7 Symptoms of a Bad Fuel Pressure Regulator

An automobile fuel gauge on empty.

If your fuel pressure regulator is going bad, your car could display several different symptoms. This article lists and explains the most common of these. Get your bad fuel pressure regulator checked if you notice any of the following.

Spark Plugs Blackened

Remove a spark plug and examine the end of it. If it is sooty, it could be a sign of a bad fuel pressure regulator. If you find a plug in this condition, check the rest of them. A sooty spark plug could just mean the engine is burning oil at that cylinder.

If you end up replacing your fuel pressure regulator, you might also want to replace your plugs. They could be fouled out from the bad fuel pressure regulator. You can try simply cleaning them and putting them back, but if your engine still runs poorly, get new ones.

The Engine Doesn't Run Smoothly

Speaking of poor engine performance, if you are idling the engine and it is not running smoothly, change your fuel filter and check your pressure regulator to repair bad fuel pressure. Another sign that your engine is suffering the effects of a bad fuel pressure regulator is if you have trouble starting the car. It will turn over a few times before it actually starts.

The Tail Pipe Emits Black Smoke

Having black smoke coming out of your tail pipe is a sure sign there is something wrong with your fuel pressure regulator. Replace it. The normal color of any smoke coming out of the exhaust should be white or gray, not black, so if you see the latter, there is definitely something wrong.

The Dipstick Smells of Gasoline

Check the oil dipstick and see if you smell fuel on it. If you do, it could be a symptom of a bad fuel pressure regulator, which has allowed gasoline to leak into the oil system.

Gasoline Drips Out of the Tailpipe

Gasoline dripping out of your tailpipe is either the result of your overfilling your tank or a bad fuel pressure regulator.

Engine Stalls

If the engine stalls when you press down on the gas pedal, check the fuel pressure regulator. There shouldn't be any hesitation when you press on the gas. Even if you only notice a little hesitation, get your pressure regulator checked out because it may just be starting to go bad.

Gasoline Is in the Vacuum Hose

If you are noticing any of the signs above, but aren't convinced that the cause is a bad fuel pressure regulator, there is something you can do to be sure one way or the other. Remove the vacuum hose that attaches to the fuel pressure regulator, making sure the engine isn't running. If gas is in the line, your fuel pressure regulator is bad. Also, if there is none in the line, but, when you turn the switch on, fuel drips out of the hose, it is bad.