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failing motorcycle fuel pump

How To Tell If Your Motorcycle’s Fuel Pump Is Going Bad

Fuel pumps are an integral part of a motorcycle’s fuel system, ensuring the engine receives the right amount of fuel for optimal performance. Just like any other mechanical component, fuel pumps on motorcycles can experience wear and tear over time, leading to various issues. In this guide, we’ll delve into the world of motorcycle fuel pumps, discussing signs of trouble, testing methods, and replacement considerations.

Key Takeaways

  • Recognizing signs of a malfunctioning fuel pump is essential for maintaining your motorcycle’s performance.
  • Regular testing and prompt replacement of a faulty fuel pump are crucial for a well-functioning fuel system.
  • Following best practices can stop you from getting stranded, and help you get your motorcycle back on the road again.

9 Signs Of A Bad Motorcycle Fuel Pump

Similar to cars, motorcycles exhibit clear indicators when the fuel pump is struggling. Fuel pump failures can be common on several motorcycles including Harley-Davidson Softail and Touring models from 2007 to 2011, BMW R1200GS from the mid-2000s, Kawasaki ZX-10Rs from the early 2010s, and Honda CBR1000RR’s from 2004 until 2007.

Being attentive to these signs can help you address potential problems before they leave you stranded:

Common Symptoms of Motorcycle Fuel Pump Failures

  • Difficulty Starting: If your motorcycle has trouble starting or requires multiple attempts to start, it could be due to insufficient fuel delivery caused by a failing fuel pump.
  • Engine Sputtering or Stalling: A bad fuel pump might result in engine sputtering or stalling, especially during acceleration or while cruising at higher speeds.
  • Loss of Power: A decrease in power and performance, including sluggish acceleration and reduced top speed, can indicate a fuel pump issue.
  • Hesitation or Jerking: If your motorcycle hesitates or jerks during acceleration or at constant speeds, it could be a sign of inconsistent fuel supply from a faulty fuel pump.
  • Whining Noise: Unusual high-pitched noises, resembling whining or buzzing, coming from the fuel tank area while the engine is running could indicate a struggling fuel pump.
  • Engine Overheating: A malfunctioning fuel pump can lead to an overly lean fuel-air mixture, causing the engine to run hotter than usual.
  • Frequent Engine Misfires: Misfires or backfiring can occur due to improper fuel delivery, resulting in unburned fuel entering the exhaust system.
  • Poor Fuel Efficiency: Noticeable reduction in fuel efficiency or a significant drop in mileage can be attributed to an inadequate fuel pump.
  • Difficulty Idling: Trouble maintaining a steady idle or frequent stalling while idling might be a result of insufficient fuel supply.
  • Engine Won’t Start: In severe cases, a bad fuel pump can prevent the engine from starting at all, leaving you stranded.

Diagnosing A Bad Motorcycle Fuel Pump

If you suspect a faulty fuel pump in your motorcycle, there are a few different angles you can take to test your fuel pump.

Testing Your Fuel Pump

First, make sure your engine is cool, your ignition is turned off, and if your motorcycle has a fuel petcock you turn it to the “ON” or “RUN” position. Identify your fuel pump by looking at a parts microfiche for your motorcycle. Then you can try any of the following tests:

Test 1: Listening Test

  • Turn the ignition to the “ON” position.
  • Listen carefully near the fuel tank area for a humming or buzzing sound. This indicates the fuel pump is running and delivering fuel.
  • If you don’t hear any noise, it might suggest a faulty fuel pump or related electrical issue.

Test 2: Fuel Flow Test 

  • If your motorcycle allows, you can perform a fuel flow test to ensure fuel is reaching the engine.
  • Disconnect the fuel line from the fuel pump outlet and place it into a container.
  • Turn the ignition to the “ON” position briefly (do not start the engine) to see if fuel flows from the disconnected line.
  • You can also remove the fuel pump from your motorcycle and bench test it using a battery if you suspect an electrical issue within your motorcycle.

Test 3: Fuel Pressure Test

  • A fuel pressure test measures the pressure of the fuel system to ensure it’s within the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • You’ll need a fuel pressure gauge and the appropriate fittings for your motorcycle’s fuel system.
  • Locate the fuel pressure test port on the fuel rail or fuel lines (consult your motorcycle’s manual).
  • Attach the fuel pressure gauge to the test port.
  • Turn the motorcycle’s ignition to the “ON” position (without starting the engine) to allow the fuel pump to pressurize the system.
  • Read the pressure on the gauge and compare it to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure range. You may need a service manual or to call your dealer to get this information.

How Do You Maximize The Life Of Your Motorcycle’s Fuel Pump?

