So before we delve into the detailed information about fuel pumps let’s see if we can’t get down to basics: fuel pumps pump fuel! Were you taking notes?

Now for a little bit more detailed description of the under-appreciated fuel pump.

In the old days, like before ten years ago, most vehicles had a mechanical fuel pump which attached to the engine and used suction to suck (that’s right, suck!) fuel up from the gas tank and into the carburetor. One of the most common problems with this system is that the fuel pumps tended to occasionally suck air through a faulty hose connection and that led to some coughing from the vehicle as too much air entered the carburetor. Remember, there has to be just the right mixture of air and fuel for a car to purr, and that mixture was occasionally and all-too often fowled-up by the mechanical fuel pumps.

Enter the fuel-injection systems of today with the electric fuel pumps which are located in the gas tank and actually pump fuel to the engine rather than suck fuel towards the engine. Much more efficient way and did away with the problems of too much air being sucked into the mixture.

Because all new cars and trucks now have an ECU (electronic control unit) it is fairly easy to know when the fuel pump is not working properly. The ECU has sensors that detect when the air/fuel mixture is wrong and immediately you will see a “check engine” light come on telling you there is a problem. In truth, though, you will know there is a problem because your vehicle will run rough and idle rough.

The ECU is a rather remarkable feature in its own right, responsible for reading sensors for a number of car parts including the ignition, gear controls which also monitors the transmission, the revolution limit and the brakes. So you see, the little micro chip has all of your concerns covered as you drive to the grocery store.

That brings us to the part of the article where we tell you that if you are a handy person and do your own repairs there is no better place to buy replacement parts than at a modern salvage yard. Used car parts are reliable, inventory controlled, and much, much less expensive. Check out your local junk yard the next time you are in need of used parts.