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1996 Buick Century:
Can Low Fuel Damage a Fuel Pump?

By
Alex Steele
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Question:

 

I am writing in regard to a problem I had with my 1996 Buick Century. While driving the car for an hour or two the engine would stop, and then after waiting ten or fifteen minutes the car would start back up again and run nicely.

 

I took it to a shop with a great reputation where they diagnosed the problem as a bad fuel pump and replaced the pump, the strainer, and the fuel filter. The car has run fine ever since! The garage people told me after completing the job that I should never let the gas tank go below the half way mark. They said this is necessary to keep the pump properly cooled.

 

My questions are why doesn't it tell me this in the owner's manual, and why wasn't the pump covered under the 50,000 mile warranty, while I only have 43,000 miles on the odometer?

 

Answer:

 

Running very low on fuel can damage a fuel pump due to the lack of lubrication when it's pumping air instead of fuel. However, never going under a half a tank of gas is a little extreme. What good is your 16.5 gallon gas tank if you never use more than 8.25 gallons at a time?

 

I'd fill up when getting close to an eighth of a tank, and never get close to "E". This will prevent any aerated fuel from entering the pump on turns, or even worse, letting the pump burn up while running out of fuel.

 

I don't have a good answer as to why they don't advise against running low on fuel in your owner's manual. Maybe they assume it to be a common sense issue.

 

Sorry, but the fuel pump is not considered an emission control related item which would be covered for five years or 50,000 miles. Therefore, it is only covered under the manufacturers three year or 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

www.realworldautomotive.com

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Buick | Fuel Pump | Warranty
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