02 Cummins Lift Pump

Hey, Folks. I have a 2002 Ram 2500 with the Cummins TD (regular output, not the high output) and I've got a problem; low lift pump pressure. I have checked the fuel pressure on the low side of the
injector pump and it shows 5 PSI at idle, and jumps to zero on throttle up. :(
I had noticed the truck running poorly the last 5 thousand miles (intermittenly) with some power loss from time to time and more and more frequent experiences with a gray fog from the exhaust and anemic performance. I finally decided that it wasn't just the cold weather causing it to not run well, it was something else and checked the fuel pressure at the injector pump and found the problem. However, in the process of tracking the problem down I had changed the fuel filter (between the lift pump and the injector pump (which I normally change every 15,000 miles)) and found that there was trash in the bottom of the fuel filter housing. That meant that the trash travelled from the tank through the lift pump and stopped at the fuel filter.
I use a fuel transfer tank (bought new) and I only run street-legal diesel in this truck (and that tank), and yet there was enough trash introduced to the system that it managed to (seemingly) trash my lift pump (about 300 bucks just to buy the pump). What's more disconcerting is this; the filter mesh in the tank (I dropped the tank and pulled the module with filter mesh) was NOT clogged with garbage which means that the filter element/mesh/screen there was NOT adequate to stop particulate matter that could damage my lift pump from getting to the lift pump.
So, I wasn't running a filter on the fuel from the transfer tank to the primary (factory) tank and I'm a naughty boy and I've bought a filter to go on that transfer tank to help keep this from happening again.
In the meantime, however, I still have some trash in the tank that I can't flush out, and more importantly, it's not a perfect world, some junk is always going to get into our fuel tanks (unless you just live in the city and drive only to and from work on paved roads and never anywhere else...and even then...).
So where we are with this topic is this: once junk gets into the tank there is NOTHING of consequence to stop it before it hits the lift pump. Sure, that mesh will stop nickels and diamonds and small meteors, but it won't stop trash that's capable (I checked it for tears that would; found none) of trashing a 300 dollar (just for the part, your labor or their's is extra) lift pump. Once junk gets inside the tank (whether it's rust from a transfer tank or dust from the oil patch or the farm or even if it's simply whatever funk the last user left on the diesel nozzle) it's got a first class ticket to your lift pump and a blown lift pump can quicky cost you a 1400+ dollar injector pump.
Which finally leads me to my question; what can I do to pull fuel from my factory tank to my engine that will allow me to filter the heck out of it and also use a cheaper to replace pump? I love my truck and have aspirations of hitting 400k+ miles on it, so I want something that is easy and cheap to replace that I can add onto the factory provisions which seem inadequate. My initial inspection of the fuel lines seems to indicate it's some kind of light-weight, thin-walled plastic tubing from the tank to the engine compartment, so working with that could be tricky. I don't mind installing the 300 buck lift pump I have and another, cheaper, one before that. The kind of filtration we're talking here will probably require positive pressure that might exceed suction capability, meaning it might be necessary to have a pump before the added filter I'd like to have. That would submit the primary pump (hopefully some cheap pump) to some hell to drive the fuel and junk through the primary filter, before the lift pump, but if it's cheap and and I carry a spare who cares?
Basically I want to avoid this problem from ever happening again and I'll do it by putting a gauge on the low-side of the injector pump to see what my fuel-feed pressure is and by, hopefully with the help of this post, finding a cheap pump to drive the dirty fuel through a highly-effective filter before it reaches the lift pump. I'd like to know specifics about any solutions you might think of or know of.
Thank you for your time.
--HC
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Oh, I realize in re-reading my post that I forgot to mention that ALL fuel, whether from a gas station pump or from my transfer tank, goes through tmy primary, factory tank so whatever filtration I want/need MUST go between the factory tank and the lift pump.
TIA
--HC
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Lift pump is around $150.00 in US.
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I just bought one from my dealership (Dodge dealership) on Friday in north central Texas and the cost was 246 plux tax which brought it to just under 280 dollars. Is there somewhere else I should have gone to buy the lift pump?
--HC
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Anywhere other than your dealer.
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That's not precisely helpful. I was under the impression that it was a dealer item only. I'll contact some auto parts stores to see for sure; wouldn't be the first time I was wrong about something.
--HC
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You could have gotten it from any Cummins distributor, or from any of several on-line sources for factory parts - these guys always seem to have the lowest prices:
http://tinyurl.com/6yur7
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Contact your local Cummins dealer instead of the Dodge dealer. They are reasonable priced, and stand behind the service on the engine and parts!
