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Join Date: Jan 2013
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2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/18/2013 4:42 PM

2002 Chevy Cavalier 2.2L engine. Every now and then the car will not start. Turn the key on, fuel pump does not prime. Sometimes a light tap on the backseat will cause the pump to run. Sometimes I have to tap on the bottom of the tank in order to get it to run. The most effective method I have discovered, is to remove the back seat and tap the center hump under the seat with a mallet. Usually then the pump will prime and the car will start. This has been going on for the last 2 years or so.

Every once in a while, the car will die while running. Sometimes it will restart right away, sometimes I will need to tap around with the mallet to get it to start. Usually, once I get the car started, it stays running, however.

Every now and then I experience a momentary loss of power, only for a second or two, and suddenly it surges back. I believe this is the fuel pump ceasing to operate momentarily, and then resuming operation on its own.

The fuel pump has been changed 3 times, filter twice. The last time the pump and filter was changed was by a very experienced and reputable mechanic. I have since taken the car back to him twice after that repair (which was 6 months ago), and both times that he has had it (1 week - 2 weeks), the car only misbehaved once, and by the time they rolled it into the shop, it was working fine (he did not charge me anything for the subsequent visits). He checked the fuse box, replaced the pigtail, checked the harness, tested, probed, ripped apart what he could think of.. still no fix. The previous time that he had it, it behaved for 2 months straight, and then suddenly started having frequent issues when the weather got a bit colder (though its done this on cold days, warm days, warm days going cold, cold days going warm, rainy days, etc). He is about as frustrated with it as I am.

I just picked the car up from them yesterday, after they had it for two weeks. Started and ran fine on the way home. This morning, it would not start. Yanked out the back seat, tapped the sheet metal above the tank.. she started and ran fine all the way to work. Same thing coming home, would not start, tapped and it started. Experienced a brief loss of power one time within the first 5 mins of driving, but after that it was fine.

Talking to some folks, they suggested that it might be the neutral safety switch, or possibly the fuel pump collision cutoff switch. Other folks suggest that it may be the ignition switch, that the car might be going into "theft" mode. I have tried tapping on the steering column a couple of times to get the pump running, but that has not yet been effective. Only tapping on or near the fuel tank seems to work. The starter never fails to operate, and I am not sure whether or not any of those switches would interlock the starter as well as the pump.

This is a very frustrating problem, particularly due to the fact that it seems to go dormant every time I take it back to the mechanic. It is my wife's car, and she absolutely refuses to drive it now. Really don't want to buy a different car at this point in time. I am somewhat mechanically inclined (I replaced the pump and filter myself the first 2 times, before giving up and going to the shop), and I am able to do some diagnoses, though I have no garage, and it is cold here in the midwest, so my abilities are limited. Any help / ideas would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks,

-Paul

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#1

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel pump intermittently fails to operate.

01/18/2013 5:06 PM

I'd suggest a 7 iron.

It has a padded grip, and the long shaft allows one to swing with greater velocity.

You might even be able to use it from the front seat.

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#2

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/18/2013 7:47 PM

Maybe the pump itself is not bad but the wires to it? Run a new temporary wire from your battery with a toggle switch to the fuel pump and run it manually for a period of time. If the problem does not happen when you manually run the pump you know you have an electrical problem...

Could have a bad ground... make sure it's got a nice clean ground connection.

If that's the only problem you have with a Cavalier count your lucky stars, and knock on some wood.

Regards,

-R

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/20/2013 10:19 AM

I'm definitely leading towards something in the wiring / switches leading up to the pump. Odd though how tapping above the tank causes it to start, when we replaced the pigtail leading from the pump to the harness connection behind the tank. (Everything in the tank and from the tank is new). Also, the bundle of wires leading to the harness runs across the back seat before going out to the harness connection. So I guess it could either be something loose at the harness connection on the chassis, or a broken wire inside the bundle running across the back seat. Of course, the problem only arises when I need to get somewhere in a certain amount of time, and not when I'm just going for a leisurely drive... so it leaves me less time to troubleshoot instead of just going straight to the "wack the back seat with a mallet" fix.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/20/2013 2:11 PM

having the same issue on an 02 model, and i am at whitts end with it

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#3

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/19/2013 10:54 PM

Good grief! We need to start back charging Chevrolet for Cavalier answers.

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Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/22/2013 12:03 PM

I thought this was the CR4 drinking game and we are supposed to chug a beer each time someone says "Cavalier"!

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#6

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/21/2013 8:35 AM

That pump must've been made by Lucas Electrics.

