Nobody ever said the mechanics of a car were easy to understand. Unless you were born with a ratchet in one hand and a wrench in the other, we’re guessing the complexity of diesel fuel lift pumps and diesel filtration systems go right over your head. And, if that’s the case, how are you ever going to know what type of diesel fuel lift pump — mechanical or electric — is best for you and your vehicle? Easy: we’re going to explain both of them to you!
The Minutiae of Mechanical Pumps
Mechanical diesel fuel pumps have been around for decades, though the switch to electric everything these days has seen them becoming less and less popular. The work mainly on older engines with carburetors: the pump siphons fuel from the gas tank and pushes it to the carburetor when the engine is cranking or running. Though they won’t quite stand up to boosted applications or engines running nitrous with higher horsepower ratings, they are a convenient and affordable choice for those who simply use their vehicles to get from point A to point B. They’re quiet, require minimal effort to install, and (since they aren’t electric, obviously) have no wiring to muck around with or worry about. If you want to push your engine or give it a little extra kick, however, electric fuel pumps are the way to go.
The Excitement of Electric Pumps
For vehicles that really purr, pushing the limits and efficiency of your engine, electric pumps are essential. They’re needed in situations where higher fuel pressures are required (like boosted applications, nitrous, and fuel injection — the latter begins at 30,000 PSI). Sometimes, mechanical pumps simply won’t fit in your car, forcing you to go electric instead; however, they offer a wide variety of flow rates and pressure outputs, making them incredibly versatile and able to work well in many vehicles. Most electric fuel pumps require a 12 volt circuit with a relay that gives you multiple shut-off options, but they must be properly placed in order to guarantee efficiency. Although they’re more expensive, they are generally more efficient and safer options.
Essentially, your choice of diesel fuel lift pump relies on your personal needs, from budget to boosts. If you have any questions, you can always contact your local mechanic for advice.