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Hey, Tom, thank you for your post and your information. Thanks, also, to Partsmore for suggesting a Cummins shop.
Tom, I checked the link you listed and it certainly is cheaper; I tried an O'Reilly's earlier today after Roy suggested that "anywhere" besides the dealer would be better and found one, in stock, for around 180.00 before tax (right at 200.00 after tax, so still saving me almost 100.00 over my dealer-bought pump). I bought it and I'll be returing the dealer part, but I'm in enough of a rush to get the truck running that purchasing the one from the site you list, while saving me 50 bucks or so, isn't going to be feasible. But I did add it to my links list and I will be checking them out for future purchases, so thank you very much for that. Have you actually bought stuff from them? Have you ever had to deal with their customer service? Complaints or kudos?
Thank you again.
--HC
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I've bought from Tenafly on numerous occasions. The only thing I'll say is it helps to not be in a hurry for the parts... sometimes they don't get the orders out for a few days (often because they have to order it themselves from a regional warehouse). Don't go there if you need something overnight, but definately do go there if you want the best price.
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Okay, good deal. I'll keep them on the Favorites list then. I didn't have any luck on their list of parts finding the "fuel tank module" but I'll talk to my local Dodge dealership tomorrow and get the part number and then hit Tenafly's site and see if the savings is worth the wait (I miss my truck). :)
Thanks again.
--HC
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Just an update:
I have not yet been able to find check on the replacement cost of a module (it's the weekend), but I have come to some conclusions of what to do about the lift pump and the filtration of the fuel before it gets to the lift pump. I couldn't look at the factory item because it was in a sealed box and they told me I couldn't return it if it was opened but I did find one at a local O'Reilly's and it was not only less expensive but wasn't in a sealed box so I took a few seconds to look at it; it looks like nothing fancy at all and that it might have standard 1/4 NPT thread inlet and outlet openings. If that's the case then 1) I could easily buy any aftermarket fuel pump and just install the correct fittings from the factory pump on it (providing that the factory wiring harness provides a standard 12v to that connection to drive the pump) and then "Southern Engineer" the wiring to the aftermarket pump and hodge-podge a way to mount it in place and presto, I should be in business.
If I can find a way to put cheap pumps (whether 150.00 dollar pumps, as I've seen on a site relayed to me in response to my original post, or some marketer of general automotive supplies) then I will no longer have to sweat the filtration of the fuel. My reasons are that if I can just dump that pump for a new one every so often then to heck with trying to cut into the factory lines and find a spot that will accomodate a filter and also avoid the problems/questions of adequate filtration on a suction-operated system (the filter before the pump so there's nothing but suction (atmospheric pressure) pushing the fuel through the filter. That seems like a good solution when combined with the following two key items:
1) I will put a kick-ass filter on both of my transfer tanks to prevent contaminents from getting into the primary/factory fuel tank and 2) I will install a manual gauge in the cab of my truck that will indicate to me the pressure being supplied to the injector pump; so, if the lift pump, whatever shape, form, make, model, etc. that it happens to be, ever starts to eat itself, or if the fuel filter (the one in the big housing just before the injector pump) ever starts to clog up, or for whatever reason the system ever starts to provide low pressure to the injector pump I'll know it.
The biggest problem I think I face now is the uncertainty of the condition of the injector pump; it may have been starved for fuel long enough (over the 5,000 miles I've noticed this problem (starting occasionally and getting worse and more frequent)) that it may have been damaged; not enough to fail, but enough to not be operating at 100%. I'll never know, when it finally dies (I plan on putting over 400,000 miles on the truck) if it was because it was "just its natural time" or if it was because I blew it by not properly filtering my diesel from transfer tanks into the primary/factory tank.
Since the lift pump seems to use standard NPT fittings (not sure of that yet, but it looks like it) it should be no big deal to install a manual pressure gauge on the system and run that in the cab; perhaps a regular 0-60 or 0-80 PSI fuel pressure gauge (I'll know better after reading the shop manual about the operating pressures put out by the lift pump and by observation once I have the new lift pump in place and a guage installed. That way I should be able to avoid having to replace a 1400.00 to 2000.00 (depending on who you get your price quoted from) dollar injector pump.
Whee, isn't this fun?
Thanks for everybody's help.
--HC
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Many people are running the Holley Blue pump, available through Summit Racing (http://www.summitracing.com ), as well as just about any auto parts store in the country (it's a Holley, after all...). Look through http://www.dieseltruckresource.com , in the 2nd Gen. forums. Replacing the factory lift pump with an aftermarket is one of the most popular topics discussed (due to the weak-as-hell factory-style lift pump).

