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Fuel pump replacement

2003 Chevrolet Silverado in-tank fuel pumps

Ever since my fuel pump made a loud whining noise all throughout Arizona for Burning Man 2009, I’ve always said it’s going to die and strand me someday and I should really get it replaced before then.

This Friday was the night it decided to die.  I was driving across the I-90 bridge going into Seattle when the engine started missing and I lost a lot of power. So much that I was down to 35 m.p.h. going up the last hill.  I turned off on the first exit, Rainier Ave, and pulled into a side street parking spot. As soon as I stopped, that’s all she wrote and the engine died.  At first I wasn’t sure what it was, but concluded it was the fuel pump after the engine would clearly crank for a second or two before dying.

I called AAA and they sent a tow truck to me within an hour.  I had it towed back to Alex’s shop since it would’ve been unpossible to take it to the apartment parking garage. I decided it was the fuel pump, or at the very least it needed to be replaced anyways. The next day I studied the Haynes manual for all the parts and tools I’d need, then walked over to NAPA to buy everything.

The factory specs say there should be 55-62 p.s.i. at the fuel injector rail. I repeatedly measured 19-20 p.s.i. so it was clear that wasn’t right.  I had always dreaded replacing the fuel pump since it seemed like a giant hassle and a mechanic would easily want $1k for the job. Several people on the internets advocated just removing the bed or taking a Sawz-all to make an access hole in the bed, neither of which were really options.

It wasn’t too terrible of a job. I did it completely by myself in about 12 hours of work over two days. By far the longest part was just pumping all possible gas out of the tank. I got it down to ‘E’ with the fuel warning on. Unhook the EVAC canister, disconnect the two fuel+return lines, put the tank on stands, and undo two straps.  It turns out the plastic gas tank wasn’t heavy at all, maybe 20 pounds even with the little gas left over.  Putting it back in was a hassle, this is where a 2nd set of hands to align the tank while jacking it up would’ve been handy.

After that, I was getting 55 p.s.i. at the rail again and the truck has been running fine!

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