By on December 19, 2011

TTAC commentator/writer David Holzman writes:

 Sajeev,

My ’99 Accord 5speed with 200k on the clock needs a new gas tank. The fuel pump is inside the gas tank. Should I get a new fuel pump with that gas tank? Changing the tank will cost about $600; including a fuel pump will add $300. I’m planning to keep this car another year and a half to two years, at which point it will have about 230k.

(I will replace it with whatever version of the Toyota FT86 reaches our shores provided the car does well repair-wise in its first year, and provided I like it as much as Bertel’s review suggested I would.)

PS: can you get this one up ASAP? I need to get the tank before I go on a road trip Dec. 24.

Sajeev Answers:

$300 for a fuel pump?  Please check the prices on Rockauto.com and verify your shop isn’t marking up their parts costs.

That said, I don’t know if the pump needs to be replaced, there’s a good chance it will last 2 years. Even if it fails, you don’t need to drop the tank to install a new one. Tough call.  A fuel pump should be more like $100-150 and labor should be nearly nothing considering the tank is dropped.

David replies:

Sajeev,

I suspect the $300 was for an OEM fuel pump. On Rockauto, they start at around $30, and a number of them are 100 and change. I guess one thing that makes me nervous is the thought of switching from my original to a non-OEM. I mean, it wouldn’t completely surprise me if the original went for a few more years and a non-OEM quit after a few years.

Sajeev Concludes:

I suspect that $300 was for the complete fuel pump assembly.  Wait no, I never suspect that. As a tireless cynic when it comes to random mechanics giving quotes to my readers, I always go for the worst.  That said, Rockauto sells the Denso fuel pump (OE part) for $118.00…and Denso stuff ain’t no joke, this is what you need.

Would a nameless, faceless shop charge over 200% markup for the same part you can buy online?  Perhaps. It wouldn’t be the first time, son! Wrap up: there’s no wrong answer, replace or no.  The only problem is the cost of said part.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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37 Comments on “Piston Slap: Denso’d into Needless Markup?...”


  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    When I visited the Datsun parts counter to obtain a timing chain wedge to aid in a pending head gasket replacement on an early 70s L16 engine, the price I was quoted was some outrageous figure in the triple digits. This was in early ’80, for what was essentially a few inches of ABS plastic wedge connected to a wooden handle by a foot of nylon rope.

    I returned home, headed into my father’s workshop, grabbed a piece of 1″ thick plywood scrap, and proceeded to cut, plane and sand it into a reasonable approximation of the official tool. It lasted through a dozen cam, gasket and head swaps (L20 heads on L16/18 blocks was a popular way to crank your C:R on the cheap) and looked like it could handle another couple hundred jobs when I left the field of Datsun L-series engine building and headed over to Chryco’s 2.2 camp.

    Considering the crap that was pulled on outer islanders in the 70s and 80s – and catching unscrupulous parts counter guys removing the racer’s net price sheet from the MOPAR catalogs in the late 80s-early 90s, I would not be surprised to see some serious net price multiplication going on.

    • 0 avatar

      My mechanic friend, who has an Accord of similar vintage, tells me the leak is probably not the tank, which is composite, but one of the lines going into the top of the tank.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Check the rubber hoses between the filler neck and the tank. My ’92 Sentra would dump gas every time I filled it up, but would be dry as a bone once I got home. Turns out the connector hose for the return vent line had split.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        That would be good if it was the hose, which should make it far easier to address the leak as opposed to dropping the entire tank assembly. And I can see it being a good opportunity to overbuild a repair with some high quality hoses for the feed and return lines; even the high-zoot race engine stuff tends to be cheap in comparison to the actual AN fittings commonly used on them.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Depends on how hard it is to change the pump. If it’s just pull the seat, unbolt, and replace, then I wouldn’t bother with a new one. If it’s a chore to get to or pull out, then you might as well do it while you have the tank out.

    Also, make sure you get a day or 3 on the new/used tank/pump before you head out.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Agree with this. Have a discussion with the mechanic about how much labor you save by changing the fuel pump as well. Check Honda boards to see what the odds are of the fuel pump failing in the next two years.

      If this discussion makes it look cost effective to change the pump now, ask if you can either bring your own parts (not likely) or if there are cheaper aftermarket alternatives.

      From what others have said and the short term plans for the car, I would keep the costs down as much as possible and make sure your AAA card has a sufficient towing allowance. It doesn’t sound like there are huge labor costs at stake here (only $140 based on grzydj’s parts prices), so you can gamble on the original fuel pump for two years.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Aftermarket fuel pumps are a bit sketchy at best. I’d get a Denso if at all possible. Most OEM replacement parts for fuel pumps are sold as a module and include a new level sensor and sending unit.

    Retail price on a genuine Honda fuel pump part number 17040-S84-A02 really is $300.00. That’s for a 4 cylinder with a 5 speed manual, and I’m guessing that’s what the person is asking for since he or she didn’t say which engine the car had. (I couldn’t find a V6 and a 5 speed manual combo)

    The tank itself, part number 17500-S84-A00 retails for $439.35.