Yep - that was one of the first thoughts I had, as well. Like you said, though, not a whole lot you can do about it now. You are looking at around $2,000 for a replacement pump, plus the labor of installing it (not a simple swap-out either - the front cover has to come off, and it needs to be timed correctly, lest you screw up your injection timing).

You'll never see pressures that high... stock pressure are less than 15psi - and even aftermarket pumps don't usually run beyond 20psi or so. Fuel pressure gauges can be had in the 0-30 or 0-35psi range - these will be fine. I'd go with an electric gauge, so you don't have to deal with a fuel isolator, or run a fuel line into the cab. The electric gauges allow you to keep the pressure sensor in the engine compartment.
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Tom, thank you for your reply as well as your particular quotes of resources. The warm fuzzy feeling running through me is my hope returning (or I missed another bathroom break). <GRIN> Seriously, though, I'm starting to feel a renewed sense of hope, I was really sweating the pump issue; I love that truck, as cliche or pathetic as it may sound, and I don't want it to fail on me. I'm going to check out the Holley pump (just did, and at around 100.00 bucks from summitracing.com it's certainly a "keep one on hand, replace as necessary" item). I'll read the Diesel resource in the AM (it's coming up on 1 AM and I have a busy day tomorrow).
Thank you again for your time and help; it really is appreciated. I'll let you know how things progress.
--HC
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Status update: I put the tank module back together figuring that the bit of mesh I tore up back there isn't gonna kill anybody, besides, it's the top piece of mesh not the bottom so I'm still getting some of the filtering effects. Plus, there is a large mesh past that that will get any big chunks of junk and I'll just be careful with what I put in the tank. Thank God I was able to re-assemble the unit 'cause stabbing that inner tube/fitting was a bear (I had to use a bent welding rod to push the metal retainer clip/cap/ring back into place. I put the tank in two nights ago and then changed the lift pump.
Changing that lift pump is a complete CAKE WALK. I removed the two hose clamps and two bolts necessary to remove the fuel filter housing and got it out of the way and then getting to the lift pump is child's play; two banjo-bolts, three nuts, BAM, Removed Fuel Lift Pump. :)
I installed the new pump, re-placed the filter housing and reconnected everything. I removed the valve core from the pressure test port on the low side of the injector pump to allow the system to purge air and dumped some diesel in the tank. In retrospect I should probably not have removed but rather just unscrew it enough that it would allow air to pass by. The purge process is pretty easy; bump the starter (don't let it start; if it would, that is) and it'll run the pump for 25 seconds (that's what they tell me, I didn't time it, but it's a pretty good amount of time). It'll throw the check engine light but that'll clear itself when you're done. The first cycle got it to spitting diesel so I did it one more time to go put the valve core back in; that's where I think I should have just left it in but loose; stabbing that sucker with it spewing diesel (splash AND slippery) is a bear. Once I had it tightened down I did it one more time (run the pump) and used the valve core tool to just press the center tit in and make sure I had all the air out.
The truck started in about 10 seconds of cranking and has run ever since then. I tested the pressure and it shows to be about 13 PSI. I have ordered an Auto Meter fuel pressure gauge from Summit Racing (trying to not go back to 4 Wheel Parts after the salesman, I'm convinced, lied to me; plus their prices were higher on these items than Summit Racing, and Summit had the items I wanted in stock) that is supposed to go from 0 - 30 PSI. That's odd because the Auto Meter website only shows a 0 - 15 and a 0 - 100 PSI gauge in the Z - Series (black on black, red needle, white lettering) gauges; I asked the Summit guy about that and he said it's in the current catalog; we'll see, maybe he lies, too. :) But, for reference it's the ATM-2660 gauge. I wanted the 0-30 instead of the 0-15 because, while I should never see over 15 PSI, if I install an aftermarket pump later in life and it puts out a bit over 15 then I'm SOL on the gauge. Besides, I'd like the gauge to read in the middle somewhere instead of at it's extremes.
So, everything seemed to be working well but I noticed a couple of dead spots in my acceleration after I had completed the work, even though the truck had been running for a while (30 minutes) so I'm parking it until I get that fuel gauge (and the pyrometer, boost, oil pressure, diff temp, and trans temp) installed. Go big or stay home, I always say. Mostly, of course, I'm just concerned with the fuel pressure and the boost, but as long as I'm wiring something up...
