How Long Can You Drive with a Bad Fuel Pump

A fuel pump has a major objective, which is to “pump fuel” to the parts of the engine that need fuel to function. It can become uneasy for a car to move or start when the fuel pump is damaged. But, the question is, “How long can you drive with a bad fuel pump?”

You cannot drive long with a bad fuel pump, but you can manage to drive between the ranges of 15 to 30 minutes depending on how severe the damage is. A bad fuel pump can turn off your car’s engine at any time, risking movement that will cause severe damage to the engine.

What Is A Fuel Pump?

A fuel pump is a vital part of a car’s engine that allows the movement of fuel from the fuel/gas tank through the carburetor of the internal combustion engine.

The fuel pump ensures there is the adequacy of fuel supply to the fuel injectors and other necessary parts of the engine. A break in its effectiveness will cause the life span of the engine to be cut short.

Can You Drive A Car That Has A Bad Fuel Pump?

Yes, you can drive with a car that has a bad fuel pump but it is not advisable to do so to avoid damaging your engine and other parts of the car.

I’ve had my fuel pump go out on me on a highway/expressway where there are no houses or auto shops around. The luck I had that day was that I was already 20 miles away from where I could find an auto shop.

I had to manage the car for that 20 miles. However, during that 20 miles, the car could not accelerate. It was just rolling. Being a Lexus IS350 V6 engine with 311 horsepower, I was able to manage it to get to the auto shop.

How Long Can You Drive with a Bad Fuel Pump?

At most, you have 15min or 30mins to drive a car with a bad fuel pump depending on the severity of the damage. But, it is advisable that you don’t drive a car with a bad fuel pump.

When you notice symptoms of a failing fuel pump, you should take the car to a mechanic before it worsens. A bad fuel pump causes overheating to the engine which has the tendency to shut down the engine completely.

Moreover, you cannot drive a car with a bad fuel pump if the fuel pump has gone completely bad, the car will not even start not to talk of driving it.

What Should You Do If A Fuel Pump Goes Bad?

If you notice you have a bad fuel pump, there is no need to panic. You should reach out to your mechanic or have them come to check it for you. If they cannot come to where the car is, you can tow it to them. Since a fuel pump can be damaged suddenly, you are urged to replace the bad one with immediate effect.

Can A Fuel Pump Just Go Out Without Warning?

Depending on the kind of car you drive, the fuel pump can fail suddenly without giving you prior warning, however, in some cars, you may be warned before it goes out completely.

For example, before my Lexus IS350 fuel pump went out on me on the highway, I had a P0170 code that caused a warning light on the dashboard.

After the car was scanned, we thought it was an air filter that caused the warning light. Little did we know it was the fuel pump that was about to go out.

We cleaned the K&N air filter and replaced the Mass air Flow sensor with a brand-new one. We cleared the code and the car seemed fine until I hit the road the next day.

After driving for 20 miles, the check engine warning light and VSC light came back on again and at about 160 miles drive, the pump went out. Since I replaced the pump with a new one and a new fuel filter, the P0170 code has never come back.

If all conditions are adequate, according to the manufacturers, there won’t be a need to have your fuel pump changed until you have at least done between 100,000 to 200,000 miles.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Bad Fuel Pump?

The price to replace a bad duel pump depends on different factors; location, who is doing the replacement, car model, and other factors. Approximately, the price can be between $220 and $1,062 which could be lesser or higher.

Your car model, the person in charge of the repair, and where the replacement will take place are vital factor that determines the best price for that moment. There is no specific price, so you should expect more or less.

How Do You Fix A Fuel Pump Without Replacing It?

Here are a few things you want to consider if replacing the fuel pump is not in your budget:

1. Use A Fuel Pressure Gauge

In case you are concerned if this will work, sure it will. Mechanics adopt the process when dealing with a bad fuel pump.

It is a simple process of attaching the fuel pressure gauge to your car engine. This will allow you to start your car even if the fuel pump is damaged.

2. Apply Some External Pressure

A bad fuel pump reduces the pressure in your car engine. A simple counterattack is to add some external pressure.

When you apply some external pressure to your engine, it will keep the engine in a balanced start of performance.

3. Maintain The Engine’s Heat

There is a resetting that happens when your vehicle is allowed to cool after overheating. Even though this works to save the day, yet, it causes more damage to the engine.

The most lucrative way to this approach is to keep your car active even with a bad fuel pump so as to maintain a great amount of heat, great enough to keep the engine active. This will reduce the constant malfunction the car undergoes.

I know this seems quite an easy route to your problems. But, a fuel pump develops greater problems when “ignored”.

A replacement is better than boycotting a means to keep things steady even when it doesn’t change the fact that the fuel pump is still damaged.

How Do You Know Your Fuel Pump Is Going Out?

Symptoms of a failing or bad fuel pump:

  • The Car Won’t Start: When fuel isn’t properly circulated, there will be problems when trying to start the car. If at all your car cranks when you insert a key, yet still doesn’t turn on. You can also see it as the fuel pump giving warning signals. If at all it starts but needs more than the usual cranks to turn over, you could also trace this to a failing fuel pump.
  • Overheating: One of the things you can easily trace to a bad or failing fuel pump is the tremendous heat the car produces, and the sudden increase in pressure. This can also be a symptom you might notice.
  • A Lower Gas Mileage: A lower gas mileage can also be a symptom. Poor fuel efficiency is bound to happen because of a damaged fuel pump. The fuel pump also functions in the management of fuel distribution. If it is damaged, it can channel excessive fuel which then becomes a waste.
  • Engine Surging: A bad fuel pump has the tendency to send out too little or too much fuel to the engine. If this happens, you’ll experience an engine surge – the engine speeds go up and down even without having your leg on the accelerator or the brake.

These are clear signals that your car might have a bad or damaged fuel pump.


It is important you monitor your fuel pump by keeping tabs on the signs your car reveals with time. A fuel pump ensures fuel is taken to where it is needed. When it is damaged, it will cause the engine more harm than good. You should see a mechanic about what to do.