After reading a related question, I suppose my problem could be the relay, so I'll have to check that as well. However, the problem is still the same: My car won't start, and I don't hear the fuel pump coming on.

This started one day when I ran out of gas (floating needle, tried to stretch it), after refilling with over 3 gallons it still won't start. Now I'm thinking the fuel pump was probably on it's way out for a while, and the problem didn't really surface until the tank and lines ran empty. Could this be the case? 2001 Buick Regal FYI.

Update 20140120

Just an update, I swapped out the pump some months back and it resolved the issue.

3 Answers 3


Very possible. Letting a fuel pump run dry can quickly burn out the motor in the pump. The presence of fluid keeps the impeller from rotating as quickly and the gasoline also cools the pump as it operates. Without gas flowing through it can quickly overheat.

That being said however you may just have air in the lines. I am not sure whether your vehicle has a returnless or return style fuel system but make sure you cycle the key into on position atleast three times letting it stay in the on position for at least 5 seconds each time. This should allow your pump (if it is working) to prime the fuel system and bleed out any air.

A returnless system might have more trouble getting air out than a return style but I think your's would be a return style anyway.

Also if you wanted to check if your fuel pump is still working maybe go take the engine side of the fuel filter out slide a vacuum hose or similar over the quick connect tube (leave the fuel pump side plugged in) then put the vacuum hose into a container, and put the car to the on position. You should see gas fly out of the hose and into the container. If it doesn't or is slow replace the pump.

If it does come out at a decent pace you may have to check the pressure.


Just FYI, I had a 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP (same basic engine and transmission I think, GM 3800 Series II engine) that the fuel pump relay went bad on. When you turned the key, you could here the pump power on and pressurize. The car would start and idle, but as soon as you put it in drive or pressed the gas, the engine would die.

I've been told that many of the vehicles from Buick and Pontiac that used the 3800 Series II engines also used identical fuel pumps and relays that were known for this failure mode.

  • +1, I thought about the relay after I bought the pump, so I went ahead and swapped it anyway since I didn't have a relay (pump was $40 on ebay brand new, tank seal and all). If nothing else it would resolve my floating needle I've been dealing with for almost 7 years. Turns out it was the pump after all.
    – MDMoore313
    May 28, 2013 at 16:22
  • 1
    Luckily, even with modern fuel injected engines, a failing fuel pump and relay behave similarly to older, non-fuel injected cars (for the most part). Glad you got it resolved!
    – Chiron
    May 28, 2013 at 20:49

I have 01 Chevy Tahoe it will start up for about a second, idle up then shutters an then shutt down when given gas. I replace the mass air flow sensor thinking that was the problem but It was not. Then I replace the fuel pump relay did not work again. so I was thinking to sale it by then. But last an not lease the fuel pump fixed the problem.

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