap also known as misfiring.
The worse this gets, the more your vehicle will have loud, stuttering gaps when it runs. E.g., if your vehicle sounds like a tractor, you have a fuel pressure issue.
That is very likely to be a pump issue. However, it could also be the lines, the injectors, or even the solenoid.
If your engine is hiccupping when you start it, this might be because of the fuel pump.
While it could be any other part of the fuel system, you always want to have it checked.
If your pump is sending too much fuel into the engine, it can result in fuel entering the exhaust pipe, causing small explosions as the fumes catch fire.
Engine backfiring is always a sign that something is going wrong, and you should always have it checked.
It’s not always a result of the fuel pump. However, it is always a serious issue.
How To Replace a Fuel Pump (20 Steps)
The steps to replace a fuel pump will vary slightly from vehicle to vehicle.
However, this process is a rough outline of what you’ll have to do. It should get through the process, as long as you’re roughly able to adjust to slight differences.
Importantly, you’ll have to take the fuel tank out. This can take some time and might require some familiarity with the vehicle.
In addition, it’s important that you get the parts on right. Failing to properly create a seal with the gasket or the lines could cause significant problems when you start to drive.
Things You’ll Need:
- Floor jack and jack stands
- Wrench set + Ratchet and Socket Set. If you have an American vehicle, use standard wrenches. If you have any other vehicle, make sure your set is in metric.
- Disposable gloves
- Cannister to hold the gas
- Replacement fuel pump
- Fuel cleaner
- Shop rags
- If your new pump doesn’t come with new gaskets, you’ll want to purchase those as well.
- Park your vehicle on a clean and flat surface. Turn off the engine and remove the key. Then, unplug the battery from the negative post.
- Siphon the gas out of the gas tank. Find the filler neck mounting bolts and take them off if you’re having problems siphoning the gas.
- Then, block the front wheels and jack up the car from the back. Some people prefer to jack up both sides of the car for ease of access. Make sure you use jack stands to stabilize the vehicle.
- Some vehicles have a service port for the fuel pump. This is normally on the floor, just behind the back seats. If that’s the case, access the fuel pump from there.
- Unplug the wiring harness for the fuel pump. It’s usually located above the fuel tank. In some vehicles, you’ll have to move the fuel tank first.
- Disconnect the fuel line. You might need a disconnect tool. These are sold in sets for about $15-$20 at most hardware stores. Have a basin ready to catch the fuel.
- Remove the fuel vapor lines.
- Double check that you’ve removed all lines and wires.
- Support the fuel tank with a jack or block it up.
- Find and undo the mounting bolts on the supports. In most cases, there is one support on each side.
- Unbolt the center strap and bend it out of the way.
- Pull the tank out. In some vehicles, this is jammed into place and may require maneuvering to get out.
- Clean the top of the tank using your cleaning fluid.
- Remove the bolts from the pump mount.
- Then, remove the retainer ring. You might need a hammer and punch to get it to turn. Retainer rings always come out clockwise.
- Finally, take out the fuel pump. You’ll normally have to remove the plastic retainer clips first.
- Clean the surface area of the tank where you want to mount the new pump. You’ll also want to inspect the fuel tank to make sure it’s not full of debris. Some contaminant is normal.
- Install the new gasket.
- Then, replace the fuel pump. Follow manufacturer instructions for your pump.
- Finally, put everything back, in the order you took it out.
Now might also be a good time to replace the fuel level indicator, the fuel pump relay, or the wiring harness.
Each of these parts can go bad and are more likely to do so than the fuel pump itself. And, it might be a good idea to do it while you have everything disassembled anyway.
Replacing your fuel pump is not a simple process. Chances are, you still have questions. Hopefully, these answers help.
Can I drive with a bad fuel pump?
Theoretically, yes. However, there’s always the risk that the fuel pump fails completely and your car stalls.
In this case, you might be stranded. You’ll also have to pay an additional fee to have your vehicle towed if this is the case.
Eventually, it’s a bad idea to drive your car with a bad fuel pump.
What happens if you don’t replace your fuel pump?
Eventually, your fuel pump will fail. In the meantime, energy performance, gas economy, and road safety will drop.
When your pump fails, your vehicle won’t start. It may also stall in the middle of driving.
How many years does a fuel pump last?
Most fuel pumps are designed to last the lifetime of a vehicle. However, most will last at least 100,000 miles.
After the first 100,000 miles, fuel pump failure becomes relatively likely. However, like any other part, actual lifespan depends on maintenance.
If you use good fuel, occasionally maintain your system, and drive well, you’ll likely get at least 100,000 miles out of the pump.
Can a fuel pump fail suddenly?
Yes. However, this failure may not be a result of the fuel pump. Instead, the wire harness might burn out. Or, the fuel pump relay may burn out.
If the motor in the fuel pump burns out, it can also be sudden. Not all problems happen gradually.
Replacing a fuel pump can be labor-intensive. All modern vehicles feature a fuel pump inside the fuel tank. In some cases, there’s an access port inside the vehicle.
If you’re doing the work yourself, you’ll always want to check for that. If not, you’ll have to take out the gas tank to access it.
If you have a mechanic do the work, you can expect to pay $75-$600 for the part. Then, you’ll pay another $150-$600 for the repair itself.
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