Do fuel pumps make noises when they start to go bad?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1996

Dear Tom & Ray:

My husband and I own a 1988 Ford Escort with 79,000 miles. In several weeks
we plan to trade in the Escort for a brand-new Windstar van. When Goose,
the salesman, test-drove the Escort, he said the fuel pump was making
noises and needed to be replaced. Do fuel pumps really make noise, and why?
My husband thinks we should fix this before trading it in; however, I
disagree. Recently, I had the fuel pressure checked by a mechanic and was
told the pressure was OK. What are your thoughts? -- Evelyn

RAY: My first thought is that your husband is much too honest to be dealing
with car salesmen, Evelyn. You definitely need to tie him up and leave him
home when you go in to negotiate for the Windstar!

TOM: Fuel pumps DO make noise when they're starting to go bad. They make
something between a whine and a groan. And if Goose has accurately
diagnosed the fuel-pump noise (and that's a big "if" in my opinion, since
he's got ulterior motives), then your fuel pump may be starting to go.

RAY: But I say tough! It's possible for the fuel pump to start making noise
before it's gotten bad enough to affect the fuel pressure, and therefore
the performance of the car. And if you've had the pressure checked
recently, and it's up to specifications, then I don't think you're
obligated to fix it.

TOM: Goose is probably just trying to knock a couple of hundred bucks off
the trade-in value of your car so he can make a bigger commission and get
those sexy new plaid pants he's had his eyes on.

RAY: If the pressure specification are good, then I'd just fill up the tank
(the fuel pump is inside the gas tank, and it makes less noise when the
tank is full) and trade it in. And if Goose doesn't like it, tell him to go
lay an egg.

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