Automobile

How to Choose an Electric Fuel Pump

If you want to get the kind of performance that makes your vehicle turn heads, you will need to look at your fuel pump! However, choosing an electric fuel pump isn’t as easy as it seems.

This guide breaks down everything you need to know to get the best fuel pump. Keep reading to learn how to get the most out of your fuel pump.

Types of Fuel Pumps

To know what type of electric fuel pump you need, you first need to know the operating pressure of your setup. Once you have determined that, here are some of the standard fuel pump options you will see:

Diaphragm Pumps

These types of fuel pumps use a composite membrane that flexes up and down over a fuel bowl. The input and output of the bowl each have a check valve, so fuel only flows in one direction.

The movement of the membrane creates a vacuum, pulling fuel into the bowl, then creating pressure to push it out.

Vane Pumps

Inside of vane pumps is an offset paddle-wheel device. This device spins inside a circular housing, drawing fuel into the pump, then pushing it out the outlet.

G-Rotor Pumps

These types of fuel pumps contain an inner and an outer rotor, the inner rotor with fewer teeth than the outer. The rotor creates a vacuum as it rotates in the housing.

Screw Pumps

Screw pumps use two counter-rotating screw rotors, rotating towards each other. This movement compresses the gas and pushes it out of the outlet.

Choosing a Fuel Pump

Many factors dictate which fuel pump options will be best to choose for your vehicle. Knowing your vehicle’s specs will help more than anything when choosing a fuel pump.

Maximum Horsepower

The amount of horsepower your engine generates and how much fuel it requires to do so needs to be your first consideration when choosing a fuel pump.

A small pump will starve your engine, and an oversized fuel pump will cost you fuel and cause potential problems like engine surging. Both will cause your vehicle to underperform.

To determine your vehicle’s maximum horsepower, you will need to either dyno test or follow your manufacturer’s advertised horsepower rating. It is best to stay on the high side when choosing the best fuel pump for your vehicle.

Brake-Specific Fuel Consumption

Brake-specific fuel consumption is the amount of fuel consumed per unit of power produced. It will usually be in these ranges of pounds per horsepower per hour:

  • Naturally aspirated gas:4-0.5
  • Nitrous engine:5-0.6
  • Supercharged or turbocharged:6-0.7

Fuel Type

Ethanol engines burn about 30% more fuel than gas engines. Methanol engines can use as much as 100% to 200% more.

Ensure the fuel pump benefits the type of engine you choose it for!

System-Pressure Requirements

The pump volume is inversely related to the pressure of the fuel system. What this means is that as pressure rises, the volume decreases.

Therefore, if you know the maximum pressure of the fuel system in your vehicle, you can choose an electric pump that has a flow matching the pressure requirements.

Electric fuel pumps operating in lower-pressure applications typically regulate pressure themselves. However, higher-pressure systems will normally need an external pressure regulator.

Filtration

Another critical component of choosing the best fuel pump is filtration. The industry standard is a 100-micron high-flow pre-filter.

EFI setups can use a 10-micron filter for post-filters, and carbureted applications can use 40-micron filters.

Voltage

Determine the voltage of the pump required for the total engine load of your vehicle. You will also need to know the fuel pump’s flow at that voltage.

Brand

The brand of the electric fuel pump will be just as important as the specs. Getting a pump from a trusted brand ensures that you get a good quality pump. These pumps will usually also come with a warranty.

Maintaining Your Fuel Pump

Buying and installing an electric fuel pump is just the first step. Next, you want to keep that pump in top condition!

Service the Fuel Filter

Gas is not clean, especially after being transported thousands of miles. However, the manufacturers of fuel pumps combat this with filters.

However, these filters clog up over time. So be sure to service your vehicle and replace the filter periodically to keep the gas flowing smoothly. Otherwise, you may overwork your fuel pump.

Keep Your Gas Tank Full

In most modern vehicles, the fuel pump will be in the tank. Therefore, keeping your tank full will keep the pump submerged and prevent overheating.

Additionally, suppose any debris has found its way into your gas tank. In that case, lower fuel levels will increase the chances of the pump sucking in that debris.

Mechanical vs. Electric Fuel Pumps

Older vehicles commonly have mechanical fuel pumps. These fuel pumps deliver fuel into a carburetor before the fuel moves on to the engine. Unfortunately, this two-stage process makes them less efficient than electric fuel pumps.

On the other hand, electric fuel pumps directly deliver fuel through a fuel injection system into the engine. Additionally, electric fuel pumps produce higher pressures, allowing for smoother performance.

Another difference is their location. Electric fuel pumps, as mentioned earlier, are typically located in or near the gas tank. On the other hand, you can find mechanical pumps closer to the vehicle’s engine.

Diagnosing a Faulty Pump

An irregular fuel supply is the most common indication of a faulty pump. This issue usually manifests as loss of power, jerking while in motion, or simply not starting.

Choosing an Electric Fuel Pump

You should now be well prepared to get the electric fuel pump you need to get the most out of your vehicle. Check out our automotive section to learn even more about getting the best performance out of your vehicle.

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