Ok so all weekend car ran fine. Sunday started right up to move it down the block and was fine. Yesterday morning car wouldn’t start-thought it was the battery (its not I had it checked). Last night a friend of mine came to look at it. He thought it was the fuel pump, bought some ether put it in and car started. Car continued to run did not shut back off. He took it around the block a few times and went to fill up the take (I had a 1/2 tank already but he wanted to run it) came back and car still running. As it was idling the throdle was jumping around. He said could be spark plugs and wants to change them this weekend. I am afraid to drive the car with the throdle jumping because I don’t want it to let me sit. Got up this morning and the car started right up no problem. I did not drive it to work today because I am nervous to. He said it could have just been dirt in the fuel pump because if it was the fuel pump it should have shut right off. Does anyone know what is going on with my car?
I think that we can rule out spark plugs. It does sound like a fuel delivery or contaminated fuel problem. The first action with a fuel delivery problem is typically to replace the fuel filter. That may do no good at all, but that is something that should be done as normal maintenance every few years, so it sure does not hurt.
You will likely need to take it to someone who has the tools to check the fuel pressure and delivery rate.
Ok so replace fuel filter. How do you check the furl pressure and delivery rate? Is it done with the same tool they use when your check engine light comes on? Where do you take it for that test (any garage)? Sorry but as you can see I know NOTHING about cars so I don’t want to get screwed over at a shop and I just moved to this city so I don’t know any garages
Also being that it runs now- do you think it’s safe to run until I get it to a garage? With Christmas in less than a week not sure how soon they can get it in
Fuel pressure and flow are checked with an analog pressure gauge and (typically) discharging fuel to a bucket to see if it can maintain adequate flow for several seconds.
As for reliable, I dare not guess. Typically, when a fuel pump (or fuel pump relay) fails, the car will fail to start. Sometimes it will start working again for a little while, and sometimes it is just done at the first failure. It is less common for it to fail out on the highway in traffic, but that is not to say it could not happen.
If you can do some googling and find out where the fuel pump is on your car, have someone turn the key to the on position, can you hear the fuel pump hum for a second or two? If you can normally hear it, but you don’t hear it when the car fails to start, that will narrow down the problem to 1) Is power getting to the fuel pump? (check with a volt meter). If you are getting 12 volts to the pump for the first second or two after the key is turned on, but you don’t hear it hum, then the pump is definitely failing. It is also possible, however, for a pump to hum but fail to put out adequate pressure or volume.
We can’t see your car and your description of the problem doesn’t rule out a whole host of things it could be. You can either , with the help of your friend, try a lot of things or take it to a shop that will want to replace some maintenance items like plugs if you can’t tell them when they were replaced. I would let your friend replace the plugs and fuel filter if it is accessible and if that doesn’t help. take it to a shop. You can try the mechanics files on this site to find one.
Post the model year you might get some more ideas. And post any pending or active diagnostic codes. Besides the ideas above, other things that can cause this symptom on a modern electronic fuel injected engine
- idle air control device
- vacuum leak
- crank position sensor
- throttle position sensor
- egr valve
- spark plug wires
- distributor (if so equipped)
It’s pretty clear you can quickly run out of money before running out of ideas if you approach this with the replace this, replace that method. Suggest to replace anything you know needs replacing anyway and if that doesn’t do the job take it to a shop for a proper diagnosis. You can fix the problem yourself then if you like.
Sorry. A fuel pump can be very intermittent, working one minute and not starting the next. I have had a non starter towed out of the ramp and when the guy got it to the shop it started right up again. So the first question is you said it didn’t start and you thought it was the battery and had it checked. Did the starter motor turn the engine over or was it dead? If it wasn’t dead, why did you think it was the battery? How did you get the battery checked if it was still in the car and the car not working? If you took the battery out, that may be why it is now fluctuating while the computer re-learns the throttle settings. If the starter motor worked, you should have listened to see if you heard the fuel pump run for a few seconds in the tank. If not, that would indicate a fuel pump problem which was overcome by the either. You may be just chasing your tail and the problem is a bum fuel pump.