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Need Fuel Pump Advice ASAP

Can someone tell me if it sounds like I really need a new fuel pump? Here’s what happened…

1 week ago last Friday, I went to my car (1999 Honda Accord) to start it and it wouldn’t start up. It turns over with a very healthy sound but won’t kick in. When I got home from running my errand via bus, I tried it again and it started up. I continued to use it for the rest f the weekend and it ran fine. It sat all week in the lot, as I use the bus to go to work. Then on Thursday evening I went to use it and had the same problem. I tried it about 45 minutes later and it started. I ran my errand and then dropped the car off with the mechanic. The mechanic says it needs a new fuel pump. It is scheduled to be replaced on Monday, but I’m just looking for a little reassurance, since this is a big buck item.

In my ignorance, I’m wondering if it needs a new fuel pump why does it run very well most of the time? There is no gas smell or any other symptoms.

Thanks for any insight you can give.


How many miles on this car? Does the non-start situation coincide with the interior being hot, as it gets when parked in the sun with the windows closed?

If so the problem could be the main fuel pump relay, which is under the dashboard. These relays sometimes fail when they get too hot, then they work again when the car cools off. A relay is much less expensive than a fuel pump.

Did the mechanic test the fuel pressure, or is he guessing the pump is bad? It would be a shame to pay for a pump and find out later it was something else.

The big question in my mind is whether or not your mechanic was able to duplicate the symptoms. If he was and found out the pump wasn’t running but was getting power at the harness, there would be no doubt for me. I have never replaced a fuel pump in an Accord, but have done a lot of distributors on them. Those can cause an intermittent no start condition. If the mechanic is just guessing, don’t have it done, but try this: get a spark plug, any spark plug, and the next time it won’t start, remove a spark plug wire, leaving it connected to the distributor, and plug it into the spare spark plug. Lay it on the valve cover or other piece of grounded metal nearby and have somebody crank the engine. There should be a nice fat spark across the gap of the plug. If it’s not there, it’s ignition related, likely the distributor.

I’ve gone through a few fuel pumps and they can be very intermittant on their way out. Work for a while and then don’t work, then work again. I would agree that the Hondas have had a problem with the relay (about $70) whent he interior gets hot. Less likely if sitting in the garage all the time. It certainly should be checked though before replacing the pump.

Not sure about Honda but many cars have a power code on their computers … it tells the mechanic if there is lack of voltage on the “fuel pump secondary circuit”. If no voltage, relay is faulty. If no code, pump is faulty.

Make sure you don’t have the pump sound when you turn the key on (before you crank the starter). Pump sound from the fuel tank and no start would indicate problem elsewhere.

Some Hondas had a problem with a fuel pump relay if I remember correctly. When the interior was hot, the engine would not start.

I was having a problem with my 1992 Honda Accord 2.2L, 4 cylinder. It would stall, sometimes, or not start, sometimes, and the transmission wouldn’t up-shift until the rpm reached 3200. Was the fault in the distributor? Was it in the fuel pump? Was it in the PGM-FI (“Main”) relay?
Here is the wiring diagram which shows the wiring for the PGM-FI relay: Register at the site if the link takes you to the home page. Return here, and click the link again. The specific diagram is the 4th one down.
I bypassed the PGM-FI relay, and all was light and happiness! So, the problem was in intermittent action within the PGM-FI relay.
On the 2.3L, 4 cylinder Accord, remove the PGM-FI relay. On the disconnected harness connector, jumper the red/white wire female terminal (power from fuse #1 ) to black/yellow wire female terminal (power to the fuel pump) and to the yellow/black wire female terminal (power to fuel injectors and PCM).
Start the car and drive. If there is still a problem, it’s NOT power supply to the fuel pump, nor fuel injectors/IAC Valve, nor to the PCM (engine computer). It may a problem within the distributor, or wiring, or ignition switch.
It does work. I’m driving this setup, right now. When I get around to it, I’ll get a new PGM-FI Relay. In the meantime…

I realize that your mechanic, for a myriad number of reasons and excuses, won’t do this test setup; but, you can insist that he change the PGM-FI Relay (aka main relay). Then, you can drive, and evaluate, the car for a few days. If it still has a problem, I’d go for changing the ignition switch. After that, the distributor needs to be tested and evaluated. The distributor has several sensors which can become faulty and cause intermittent starts and stalls.

113,000 miles on the car. Yes, the non-starting does coincide with the interior being hot! Thanks!! I called the shop this morning and asked them to be sure to check this out.

P.S. Thanks everyone for your insights!!

In my ignorance, I’m wondering if it needs a new fuel pump why does it run very well most of the time?

The fuel pump uses an electric motor. Getting a motor to start turning can be harder than keeping it turning. If the motor is just starting to fail, the symptom may well be that sometimes it won’t start spinning when power is applied. … and other times it will.

*** There is no gas smell or any other symptoms. ***

There wouldn’t be. The system is still sealed. It’s just that the pump motor isn’t turning.


If you are inclined to do some analysis yourself, many Japanese cars have the fuel pump mounted on an access plate under the back seat. If you pull the back seat out, roll up the windows, and turn the radio and heater off, you can quite likely hear the fuel pump if it is running. I’m told that on some cars, the fuel pump spins up when the ignition is turned on. On others, the fuel pump doesn’t start spinning until the starter is engaged.

If you have a no start condition, you can try having someone bang on the fuel tank with a fist (or foot)while cranking the engine. The vibration may get the pump running.