Fuel Pump Assembly

When most people think about fuel pumps, they think of gas stations. That is one kind of fuel pump, but not the one people usually reference when talking about cars. Not many people think about it, but a car’s gas tank is actually at the opposite end of that car from the engine. This is mainly done for obvious safety reasons (think action movies). But because of this location, all cars need their own fuel pump in order to function. As is obvious from the name, a car’s fuel pump moves the fuel from the tank to the engine so that the engine can run.

Before the early 90’s, the most common kind of fuel pump assembly was the mechanical pump. The mechanical fuel pump operates by using vacuum to push the fuel into the engine. Because of this, mechanical fuel pumps are located next to the engine, as opposed to today’s pumps. Gasoline engines naturally create a vacuum, which is used for a lot of purposes in cars. This design of fuel pump works with a carburetor to pump air and fuel into the engine. The mechanical fuel pump is located next to the engine, with which it is powered. The pump expels the gas into the carburetor’s fuel bowl, which has a trigger to limit the amount of fuel that actually goes into the engine.

Prior to the mid-90’s, most engines were carburetor engines, that is, they used mechanical fuel pumps. Some engines, mostly in motorcycles, used gravity based fuel injection. This process placed the gasoline literally above the fuel pan, using an hourglass-like structure to limit the amount of gas that could get to the engine. But since that the early to mid-90’s, less and less car manufacturers have been using mechanical fuel pumps, to the point where they are virtually unheard of in today’s modern cars.

Now, the vast majority of car engines are built with electronic fuel injection systems. These carry a number of advantages, especially for car manufacturers, but can actually be detrimental for drivers sometimes. Electronic fuel systems work by spraying a mist of fuel into the engine, as opposed to just pumping the liquid. As the name implies, this pump is powered electronically. The mechanical fuel pumps drew power from the engine’s natural vacuum process, but electronic pumps must actually be connected to a power source – they are actually computer controlled, although it is definitely not a personal computer in the way we commonly think about it.

Electronic fuel injection systems have a lot of advantages for car builders. Most importantly, they are more efficient devices in terms of actually delivering the fuel. Also, because of their location, and the high pressure they are constantly under, it is usually easier to tell a problem or leak that happens with fuel injection systems. Unfortunately, that also makes them less safe for the driver. You’re more likely to notice the problem, which is good, but because of the pressure it’s under, a fuel leak can actually be more hazardous. Also, because they are operated electronically, they are known to be less durable.

If you’re looking to change you fuel pump assembly, the difficulty of that process can change depending on which kind of pump you have. Unfortunately, electronic fuel pump assemblies are actually harder to reinstall. Sometimes, the assembly is located in an easy to find location under the gas tank, but other times, you’ll have to remove other parts of the car. You’ll definitely want to bring a fire extinguisher with you, just to be safe, but as far as the actual process goes, it’s something that can usually be done by an adept person with a good toolset.

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