Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2006   by Auto Service World

Countertalk: Knowledge Building: Five Easy Pieces to Reducing Fuel Pump Warranty Claims

It is no secret that the proliferation of in-tank fuel pumps has meant a proliferation of headaches for more than a few jobbers and their suppliers.

The number of fuel pumps that end up returned for warranty, with labour claims attached, is staggering. More than a few auto parts wholesalers have intimated that they would rather have some customers buy fuel pumps from the competition and let them deal with the returns. That seldom happens, of course, but as many in the aftermarket have learned over the years, education is the best way to stave off unnecessary returns.

The most common cause of problems with in-tank fuel pumps is dirt.

The tolerances required for efficient operation of an in-tank pump are much tighter than those employed in the mechanical pumps of yesteryear, and they simply do not handle particulates in the fuel they are pumping very well.

This is why a failed pump can almost surely be attributed to a job that was tackled too quickly, cutting out the tank cleaning step, or at least was not sufficiently thorough.

It is also true that the entire system should be cleaned, as the removal and installation procedure, as well as a potentially more robust flow of fuel, can loosen dirt that would have otherwise remained trapped within the fuel system.

So if you want to reduce your fuel pump warranty returns, have your customers–both trade and retail–perform five simple steps:

1 – Clean the fuel tank and fuel system thoroughly. If in doubt, replace fuel lines with the proper type. Plastic tanks can be drained and wiped out with a lint-free cloth. Metal tanks are harder to clean due to the accumulation of corrosion that can occur. It may be necessary to have the tank sent out to a radiator shop for proper cleaning.

2 – Alleged fuel pump failures can often be traced to a faulty fuel pressure regulator instead of, or in addition to, the pump itself. It is wise to recommend testing and replacing the fuel pressure regulator before embarking on a more involved diagnosis and replacement of a faulty fuel pump.

3 – Poor electrical connections can masquerade as a fuel pump failure. It is important to do a voltage test on all the connectors and components involved with the fuel pump. A proper voltage test with a digital multi-meter (DMM) or digital volt-ohm meter (DVOM) on both the power side of a circuit and the ground side of a circuit can reveal problems.

4 – Another pitfall to avoid is not installing a new strainer when you install the new pump. A related issue is that a strainer is not a filter. A fuel pump will not be protected from a thoroughly contaminated fuel supply by a strainer, though the strainer will block the largest pieces of debris. The strainer should be installed by hand carefully so as to ensure it is not damaged, which can result in pieces of the strainer damaging the pump.

5 – Check the pump and fuel sender’s operation before installing it in the tank and reinstalling the tank. Ensure that when checking for fuel pump operation that it is not allowed to run dry, by ensuring that there is sufficient gasoline in the tank. Finding out that all is not well after final assembly is an aggravation that is easily avoided.

Ultimately, reducing unnecessary warranty returns not only benefits you; it makes for a happier customer, too. A little attention to important details can accomplish that.

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