How To Check Fuel Pressure Without Gauge

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Knowing how to check your car’s fuel pressure without a gauge is what you need to take seriously.

It doesn’t matter how elegant or well-designed your vehicle is. Safety takes –or should take precedence over beauty. That’s a given, methinks.

Do you still remember what I said when I was discussing the danger of driving with a faulty oil pressure sensor?

The oil pressure sensor may go bad and so hampers the fuel pressure gauge from receiving a signal on your dashboard.

What it implies is that you cannot always check the fuel pressure using the pressure gauge. When this happens, what should you do?

The answer is why you need to read this article to the end. Don’t forget, there are the minimum and maximum fuel pressures your car engine should work with.

If it exceeds there’s a danger; if it falls short, it doesn’t seem right either. It is a disaster if there’s no fuel pressure in your car.

How To Test Fuel Pressure Without A Gauge

There are a few methods to check the fuel pressure of your car without using the gauge. Some are basic; others require some expertise, special tools, and technical skills.

For instance, if your engine has a hard start, you’re likely to experience a no or low fuel pressure. Diagnosing it will require you to use the fuel pressure gauge.

But here you’re without a gauge. Will you leave the poor car to suffer from the lack of fuel pressure? That’ll be suicidal, trust me.

Method 1: Listen To Fuel Pump Buzz

This is the easiest and most basic method to test your fuel pressure without a gauge. You’ve got to start with hearing the buzz of the fuel pump.

Turn the ignition key from OFF to NO and if you don’t hear a pump buzzing sound, then there’s a need to replace the fuel pump.

You may even hear the buzz yet your car engine performance is poor.

In this case, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Locate and remove the fuel pump.
  • Locate the pump’s output port connected to the fuel filter.
  • Disconnect the line that joins the filter to the pump.
  • With your finger, you should block the passage of the hose to avoid fuel draining.
  • Ask a friend to start the car.
  • Feel the pressure from the fuel pump. If the fuel isn’t pushing your finger, then there’s no pressure.

Method 2: Use OBD-2 Code Reader 

Another method to check fuel pressure without a gauge is to connect the OBD-II scanning device to your car.

Make sure the device you’re buying is compatible with your car. Here’s the step-by-step guide to using the code reader.

  • Start Your Car: Switch on the car and allow the engine to idle for a few minutes. You can drive around for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will help avoid taking the wrong readings that result from cold engines.
  • Locate The OBD Port: Beneath the car dash, find the OBD socket. It can also be directly under the steering wheel but a little above the brake and gas pedals.
  • Connect The OBD-II Scanner: Once you found the socket, remove the covering trim, and connect your diagnostic code reader.
  • Input The Diagnostic Code: If you have a generic diagnostic code, input the code. The code is usually found on the engine bay.
  • Take The Reading: Take the readings and error code displayed on the engine bay. The scanner will display the error code(s).
  • Pull Out The OBD-II Scanner: once you have jotted down the codes, its’ time to pull out the code reader. I will discuss the different error codes and their meaning later.
  • Monitor The Fuel Pressure Readings: It’s possible that the scanner doesn’t indicate any code. What you should do instead is to check the live fuel pressure data from the device. Some scanners support live data. You can follow this data.

You can take the reading while the engine is running. The display varies from car models to car models.

What is important is that the code reader will show the current level of fuel pressure. if you continuously rev the engine, the fuel pressure should stay constant.

If it does, it means that the overall fuel pressure system is in good health. If not, it needs a replacement.

When Should I Check Fuel Pump Pressure Of My Car?

Something must trigger you to want to check the fuel pressure of your car.

It can be either your car is giving some danger signs or simply out of your routine maintenance and service.

Whatever is the case, checking the fuel pressure is necessary for the health of your car.

Here are symptoms of low fuel pressure that can necessitate checking the fuel pump pressure.

Hard start:

This is a common symptom when the needed amount of engine gas is not coming from the fuel pump.

Enough fuel needs to get to the injector to facilitate a complete combustion process.

As a result of low oil pressure from the fuel pump, the engine will experience a hard start.

In most cases, when the fuel pressure is low, the engine won’t start but may only rev.

Power loss:

A weak fuel pump cannot fulfill the high fuel demand of the engine.

When the car is driving uphill, in high-load situations, needs power and acceleration, the engine may lose power and give up.

Unresponsive Throttle:

Proper fuel delivery to your car engine cylinders makes the throttle response.

But if you hit your foot on the gas pedal and it lags, there’s a chance that the fuel pressure of your car is low.

The Engine Sputters:

Another sign that you need to check your fuel pressure is when the engine pops at high speeds.

You’ll notice this sign more often when you drive for long. The engine will start to get back to normal or sputter when it’s at high speeds.

This often results from a lack of constant supply of stream of fuel to the engine.

Engine Misfire:

A car engine will misfire when there is low fuel pressure. This often results from a faulty air-fuel mixture.

As a result, there will be weak or incomplete combustion. The engine can misfire at idle or on acceleration. When this happens, it’s time to check your fuel pressure.

Other symptoms include poor engine performance, increase in engine temperature, turbo lag, and black smoke from the exhaust.

What Are The Diagnostic Fuel Pressure Error Codes Mean?

The various diagnostic code devices display several codes when you’re testing the fuel pressure of your car.

These error or trouble codes have their respective meanings. With the OBD-II scanner, for example, the codes are displayed in the “P” series.

Error Code 1: P0191

If your OBD-II scanner records this error code, it means that the fuel rail pressure sensor circuit “A” is troubled.

In other words, there’s a chance that the fuel rail pressure readings have some abnormalities.

Low or high fuel pressure is one of the mechanical triggers of the P0191 code.

Error Code 2: P018C

The error code P018C indicates that the fuel pressure sensor “B” has a pretty low circuit.

Low or high fuel pressure is a principal cause of this code. A bad sensor is also a potential suspect.

Error Code 3: P0087

With this code coming up, there is potential damage to your fuel rail or system pressure.

The code is an indication that there’s low fuel pressure at the fuel pressure sensor.

The fuel delivery system is in potential danger when the P0087 trouble code is displayed during OBD-II diagnosis.

Error Code: P0088

When the engine control module has detected a high fuel pressure in your fuel delivery system, this code comes up. It’s the direct opposite of P0087.

 What Is The Standard Fuel Pressure?

Engine horsepower and size determine what fuel pressure it will operate with. On average, most cars operate at a fuel pressure in the region of 40 and 70 psi.

This also applies to the idle fuel pressure. The normal idle pressure is 40 psi.

However, if your vehicle runs with diesel, the ideal fuel pressure stands between 2000 for bar or 29,000 psi if using injectors.

Final Thoughts 

No one wishes to see their car stuck in the middle of the road. The experience of a hard start is not something you hope for, either.

At first, you may want to blame these lousy experiences on the lack of injector pulse or defective spark plugs.

A dead battery may also be an innocent suspect. When the fuel tank fails to supply enough fuel pressure to the engine, your car may not start.

Knowing the amount of fuel pump pressure that gets into your engine can help you prevent hard-to-start, no start, or car stuck experiences.

Ideally, professional mechanics will go for a fuel pressure gauge to do a neat and perfect job.

But without this special tool, the two methods outlined above work magic as well.