There are a number of things you can do to ensure the longevity of your motorcycle’s fuel pump. Unfortunately this also means there are a a number of things you could do which could cause premature wear to your fuel pump. Here are 15 tips and best practices to help your fuel pump last as long as possible:

  1. Use Quality Fuel: Use high-quality, clean, and reputable fuel from trusted gas stations. Avoid using fuel with high ethanol content, as there are over a dozen reasons of why high ethanol gas can be potentially very bad for motorcycles.
  2. Fuel Filter Maintenance: Keep the fuel filter clean and replace it according to the manufacturer’s recommended intervals to prevent debris from reaching the fuel pump and fuel injectors.
  3. Avoid Running on Empty: Running your motorcycle on very low fuel levels can cause the fuel pump to overheat due to inadequate lubrication. Refuel before the fuel level becomes critically low.
  4. Ride Regularly: Regularly riding your motorcycle helps keep the fuel system active and prevents fuel from stagnating, which can lead to clogs and deposits.
  5. Fuel Stabilizer: If your motorcycle is stored for an extended period, consider using a fuel stabilizer to prevent fuel degradation and clogs in the fuel system.
  6. Avoid Aggressive Riding: Rapid acceleration and aggressive riding can strain the fuel pump and fuel system. Smooth and gradual throttle inputs are less fun but gentler on the system.
  7. Idle Warm-up: Allow the motorcycle to warm up and idle for a short time before riding. This helps ensure proper fuel flow and lubrication through the system.
  8. Electrical System Check: Ensure your motorcycle’s electrical system is in good condition, as faulty wiring or voltage irregularities like from a weak or loose battery can impact the fuel pump’s performance.
  9. Keep the Tank Clean: Avoid introducing debris or contaminants into the fuel tank. A clean tank prevents particles from reaching the fuel pump.
  10. Parking Considerations: Park your motorcycle in a dry, sheltered area to prevent water or moisture from entering the fuel tank and causing corrosion.
  11. Fuel System Cleaner: Periodically using a reputable fuel system cleaner can help keep injectors and fuel lines clean, promoting better fuel pump performance.
  12. Proper Storage: If your motorcycle will be stored for an extended period, you should fill the tank and use fuel stabilizer to avoid fuel deterioration or moisture entering the system.
  13. Avoid Fuel Additives: Some additives are too strong, or motorcyclists mistakenly add them in too high volumes, which can potentially harm your fuel pump.

Fuel Pump Replacement

Effective maintenance of your motorcycle’s fuel system includes timely replacement of a failing fuel pump.

When to Replace Your Fuel Pump

  • Persistent engine performance issues even after regular maintenance.
  • Confirmation of fuel pump malfunction through diagnostic tests.

Fuel Pump Replacement Process

  • Refer to your motorcycle’s manual for precise instructions tailored to your model.
  • Safely drain the fuel tank and access the fuel pump as needed.
  • Disconnect electrical connections and fuel lines before carefully removing the old pump.
  • Install the new fuel pump, reattach fuel lines and connections, and reassemble any disassembled parts.
  • Thoroughly inspect your work to ensure all components are properly secured.

Fuel Pump Replacement Cost

The cost of replacing a motorcycle’s fuel pump varies depending on factors like the make, model, and labor rates. On average, expect a replacement cost could range from one to two hours of labor plus the price of parts.

Each motorcycle shop determines their own labor rate, but it’s not uncommon to pay about $100/hour across North America these days. The cost and availability of a fuel pump will vary largely based by motorcycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my motorcycle’s fuel pump is failing? Look for signs such as difficulty starting, engine stalling, unusual noises, and reduced performance.

What are the most common symptoms of a bad fuel pump for motorcycles? Common indicators include sputtering, power loss, high-pitched noises, and hesitation during acceleration.

Is it possible for a motorcycle’s fuel pump to suddenly stop working? Yes, sudden fuel pump failure can occur due to various factors, including wear and electrical issues.

What are some temporary fixes for a bad fuel pump on a motorcycle? While not recommended for long-term solutions, tapping the fuel tank or adding fuel system cleaner might offer temporary relief.

How long can I ride with a failing fuel pump on my motorcycle? Continuing to ride with a failing fuel pump can lead to more severe damage and exposing yourself to potential risk. It’s best to deal with a failing fuel pump right away before the situation gets more expensive and more dangerous.

How much does it cost to replace a motorcycle’s fuel pump? Replacement costs vary but expect to pay for an hour or two of labor, plus parts.

How can I tell the difference between a blocked carburetor and a failing fuel pump? The symptoms of a blocked carburetor and a failing fuel pump are similar but different. If your motorcycle is carbureted, it’s a good idea to test your fuel pump and your carburetor. A motorcycle with a blocked carburetor may die at idle and may blow black smoke from a rich mixture. Luckily, carburetors are becoming increasingly rare in the motorcycle world.


Your motorcycle’s fuel pump plays a pivotal role in its overall performance. There are a lot of things you can do to help maximize your fuel pump’s life, but if you suspect that it may be failing, it’s a good idea to test it right away, before it leaves you stranded or puts you at risk while you’re riding.

About Adrian from YouMotorcycle

I started riding motorcycles in 2007, founded YouMotorcycle in 2009, and was working in the motorcycle industry by 2011. I've worked for some of the biggest companies in motorcycling, before going full-time self-employed in the motorcycle business in 2019. I love sharing his knowledge and passion of motorcycling with other riders to help you as best I can.


  1. Should I check my fuel pump to catch issues early?

    • Hey Kapil, check out the part about “Common Symptoms of Motorcycle Fuel Pump Failures”. Are you having any of those symptoms?
      This time of year, difficulty starting, and engine sputtering or stalling happen more often due to a neglected battery, or carburetors having a hard time warming up in the cold. If your battery is topped up and your motorcycle isn’t fuel injected, you might want to investigate a little if you’re experiencing any of those symptoms. But if you’re not experiencing any of the symptoms, I would leave it alone… The only exception would be if you were planning on going on a long motorcycle trip soon and want to really cross your Ts and dot your Is, but if not, I wouldn’t worry about it. Hope this helps. Sorry for the long reply!

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