Quite a few things can cause your car to not start and a failed fuel pump is one of them. The cool thing is that you can easily and quickly check the fuel pump (to see if it's bad or not). Why? Because GM has installed a Schrader valve on the fuel injector rail that facilitates checking the fuel pump with a fuel pressure test gauge.
Don't worry, a fuel pressure test gauge is not inexpensive diagnostic tool and you can pretty much find one (to buy) just about anywhere (AutoZone, Pepboy's, O'Reilly Auto Parts, etc). If you don't have one, I'm going to show you where you can buy one and save a few bucks in the process.
Here are the contents of this article at a quick glance:
- Symptoms of a BAD Fuel Pump.
- FUEL PUMP TEST 1: Using Starting Fluid.
- FUEL PUMP TEST 2: Fuel Pressure Test with Gauge.
- Is the Anti-Theft System Causing the No Start Condition?
- Where to Buy a Fuel Pressure Gauge.
- Where to Buy the Fuel Pump and Save.
IMPORTANT: Gasoline is extremely flammable. Be careful and take all necessary safety precautions. Use extreme care when using starting fluid since it ignites as easily as gasoline. Accomplishing both tests indicated in this article, without any unhappy consequences, is more than possible if you're careful and use common sense.
A bad fuel pump will make your 2.4L Ecotec equipped vehicle crank but not start. Here are some more specific symptoms:
- All four ignition coils, sitting on top of the valve cover, are creating and delivering spark to the spark plugs. This tells you that the no start problem is NOT due to an ignition system problem.
- You've sprayed starting fluid (or carburetor spray) into the throttle body and the engine started, even if only momentarily.
Although the above list is a not a very complete list of symptoms... the theme that runs thru' them, and any other related symptom, is that the engine will crank and crank, but not start.
Using starting fluid, to confirm a lack of fuel condition causing a no start problem, is a very old troubleshooting technique. But, using it to check for bad fuel pump on your GM vehicle (which is equipped with the Passlock Anti-Theft System) still requires that you check the fuel pump with a fuel pressure gauge.
Yep, I hate to say this but your vehicle's factory anti-theft system complicates the result of the starting fluid test. This is due to the fact that the factory anti-theft system (Theft Deterrant System) on your car can mimic a failed fuel pump.
The starting fluid test won't be able to tell you whether the lack of fuel problem is caused by an anti-theft system problem or a bad fuel pump. So, to repeat myself... this means that you still have to do a fuel pressure test (to check the fuel pump).
The starting fluid test still has its merits. Because it is a good way verify if the no-start problem is due to a lack of fuel condition (either due to a bad fuel pump or an anti-theft problem). But if you want a faster and accurate fuel pump test result, start with: TEST 2: Fuel Pressure Test with Gauge.
OK, to get this show on the road, this is what you'll need to do:
Remove the intake air duct assembly from the throttle body. You don't have to completely remove it, since you'll have to reconnect it in one of the next steps.
Open the throttle, manually, and spray starting fluid down the bore. When you have sprayed a good squirt of starting fluid, quickly reconnect the air duct to the throttle body (you don't have to tighten the hose clamp).
Reconnecting the intake air duct assembly is important because your 2.4L Ecotec equipped vehicle is equipped with a MAF sensor. Also, it's a very important safety precaution in case you get a back-fire thru' the intake.
Once the intake air duct is back on the throttle body, have your assistant, inside the vehicle, crank the engine.
You'll get one of two results with this test:
1.) The engine will start momentarily and after a few seconds will die or.
2.) The engine will only crank but not start at all.
OK, let's find out what your results mean:
CASE 1: If the engine started and ran for a few seconds: This confirms that your vehicle's no start problem is due to a lack of fuel. The only problem is that this could be due to either an anti-theft system component failure or a bad fuel pump.
I suggest that your next step be to test the fuel pump's fuel pressure with a test gauge. For this test go to: TEST 2: Testing Fuel Pressure with a Fuel Pressure Test Gauge.
For more info about an anti-theft system failure go to: Is the Anti-Theft System Causing the No Start Condition?
CASE 2: The engine did not start, not even momentarily: This test result is very inconclusive. So, your next step is to check the fuel pump pressure with a test gauge. For this test go to: TEST 2: Testing Fuel Pressure with a Fuel Pressure Test Gauge.