After New Fuel Pump Install - Car Dies in DRIVE After 20sec

Hello everyone! Thank you in advance for your time and any help. First time posting.

I have a 2000 Ford Focus SE, L4 2.0L SOHC 8V SPI.

I recently had a “turn/no-start” scenario with my engine. I checked the battery, the fuses, and the fuel pump relay and all were just fine. I narrowed it down to likely the fuel pump. I have a friend who is a mechanic (10yrs) who offered to do the job for not much at all.

During the repair: He replaced Fuel Pump Module & Fuel Filter. He discovered that the Fuel Pump Module he purchased didn’t fit in my tank, (link: even though he double checked it’s the right part for my VIN. The problem was the plastic retainer mounted on the bottom of the tank didn’t let this new pump sit in fully. He chose to manipulate the plastic retainer to allow the new fuel pump to be fully inserted and the tank to be closed up without any leaking. (I don’t know exactly how he manipulated the plastic retainer.)

We started the car up and it worked great, sounded great. We test drove for about 7 blocks and no problems. I thanked him and left the shop, and it died on me 1 block away. From then on, it has kept dying after about 20 seconds of being in DRIVE.

Details of what happens when it dies:

  • NO check engine lights & no error codes in diagnostics
  • No “problem” noises from engine
  • Car feels like what happens when you run out of gas, sputters in and out of momentum, then dies/coasts
  • Car will immediately restart, but after so many dies/restarts it will have to sit 10-15min before starting
  • Only happens when in DRIVE and moving after about 10-15 seconds
  • Does NOT happen while holding brake-pushing on gas-letting go gas in DRIVE, tried hard to re-create
  • In 1st or 2nd gear, it works fine cold to about 1 mile and then it felt like it was about to die, but never died
  • Have not had it happen in REVERSE, NEUTRAL, PARK
  • Had car towed after pump install, car would not start at all after tow, driver banged on my fuel tank - car started right up.

My gut tells me it’s either a faulty fuel pump, bad installation, or something related to the fuel not reaching the engine reliably. I saw another thread where the person said it was their Fuel Filter, but mine is brand new.

  1. I wonder if the plastic retainer could be in the way of the fuel pump taking in fuel?

  2. Could this be something like the Engine Computer, with no error codes?

Any thoughts and help would be SO greatly appreciated. At this moment, if I can’t figure out what’s wrong, I have to scrap the car, sadly… I’ve kept it in immaculate condition. Thank so much, once again!

I’m guessing you are spot on. Most likely a faulty fuel pump. Take it back to the shop and ask their opinion. Hard to say if not having the exact pump model is the problem, with aftermarket parts it is pretty common to have to modify this or that to make it fit correctly. Aftermarket parts are often designed to fit a whole host of vehicles, so minor modifications are pretty common to make them work w/a specific vehicle If you want to increase your odds, by an oem fuel pump from a Ford dealership.

Thank you for the insight and thoughts @George_San_Jose1. Gives me some confidence in my opinion and things to consider.

Normally first thing you do is go back and re-check your work. Is it possible its something else though like a faulty inertia switch if you have one. When it stalls, is the pump running still? Guess you just have to get a fuel pressure tester on it and a test light to see what happens when it shuts down.

@Sekel00 Did you ask the person who did the work for you about this problem ? If not why?


@bing thanks so much for the thoughts. I can check the inertia switch - but unless it was loose or something, not sure the switch would let me drive in 1st or 2nd gear, but not in Drive. I’ll check though!!

@VOLVO_V70 - Yep! I immediately took the car back to him and he looked at it for about an hour, ran comp diagnostics (no error codes), looked at the throttle and air intake hose. He couldn’t figure it out and was adamant that it definitely couldn’t be the fuel pump and said “Take it to a Ford dealer and pay them $140 to inspect it and find what’s wrong, then I’ll look at the fuel pump if needed.” Doing some leg work and research before choosing to take it to Ford or not.

I’m going with faulty installation.


@PvtPublic yep, that’s what my gut says too.

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Here’s an alternative theory you might want to test before replacing the fuel pump. It’s possible the fuel pump power supply is the problem rather than the fuel pump. The wiring to the fuel pump has to handle a lot of current, and even more if the fuel filter is partially clogged. That can damage connections leading to the fuel pump, or the fuel pump relay contacts. These can test ok when cold, but heat up as the current turns on to the pump and fail. The two most common places this occurs is the connector nearest the fuel pump, and the fuel pump relay. Take some time to inspect that connector for signs of corrosions or burned/partially melted connections. Testing the relay isn’t quite as simple. You’d have to rig up a setup where you run the equivalent fuel pump current through the contacts for 20 seconds then measure the contact resistance. If your mechanic has a known good one, the easier way is just to swap that in for a test.

Do you have the old fuel pump assy?
I think you can buy pump alone vs the entire pump/assy but it is hard to change just the pump. Shops usually replace the assy.
If job was “not much at all”, than perhaps have him replace pump assy with a different brand?

My gut feeling, in order . . .

  1. Questionable initial diagnosis

  2. Questionable parts

  3. Questionable installation

You asked for opinions, and please don’t be upset if you don’t like all of them

@George_San_Jose1 – Good thoughts. I’ll have to inspect. The only thing that I question, is if it were the power supply, I would think it would die in Drive, 1st, or 2nd gear. It only dies in Drive though… hmm… I’ll take a look. Thanks!!

@Cavell Sadly they kept the old one. I’m sure it’s disposed of by now. Thanks for the help!

@db4690 Yep. I agree with you. Looking into a place that would inspect for not too much money. The dealer wants $150 since it’s an older car. Thank you!

Did they actually say that ?

@VOLVO_V70 Yeah, I called the 3 dealers within 10 miles of me and the price was: $140, $150, $165. They gave me the price after asking what was wrong and what year/model my car was.

The prices don’t seem out of line

I suspect the shops plan to hook up their scan tool, check power and ground to the pump, and connect a fuel pressure gauge.

That seems worth an hour or more of labor, and labor being just under $100/hr for many independent shops, the prices mentioned seem fair

They need that info before even saying if they can work on the vehicle, I really don’t think vehicle age has much to do with it. Those are prices in my area at dealers also and I have newer vehicles.

@db4690 Yep. After putting the money in to the fuel pump install, I’m sadly low on cash, so I’m doing some of my own leg work before deciding to spend more money to investigate or scrap the car.

@VOLVO_V70 You’re probably right. Just basing my opinion off the fact that at first they said $100, which is what I’ve paid for the last 6 years at one of these dealers. Then he said, “wait a minute, what year/model.” Either way, I’ve got some things to check into myself first and will decide from there on the dealer or not.

They want to know the make, model and year, so they have an idea how difficult it will be to perform their tests.

Once they know you’ve got a 2000 Focus, they’ll have an idea how easy or difficult it is to check power and ground at the pump. And now they know your engine doesn’t have a fuel pressure test port, which means they’ll have to tee in for any testing. And since it is OBD2, it’s easy to retrieve and fault codes and look at live data.

Yep, makes sense. Thanks for the info. Right now, looking into what I can on my own and pricing options. Gotten some good advice so far on where to start on my own inspection into this issue.

If diagnostic fees are a concern, one idea, you can probably read the most common diagnostic codes w/an inexpensive general purpose OBD II scan tool yourself. Here’s one for $50