    If you’re replacing the tank due to rust from salty roads, now is a good time to check the filler neck as well. If the main filler neck is metal and sits behind a plastic guard, then chances are likely that it might be seeing some sunshine too.

    Also a good time to replace your fuel filter and check the evap lines and charcoal canister as well.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I’ve had to swap out or replace gas tanks on a few of my vehicles over the years. One was on my Olds when we were in Europe and the tank had rusted through in just two short years. Being overseas I had to order a brand new tank through the BX system. It was a breeze to change and I used the same float assembly.

    Every other time I either went to a local junk yard and bought a used gas tank or, in the case of my ’67 Ford, I drained and dropped the tank and re-soldered the joint to make it quit leaking.

    The only precaution I took after draining that gas tank was to fill the tank with CO2 gas from a fire extinguisher and I used a 1000-watt soldering iron instead of a torch.

    The fuel pump and float assembly on most cars is just an insert held in place by one or two screws, and comes right out. But you won’t know until you drop the tank and check it out for yourself.

    It’s easy to do unless you are a total klutz. It isn’t worth putting $900 into a car that’s worth less than that already.

    Another option is to epoxy the leak to make the tank last a little longer, but, depending on where the leak is, that may still involve draining and dropping the gas tank.

    In helping a friend repair his ’89 Accord after a collision we re-used the old pump and float assembly but the tank was replaced with one from a junk yard because it was crushed on the opposite side.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    For starters, I’d just replace the tank if you intend to get rid of the car that soon.

    When I replaced the fuel pump on my 01 Elantra this summer, I discovered unhappily that while the aftermarket version was a perfect fit, its fuel gauge sender didn’t work with my electrical system (it read zero). So after all that work (rear sear removal, pump flange removal, hoses, risk, etc.), I had to do the job again and swap out the sender from my old pump and install it onto the new pump.

    I think I got mine from partsgeek.com – another good source of parts.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    What chaps me is how often mechanics will charge OEM retail, but then use the crappy aftermarket parts anyway.

    I say if the pump is working, don’t bother to change it and roll the dice. I also have 200 mile towing from AAA and a garage full of tools though. :-)

  • avatar
    obbop

    Request local dismantling yard to check their stock for a rust-free tank; either yanked and stored for future sale or on a present car not disassembled yet.

    With luck, a car driven from a non-rust area arrived and an engine or tranny “blew” or a wreck or whatever. It happens.

    A cooperative yard (not lazy) can do a search or send an inquiry requesting a rust-free tank and look only at offers from AZ, CA etc yards.

    Light weight means cheap shipping but times may have changed and perhaps more restrictive rules etc. prohibits shipping fuel tanks.

    We flushed our tanks multiple times as well as thorough draining of fuel and allowing them to sit with drain plug and vent open.

    We did sell fuel pumps but did not guarantee them; advising folks to buy a new one for in-tank types.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I’m curious how your tank ended up failing, was it a puncture?
    I would do a new pump just because you’re in there already. But I would not allow 300 dollars. I don’t know if you can bring your own pump to him that you bought for half that much, most mechanic scoff at the notion of bringing your own parts. Tell him that you get the benefit of the parts warranty that way and it doesn’t fall to him.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    $600 gas tank? I got a replacement tank (20 gals) for the 67 Camaro I’m restoring for a hundred bucks…..

  • avatar
    jfbramfeld

    Ok, even though this doesn’t apply to the gas tank, I have to share this story. Years ago I had a Ford Escort wagon. It actually started out a Mercury Tracer, but the front end was fixed so often I bought a six pack of Escort front ends. At least I wish I did. At any rate, being a good car for teenagers, one of the boy’s friends broke the fixed rear side window. I never go to dealers, but the window specialist told me a new window would be $2,000 not counting labor. So I called the dealer; $2,300. I told him I would sell him the other side window for $1,000 and throw the car in too.

    I eventually found the window in a junkyard for $75 and put it in myself. At 140,000 miles I sold it to a musicial who hauled his band equipment around in it. I think he still has it.

  • avatar
    cammark

    Tank removal on all ’98 and newer accords is a very involved job. The tank is surrounded by the rear sub-frame. More accurately the tank is cradled in and bolted to the sub-frame, along with all of the suspension as a sub-assembly that is then bolted to the underside of the vehicle.

    The fuel pump on the other hand can be removed through the access panel in the floor of the trunk without removing the tank. no more involved, in my opinion than changing out a flat tire with the spare.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      ……cammark…..if you’re right, and I don’t doubt you are, it’s a no-brainer to replace the tank only. But before he does, he should take the advice of Holzman and others, and have a careful diagnosis done as to the source of the leak. Experienced mechanics roll their eyes when customers demand parts be replaced without explaining the symptom, or asking for a professional diagnosis.

  • avatar
    dvdlgh

    Check “car-part.com”. Linked to salvage yards across the country. Here in central WI a tank and pump can be had for around $100.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    This mechanic sounds shady on a number of levels, I’d be willing to bet money it’s not even the gas tank that’s leaking. My advice is take it elsewhere.

