Electric fuel pumps are tools used to power automotive engine systems by providing fuel through electronic means. The electric pump is an innovation that came about after WWII, making care for such components more efficient, reliable, and affordable. Since then, it has served as an alternative to manual fuel pump systems and is widely considered more convenient for the function and operation of motor vehicles.
An electric fuel pump is generally small in size and thermally insulated to prevent sparking. It consists of a 12-volt electric motor mounted to a pump assembly that draws in fuel in as the motor spins and pushes it out via a different line that goes directly to the engine compartment. In some configurations, fuel passes through a fuel filter once it leaves the pump or it may be filtered before the pump. Furthermore, the assembly runs at a constant pressure, allowing for optimum fuel delivery to the engine without interruption. This also prevents air from getting in the fuel lines and causing problems.
Early versions of fuel pumps were manual in operation and utilized the engine’s rotation which caused a small arm to lift and pull fuel into a float bowl. When fuel enters the float bowl, it can be sucked by a vacuum into the carburetor to be delivered to the engine. While this system was effective for some time, the issues that came along with manual fuel pumps would quickly make their use obsolete.
For instance, with manual fuel pumps, vapor lock was a major issue when the vehicle was stopped and an attempt to start it again was carried out. Vapor lock was especially likely during hotter weather as tiny bubbles would form within the fuel lines. Because of this, the bubbles would not pass through the mechanical fuel pump, causing the vehicle to stall when starting it, or not start at all.
As a modern alternative to manual pumps, electric fuel pumps are mounted inside a vehicle’s fuel tank. Instead of being powered by the engine’s rotation as is the case with manual fuel pumps, electric fuel pumps are powered by the vehicle’s electrical system, meaning that the pump is independent of the operation of the engine. More than that, electric fuel pumps can deliver more fuel at a higher pressure to ensure the engine receives all the fuel it needs to work optimally.
Due to the fact that an electric fuel pump pressurizes a fuel system before an engine is started, there is always a constant supply of fuel being delivered in the lines at the proper pressure. Most importantly, there are no air bubbles to cause vapor lock. Regardless of the benefits that electric fuel pumps offer, prolonging their service life and ensuring they stay in working condition begins with the proper maintenance.
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