Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Air Pump

An air pump, also commonly referred to as a smog pump, is an emissions component that is part of the secondary air injection system. It is responsible for pumping clean air into the vehicle’s exhaust stream to promote a cleaner and more complete burn before the fumes exit the tailpipe. By injecting clean air into the exhaust, the amount of hydrocarbon pollutants produced by the vehicle is reduced, as the entire system is finely tuned to run with the air provided by the air pump.

When it fails, the overall performance of the engine may suffer due to the lack of air. Many states also have strict emissions regulations for their road going vehicles, and any problems with the air pump or the air injection system can not only cause performance problems, but also cause the vehicle to fail an emissions test. Usually, a failed air pump will produce a few noticeable symptoms that can alert the driver that the vehicle requires attention.

1. Engine is running rough

One of the first symptoms of a bad or failing smog pump is a rough running engine. When a smog pump fails the finely tuned air-fuel ratios can be upset, and it will negatively affect the performance of the engine. The engine may have trouble idling, and may drop in engine speed, or stall when the pedal is pressed.

2. Reduced horsepower

Another common symptom of a bad air pump is a reduction in power output from the engine. Again, a failed smog pump can upset the tune of the vehicle, which will negatively impact overall engine performance. A failed air pump may cause the engine to hesitate or stumble on acceleration, and in more serious cases, cause a noticeable reduction in total power output.

3. Check Engine Light comes on

Another symptom that may be indicative of a bad air pump is an illuminated Check Engine Light. This will usually only occur after the computer has detected the air pump has completely failed, or an electrical problem with the air pump circuit has occurred. A Check Engine Light can also be caused by other problems, so it is important to have the computer scanned for trouble codes before making any repairs.

The air pump is an important component of the emissions system, and necessary to keep your vehicle running in proper order so that it can meet the proper emission requirements. If you suspect that your air pump may be having a problem, or your Check Engine Light has come on, have the vehicle diagnosed by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic. If necessary, they will be able to replace the air pump and restore proper performance to your vehicle.


Next Step

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Recent Exhaust and Emission System Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

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Rating Summary
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Raymond

27 years of experience
223 reviews
Raymond
27 years of experience
Chevrolet Traverse V6-3.6L - right temperature door motor - Victorville, California
Excellent service. Very honest.
Cadillac SRX - Air is not coming out of vents - Apple Valley, California
Shows and explains it all to me. I am somewhat mechanically inclined so he explained it in layman’s terms.

Carlos

16 years of experience
362 reviews
Carlos
16 years of experience
Acura TL V6-3.2L - Power Steering Belt - Grand Prairie, Texas
Carlos showed up and got the job done quickly. He was very helpful and answered any questions l had for him. He went over everything with me as well. Good service at a great price!!!
Audi A4 Quattro - Headlight Switch Replacement - Fort Worth, Texas
I was contacted by Carlos shortly after service was requested. Additional info was requested and had a phone call before he arrived. I was showed the replacement part and he went to work. All work was done in a timely manner and area was left neat and clean. I was shown the defected part and the condition it was in. Thank you for your professionalism and expertise in taking care of my vehicle. I will call for future maintenance on my car and my wife's vehicle.

MICHAEL

33 years of experience
184 reviews
MICHAEL
33 years of experience
Mercury Mountaineer V6-4.0L - Exhaust and Emission System - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Did everything he could to track down a emissions code, after all recommended to replace a bad PCM.

Pedro

22 years of experience
33 reviews
Pedro
22 years of experience
Infiniti Q60 V6-3.0L Turbo - Exhaust and Emission System - Woodland Hills, California
Very professional and honest. Was fortunate to have him be the one to show up. Thank you Pedro!

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