I inspected the guts of the pump and they look FINE. :( I expected to find damage of some kind or another but found none (the vanes moved freely, everything looked shiny and smooth, no obvious pitting of any kind). So, I must assume that the problem was with the electric motor on the pump.
Anyway, that's the current status; we'll see what happens when I have it on a gauge and start driving it again. Here's hoping and praying I didn't eat that injector pump. :-/
Hope some of this stuff'll help somebody.
--HC
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Update: The gauges from Summit arrived Friday and the fue pressure gauge was the correct style (Z Series, black on black (ring/background-face of gauge), white letters, reddish/orange needle) and was 0-30 PSI so I'm not sure why the manufacturer and 4 Wheel Parts didn't list it.
I installed the fuel pressure sender on the test port on the injector pump. I had to buy a flare-nut and a 1/8th NPT 90 degree elbow (both in brass) and braze them together to make an adapter for the fuel pressure sender. I didn't want to cut any of the fuel lines and put in a T, and since there was as port on the injector pump that seemed like the way to go. So far, after a short test drive at midnight last night the adapter I made doesn't seem to be leaking. I'll carry the valve core (that I had to remove of course) and the cap and a valve tool with me so if I get on the side of the road somewhere with a leaky fitting I can remove it and put the factory stuff in to get me home.
Interesting note (at least for me not ever having had a diesel with a boost gauge on it before, at idle the boost gauge shows zero pressure and the port in the intake that I put the fitting in neither blew nor sucked air when I removed the tube to see what the problem might be (I thought the gauge wasn't working or that the tube was kinked or something). The gauge seemed to run fine on the test run, showing around 20+ PSI at WOT, or WFO, whichever you prefer. :)
I installed a trans temp gauge "because I could" and I put the sender in the PTO cover plate on the driver's side. I built up a little cage around it using some 5/16" cold rolled metal rod and it looks slick (well, I think). This is an IMPORTANT lesson, if you drain the trans fluid (on the manual transmission, specifically a NV 4500) catch it in a CLEAN container. I didn't, and at 91k I figured it wouldn't hurt to replace it. I was WRONG. The fluid was factory perfect but I didn't know it until it was already draining into a crappy pan. That stuff is 15+ dollars a quart from the dealer so there went about 80 bucks on fluid (I bought 5 quarts to be sure I'd have enough, dry fill on it is 4 quarts, and my re-fill took a little over 3.5 quarts). It's synthetic and they put stickers on each PTO cover telling you to use only that and since it seems to be a New Vision sticker, not a Dodge sticker, I think they mean it (I say it's a NV sticker because it lists not only the MOPAR part number for the fluid (some 7xxx4459 or something number) but also a GM number (12346190 is the GM number, it's easier for me to remember it).
I will drive the truck for a while now and see how the fuel pressure holds (17 PSI at idle, around 11 PSI at WOT, but that's only after one test run and I was tired, we'll see how it runs over several trips to be sure).
Oh, and the pyrometer from Auto Meter came with it's own cable to run from the sender to the gauge. DO NOT CUT that wire. :-/ I didn't read the instructions that far (it was the last installation note on the back of the page) and it says to not cut that wire because it'll effect its accuracy. So I had cut it, of course, and I had to splice it back together and just hope and pray that it's right. I may contact Auto Meter for a replacement or see if someone can calibrate the gauge I've got now. <sigh> Live and learn. :)
The oil pressure sender went perfectly into a hole that had a plug on it on top of the oil filter mount.
I have taken pictures of most of this stuff so if anybody wants them, and can tell me where to post them, I'll be happy to do it.
FWIW.
--HC
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Sure - at idle, the turbo is doing little more than pinwheeling around. You're not the first one to think their boost gauge was busted after installing it - only to see it start to move on a test drive :)

New Venture, actually. Yes, they specify Castrol SynTorq, or the dealer equivalent. Yep - expensive stuff.

Oh crap...

Bite the bullet and get a new wire... any splice WILL affect the accuracy of the gauge, because it's EXTREMELY sensitive to any change in resistance - even a fraction of an ohm.
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Thanks for your reply, Tom.
Yes, New Venture sounds right. :)
Roger, wilco. I'll contact Auto Meter and see about getting a replacement wire. <sigh> How come it is that I always have to break something before I understand how it works? :)
Thanks again.
--HC
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Contacted Auto Meter directly and they volunteered to send me a replacement wire, free of charge. :) Bonus! It's nice to find some place that's still into customer service.
--HC
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