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Replaced a fuel filter, ran great then a week later...died again like its the fuel!

I have a broken gas gauge so i pretty much run it until its empty. Has been fine but just died about a week ago. Nothing else was wrong with it. Worked and ran great after for about a week then i went to start and it did the same thing. I have listened for the fuel pump and it sounds like its working. I have not checked the fuses…I am curious what else it could be if after one week with a fuel filter it would do it again :frowning:

I had this problem w/a late 70’s VW Rabbit. I’d replace the fuel filter, and within a few days the car would start running poorly. Each time, I took apart the fuel distributor (part of VW’s fuel injection system at the time) and it was contaminated with sand and dirt. I never did figure out what caused it, but somehow replacing the fuel filter caused sand to lodge in the fuel distributor. The fuel distributor was post-filter, so it really was a puzzle. How did I fix it? I just cleaned out the fuel distributor, fired it up, the engine ran fine then, and the problem never returned. Until next time I replaced the fuel filter. Then I’d have to go through the whole thing again in a few days.

What make/model/year do you have?

We all prefer to know what kind of vehicle is causing the problem, @angiemarie. Please fill us in. But, regardless of the car, if it is newer than 1990 it has eletronic fuel injection with an electric fuel pump that is prone to fail when it operates in an empty tank. Sometimes it doesn’t fail the moment that you run out of gas but soon afterward. Also, the fuel guage often operates on the same ground connection as the fuel pump and a faulty guage might indicate a poor electrical connection at the tank. If you hear the fuel pump operating at the tank the circuits that power it are all functioning. The pressure must be tested and if it is not up to spec the pump must be accessed and checked.

We really need the model year

What engine do you have?

Hey guys its a 99 oldmobile alero. 4 cylinder 2.4 liter

with my gas gauge/needle in the dash, the needle had flipped around and is up on the peg so it does not work. I have been going off of mileage and or wait until the empty light goes on before i put gas in. My engine was replaced and when this was done the needle flipped backwards and i have not gotten it fixed.

Try stopping by the dealer and getting an “exploded view” drawing of the instrument cluster installation. It’s possible that it’ll be easy to remove the cluster, pop the lens off, and push the needle back on. They’re just press fitted onto the shafts, and on modern cars the cluster is just a plug-in module. The old days of disconnecting speedo cables has been pretty much gone for many years now.

Re: the problem itself, the ECU should have stored some codes at this point. Try having them read and post them here.

Other ideas:
Since it’s rarely used, how old is the gas?
When was the last time it had new plugs, filters etc.? The whole problem could simply be overdue maintenance.

Beyond that, there are a number of possibilities including but not limited to a simple vacuum leak. If you’d like to check for this yourself, simply spray a bit of ether (starter fluid) around the vacuum lines while the engine is idling. If there’s a leak, the engine vacuum will pull the ether in and the idle will increase.

Its not rarely used, I drive this car everyday…gas is not old but i run it until its empty before i fill it up again do to the needle of the gas gauge being stuck up over the post. plugs have been at least two years…air filter is fine and now i have replaced the fuel filter, that seemed to fix the problem until a week later it did the same thing. Going to go work on it now and see whats going on. Will let you guys know. Thank you

So i filled the tank with gas, pulled the fuel pump relay and it looked fine. I turn the key to the on position and i can hear the pump humming through tank and also the click sound on the relay switch. Pump should be fine right? Car would not start, banged the tank while starting car and it started just fine! turned it off, started up, turned it off and would not start. Bang the tank its fine. SO I really do not want to spend money on pump if i can try some other things first. No other symptoms while driving. Only only, sometimes it seemed when i went to accelerate that it did not have the power to go…almost seemed like it needed to warm up…next day is when it died. PLEASE HELP! Do not have much money…

A new pump seems to be in your future.

Sorry about that “rarely used” thing. I must’ve been seeing things again…

With the additional information, I’m inclined to agree with Rod. I should add that a dying pump WILL often hum. Be advised that the pump can be tested. It’s simply a matter of “T-ing” a fitting into the fuel line, adding a pressure gage, and starting the pump. Since you’re not mechanically knowledgable and it is necessary to depressurize the fuel line before fooling with it, I’d suggest having a shop test it. I’d hate to see you accidently get gas everywhere and risk a fire.

It does sound like the fuel pump is on the fritz, and you will likely need a new one to resume reliable operation. But there’s a slight chance the electrical connector near the fuel pump is corroded or the contacts are burned. A lot of current goes through this connector, and it isn’t unheard of for the connector to overheat and become unreliable. Banging on the gas tank may be jiggling the connector enough to make good contact again, for a while at least. Ask your mechanic to check. You might luck out and just need a new pump electrical connector installed.

georgesanjose. nothing looked corroded everything looked fine…it died again today and just took a little bang on tank to start it. If the pump is going out wouldnt it affect while i was driving? Never stalls or anything, runs great when I am driving. Will have to see about a pump:(

thanks samemountainbike…i have depressurized the line :slight_smile: i have replaced the fuel filter. looks like I will be trying a new fuel pump :frowning: hope that is the problem


" . . . took a little bang on the tank to start it."

You need a new fuel pump . . . absolutely no doubt about it

My recommendation . . . install a brand new AC Delco pump assembly and filter. Make sure the pump assembly comes with the sender also (the float)

After that, your car will start reliably, and the fuel gauge will work correctly

Good luck, and please keep us updated

Thanks @db4690

@angiemarie on many of those GM vehicles if you disconnect the battery and do a capacitive discharge, the fuel gauge will flip back.

To do this, take the negative cable off, then touch the negative cable to the still connected positive cable. Reattach positive cable. Hope this helps a secondary issue you’ve had.

To do this, take the negative cable off, then touch the negative cable to the still connected positive cable. Reattach positive cable. Hope this helps a secondary issue you've had.

WTH ! Never heard of this before. Is this possibly a real procedure? It seems like a really weird thing to try.