Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Fuel Return Hose

The fuel return hose is a fuel system hose that is found on vehicles equipped with carburetors. It’s primary purpose is to return excess fuel from the carburetor to the fuel pump, however it serves other important functions as well. Aside from providing a path for excess fuel to return to the tank, the fuel return hose also prevents vapor lock and over pressurization from occurring within the carburetor. Vapor lock occurs when the fuel pressure or temperature rises too high the fuel can begin to vaporize and cause issues.

Usually a fuel return hose is made out fuel resistant rubber, not much different from the rest of the hoses on the fuel system. This leaves it susceptible to the same wear and tear that regular hoses experience, such as drying out and cracking. Usually a bad or failing fuel return hose will display a few symptoms that can alert the driver of an issue.

1. Strong fuel odor, engine misfires, and decreasing power

One of the first symptoms of an issue with the fuel return hose is an excessive fuel smell. If there is any sort of issue with the fuel hose, either a leak, or some sort of kink that blocks the flow, it may cause the vehicle to produce an excessively strong fuel odor from the engine. The odor may be a result of leaking fuel, or of the vaporization of the fuel inside of the carburetor due to vapor lock. A vapor lock induced fuel smell may also be accompanied with performance issues such as misfires, a loss in power, and fuel economy.

2. Carburetor flooding, engine stalling, and hard starting

Another symptom of a potential problem with the fuel return hose is carburetor flooding. If the fuel return hose becomes blocked or kinked it may cause the carburetor to flood from excessive fuel or pressure buildup. A flooded carburetor may cause engine stalling and hard starting until it is cleared, or enough fuel has evaporated.

3. Fuel leaks

Another symptom of a potential issue with the vehicle’s fuel return hose is leaking fuel. If the fuel return hose becomes excessively worn or damaged, it may cause fuel leaks. A leaking fuel return hose may produce drips or puddles of fuel underneath the vehicle, as well as a noticeably strong fuel odor.

Fuel hoses play an important role in the operation and performance of the engine, and when they fail, aside from the performance issues, can even become a potential safety hazard. If you suspect that your fuel return hose, or perhaps another fuel hose, may be having an issue have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one form YourMechanic, to determine if the hose should be replaced.


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Arturo

27 years of experience
303 reviews
Arturo
27 years of experience
Nissan Titan V8-5.6L - Fuel System Inspection - La Mesa, California
Informative and efficient

Johnny

33 years of experience
264 reviews
Johnny
33 years of experience
Toyota Corolla L4-1.6L - Fuel System Inspection - Sacramento, California
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Kenneth

20 years of experience
775 reviews
Kenneth
20 years of experience
BMW X5 L6-3.0L - Fuel System - Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Kenneth was extremely knowledgeable. He correctly diagnosed my vehicle by actually going under the hood, removing a section and running some sort of test that told him exactly what the problem was. He also arrived 15 minutes early and had prepared for the visit by contacting me the day prior to get further clarification.

Raymond

37 years of experience
402 reviews
Raymond
37 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.4L - Fuel System - Las Vegas, Nevada
Raymond was very knowledgeable mechanic and through in his testing. I trust him for any future from your mechanic.

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