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Q: When Should I Have the Fuel System Inspected?

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When should I have the fuel system inspected?

A: There are many parts to a fuel system but o...

There are many parts to a fuel system but only a few that actually can be inspected visually or otherwise on most vehicles. There are several things you can do to keep your fuel system running smoothly. Try to get a fuel additive to clean the fuel system once every 10 fill ups when you get gas for your vehicle. Most fuel treatments recommend putting it in the tank after a fill up because of the strength of the cleaning agents. Not all fuel system treatments are the same so do some research to find the best one for your vehicle. The next thing you can do is make sure to not let your vehicle drop below a quarter-tank at any given time. Many people do not understand that the fuel in your tank does so much more than just make the engine run. It also lubricates the fuel pump and submerging the fuel pump in fuel stops it from overheating and seizing up. Try to always keep at least a quarter-tank of fuel in your car and your chances of a fuel pump failure will be slim. Avoiding a fuel pump failure is important because fuel pumps can be costly.

If you feel the vehicle is not performing like it should and does not have the same responsiveness it used to, then it might be time to have it inspected by a qualified technician. A mechanic cannot see inside your fuel tank but can do a volume test or a fuel pressure test to see if the pump is working efficiently. Other things they can do is a cylinder balance test to make sure all cylinders are working the same amount. On average, a tune-up could help as well depending on the milage of the vehicle and your driving habits. A person who drives slow and goes under the speed limit would be more prone to issues then someone who tends to drive very fast on the highway. However, you should never drive too fast or recklessly, so you should find other ways to get the carbon build up out of the engine from time to time. There are many ways to do this, including fuel cleaners and a special injection system cleaner that will clean all the carbon out of the engine.

An average tune up on older cars consisted of inspecting or replacing the spark plugs, fuel filter, air filter, PCV valve (positive crankcase ventilation valve), plug wires, distributer cap, rotor button, and cleaning the carburetor or throttle body. This tune-up was usually done every 30,000 miles, depending on the year of the car.

Today's vehicles need less maintenance than before. Instead of every 30,000 miles, a tune-up is done at either 70,000 miles or 100,000 miles depending on the make and model you drive. Nowadays, an average tune-up only involves changing the engine oil, air filter, and cabin air filter, and maybe a fuel filter and the spark plugs. Most vehicles now don’t have a separately replaceable fuel filter as it’s now integrated into the fuel pump in the fuel tank, and is called a fuel pump module. Also, many spark plugs use an advanced design and materials, so they don’t have to be replaced until almost 100,000 miles. But the throttle body should still be cleaned every 30,000 miles to keep everything in tip-top shape. When thinking about your fuel system and what maintenance should be done, the biggest thing as a consumer you can do to save yourself a lot of money and have less chances of a break down is to keep fuel in your car and periodically add a fuel system treatment to help keep your fuel injectors clean.

If you have a vehicle with high mileage then next time you bring your car in for service ask to have your fuel pressure checked and have a qualified technician inspect the fuel lines to make sure that they are not bent or distorted and in good condition. If you have run something over and you bend or kink a fuel line this could also cause excessive pressure buildup in your fuel pump and cause it to fail. This could also cause your engine to run too lean (not enough fuel) and cause major internal engine component failure such as valve issues and melting pistons.

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