I had the same issue with a '72 MG Midget fuel pump. That masochistic component required a firm thumping with a wrench every couple of days.

Hooker

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#7

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/21/2013 11:02 AM

Two sticks of dynamite and a new car usually works for most Cavalier issues.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/21/2013 6:42 PM

Think I may have located the loose connection. After my fourth time trying to catch it in a no-start state on Sunday, I finally was able to be in a no-start condition with time to troubleshoot. I kicked the kick panel a couple of times where the fuel pump assembly cable attaches in the front... no start. Crawled underneath and wiggled the harness coming off of the fuel pump assembly. Pump ran and car started. Thinking a couple of zip ties and some dielectric grease may take care of the problem, but I will wait until the temps are back up in the double digits...

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

01/22/2013 8:49 PM

i have the EXACT same problem with wife's 2002 cavalier..put second replacement pump in at 85,000. 1st replacement was at 55,000. after installing 2nd one the pump would not cycle on. the wire harness runs under back seat and goes to a connector attached to back panel...it has a protective plate on inside of body....then goes out of car to the fuel pump wire harness. i put volt meter on the connector from under car side and only had 5 volts and less on the grey wire. we found small 'nick' on grey wire inside car side of connector. pressed it together with fingers and got 12volts. spliced it and pump worked fine.....FOR ABOUT 2 MONTHS. damn. wife calls me stranded at her work. i get there with son to tow home and guess what....of course, it started...you could hear it do its 2 second prime and off we went. got home and retaped it REAL snug and good for a couple more weeks...then same thing, wife can not here pump priming, no start, and when i get there a few hours later, pump primes and starts. then this morning it happens again. wife leaves car at home and i get to car 1.5 hours later and of course no problem. one of the times i grabbed the harness under back seat(which i haven't put back in) and wiggled hard while it was running and could feel it start to hesitate, and i pulled it apart and redid splice and it was good for weeks again. this has happened several times. but I can never get it in a 'no start' condition to test power. So I know that it is my wife...SHE IS A JINX AND IS DOING THIS TO TORTURE ME FOR FORGETTING HER BIRTHDAY!!! i am thinking that it is that connector where it goes out behind the back seat or one of those wires...perhaps the ground is not good. it is a mystery gremlin. i never get a chance to catch it in 'no start'. the connector has a metal cover that has rivets on mine...i drilled out the rivets. i am going to play with it tomorrow. have been looking online for the connector hoping i could get one that has pig tails on both male and female side but no luck so far. i will let you know what happens tomorrow and you keep posting if you find something. between your 'pounding' and my wiggling it seems like bad connection

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

03/20/2013 4:47 PM

Any furthur news on your Cavlier Chittle? I can confirm for certain that it is the connection under that backseat that is my problem (same as yours). After wiggling it and shoving it in furthur, I was running for a while with very few problems (every now and then I would need to coax it). Thought I was gonna be able to get through just fine until warmer weather allowed me to do some more work on it.

Now, seems like every day I'm having to mess with it... took me 30 mins to get it going when I was trying to leave work today. I'm thinking I might drill out the rivets on that plate too, and see if I can't maybe run a couple of wires bypassing the connector for the fuel pump power.. just really sucks since temps are still below freezing and now we got a real nasty wind blowing that chills you to the bone...

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

07/20/2014 3:27 PM

Hi Methaneb I need your help. I have the same car with exactly the same problem where I have to bang on the rear seat or on the fuel tank itself in order for the car to start. Tell me, do you still have the car? What exactly did you do to finally fix the problem? Help please.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: 2002 Cavalier 2.2L. Fuel Pump Intermittently Fails to Operate

07/20/2014 3:40 PM

I confirmed that my problem was in the connector on the passenger side of the car under the back seat by jiggling it one day when the pump would not run, and then turning the key.

Once I confirmed where the problem was, I removed the backseat, and drilled out the 2 rivets holding the fuel pump / fuel tank / abs connector on the passenger side of the pan under the seat. I then drilled a small hole through the floorpan and ran 2 wires for the fuel pump, bypassing the connector going through the floor pan. The heavy grey wire is the positive for the pump, one of the black wires of the same gauge is for the ground. If you are not sure, jiggle each wire one at a time while listening to the fuel pump. I used quicktaps to attach the wires on both side, used nuts and bolts to secure the connector back down to the pan, and used liquid electrical tape to seal the hole I drilled. It may be a good idea to use some kind of sleeve around the wires you run in to protect them from the sharp edges from the drilled hole, to prevent them from shorting to the chassis. Let me know if you need any more direction.

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