Starting Problem

Normally, when I engage the starter, the engine starts immediately, within one second. However, within the last 3 weeks, I have to crank the starter for 2 or 3 seconds before the motor starts. This situation is most pronounced after the vehicle sits over night. It’s not so bad or is non-existent if the car has sat less than an hour. I have discovered if I turn the key to the “on” position and wait for 10-20 seconds, the motor will start sooner, although it still takes longer than a second. I’m thinking it’s a fuel problem, because I can hear the in-tank fuel pump engage when I turn the key on, so that seems to be priming the system, but I don’t know if there is another pump somewhere in the engine compartment that is not performing properly. This is a 2002 model pickup with 50 K miles, has not been abused and is well maintained. Otherwise the vehicle performs well and the fuel economy has not been affected. What’s up? Is this anything I need to worry about? And why did the symptoms appear so suddenly?

You may need a new fuel filter. If it’s not been replaced then I would get a new one installed. There is only one pump in the fuel system and it should run for a few seconds when you first turn the key. It will run constantly once the engine starts. 2 or 3 seconds before an engine start is in the ballpark for most vehicles.