It is easy to neglect your car’s fuel pump. And we don’t really blame you. We really don’t see them, and when we do see them, they really aren’t attractive to look at.

Of course, if we factor in its importance, then perhaps you’ll take a second look. Truth is, your car won’t really move without them, so it’s not something you should take for granted. And if we can be bold enough to say it, we’d even suggest you clean it every now and then.

Here are some tips to get started:

Check if your fuel pump’s dirty first

Before you clean it, ask yourself if you really should clean your fuel pump in the first place. Here are some tell-tale signs that indicate you just might have to do it:

  • Your car’s engine sputters and stalls when you take your foot off the gas pedal. Note, however, that if it runs again after a few minutes, then it’s more likely that there are sediment build-ups in the fuel filter or pump.
  • You hear clicks from the pump when the car stops and idles down.
  • If you hear a clicking sound, or a whining noise on your car’s rear (near the gas tank), then it’s likely that your electric motor in the fuel pump is malfunctioning.
  • Your car’s RPM drops. When your car’s RPM suddenly slows down, while you’re driving it at a consistent speed, then it’s a sign that your fuel pump is delivering inadequate fuel to the engine. Other indicators include a warning indicator on your car’s dashboard, a flashing check engine light, and a temporary power loss from your engine.

How to clean your car’s fuel pump

Most mechanical pumps are found in older vehicles, and they can change in appearance and location depending on the car model.

1. Disconnect your car’s battery first

You can find your car’s fuel pump in your car’s trunk or engine bay–usually the black box with two terminal posts sticking out. Disconnect the positive and negative terminal posts by loosening the nut that connects the cable to the negative post.

Put a small, flat container to catch any fuel. The ideal container should be made from metal, in case the fuel is hot.

Take out the fuel lines (if possible). You don’t need to do this, but if you see that you need to unscrew them just to access the internal filter, then loosen the hose clamps on their nozzles.

2. Place a container underneath the vehicle

This is to catch the fuel in case they leak–and it’s possible a couple of spills can happen when you clean your fuel tank.

Whenever possible, try to use a metal container when you do this, since gasoline can be hot and can melt plastic containers.

3. Set aside the fuel lines

Separate the fuel lines when accessing the internal filter is difficult. This can be done by unscrewing the lines or loosening the hose clamps that are securing them on their nozzles. Once they are loosened, just pull the line backwards off of the nozzle.

4. Take out the central screw or nut from the fuel pump housing

You can see it sticking out of the mechanical fuel pump’s top cover holding the fuel filter.

5. Clean (or replace) the filter

The filter looks like a screen, and you can do this without removing it. Just use a small brush to clean the filter. Brush the dust and debris, and if some are hard to get rid of, just use scotch tape or any adhesive and stick it repeatedly on the dirt.

6. Put everything back together

Reassemble the parts you’ve taken out earlier. Put the cover and make sure to secure the bolts firmly in place. Don’t forget to tighten the fuel lines with hose clamps using a screwdriver or wrench.

Cleaning your car’s pump’s fuel filter isn’t that difficult, but if you’re not sure, a good option would be to hire a reliable mechanic to do it for you. That makes things easier and guarantees that your car’s fuel pump filter remains in tip-top shape.

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