    On a car like this that’s simply not worth much money, I’d look at other options before plunking down $600 just to replace the gas tank. Either see if it it a hose or fuel line that’s leaking (more likely) or if it can be patched, or finally, grab a salvage one at a yard and have a shop install.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I would spend the money for peace of mind and keep the old parts if I could. I would also make absolutely sure the tank needs replacing. Gas tanks from about the late 80′s onwards are pressurised. The fuel return hose connection, for instance, could be loose.
    Something else to, Ethanol (usually 10% in gas, unfortunately) is corrosive to some materials and could be responsible for eating fuel lines or gaskets.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    How long does a fuel pump last? I only changed one ever, in a K car. It failed at 190K miles. Of course the cynics will say a Honda pump is much better and will last longer. Well, the old Mopar had a Bosch pump in it. Is that worse than a Nippondenso? I really don’t know. Anyway, what is breakdown prevention worth? If you value saving a few bucks over a potential breakdown, well keep the cash. However, your pump will likely fail under a maximum stress condition, which means “not in your driveway”… More likely in the rain at night just after you filled the tank on the way to a destination that you should not be late for…Do yourself a favor and change it now. That old Accord probably served you very well. Do it (and you) a favor and give it half a chance to not break down on you…Lastly, if you were going to keep it for a long time, I’d go OEM for this kind of application. Selling in a few years? There is nothing wrong with PREMIUM aftermarket parts. Parts that were problematic from the factory (like Mopar and Honda head gaskets) often provide a case for buying aftermarket. They are not concerned with saving a couple of bucks on the part and often engineer in fixes to fix defects that were inherent in the OEM design…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      “… More likely in the rain at night just after you filled the tank on the way to a destination that you should not be late for…”

      You forgot to include “worst part of town, during a riot and a concurrent diabetic attack…”

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I know its hard to even think your mechanic is full of shit but…i`d slow down on the ‘new gas tank thing’ RIGHT NOW!!!!
    In my 45+ years and god knows how many cars I have never,never,never had to replace a gas tank!and a 1999 isn’t even that old.something smells here..and its not gas.Have him show you where the tank is bad..was it involved in a accident or did one of his ham fisted 19 year old high school drop outs bust it…just a thought….

  • avatar
    RogueInLA

    How long will a fuel pump last is kind of like asking how high is up. I’ve seen cars with 200K+ running their original pumps, and had cars come in with pumps fail with less than 50K (not Japanese cars tho). I’ve had very few hondas come in with bad fuel pumps, so if the car is running ok, I’d leave it. (Following is based on the assumption you’re handy with tools and work on your own car). It’s easy to change in the future if you should need to. I’d get one from a boneyard and keep it in a box in the trunk with the tools needed to change it. Doesn’t matter if the tank is full or not, as it comes out the top. I’ve put used pumps from Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas, etc, (if that’s what the buyer wanted) and never had one come back. Of course it depends on what the boneyard wants. Some local pick and pulls here in L.A. want almost $70 for a used pump, some less than $30. Personally I’ve had good luck with pumps from Autozone, and if they fail, they’ll usually replace them, and they’re all over if you’re traveling. Having said that, unless you get a rare ‘lemon’ of a used pump, anything you get will probably outlive the car.

    On the other hand, if you don’t like working on your car, and the money isn’t really an issue, spring for the new one, there shouldn’t be any additional labor charges, as they have to remove the pump anyway before pulling the tank, and you shouldn’t ever have to worry about it again.

    I’ll assume your wrenching level is higher than one gentleman I met driving a new Cadillac in the 70s, I saw him at a gas station and mentioned that his headlight was out (had a rock chip in it), he looked at it and asked me “can that be fixed?” I said sure, just get a screwdriver and remove the cover trim, and the cover and… he stopped me and asked “What’s a screwdriver?” I told him to just take it to the dealer. In hindsight I should have told him “Nope, can’t fix it, car is scrap, I’ll give your $100 for it” or, as a friend said, I should have told him I’d fix it for $100, and run down to the parts store and got a new headlight. Oh well

  • avatar

    Rose,

    supagard

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Only time I had to replace a gas tank was when my ’92 SHO was about 8 years old. The fuel pump started whining and eventually failed. Apparently the tank had some sort of plastic or paint or something like that lining, which started coming off in little bits. The little bits eventually jammed up the fuel pump and that was the story — new tank and new fuel pump required.

    If you live more deeply in the rust belt than I do, I suppose its possible that your tank has rusted from the outside . . . but I would definitely want to identify the source of the leak as being the tank before I invested that kind of money in a replacement.

    • 0 avatar
      Diesel Fuel Only

      My dad’s Taurus wagon – first year they came out – had its tank spring a nasty leak while parked in front of his office a few years after he bought the car.

      He buys cheap gas, and someone told him that the tank was fiberglass or some kind of plastic and that gas he was getting had ethanol in it and that said ethanol had eaten up the tank.

  • avatar
    afuller

    Sajeev,

    You have no understanding of how markup is calculated and evidently what is needed to stay in business.

    When I was in the parts business many years ago it was understood that you needed to operate on a 40% markup in order to keep everyone paid and the lights on.

    40% markup is calculated by multiplying your cost by 1.667; so in your fuel pump example if I purchased the pump for $118 then I would need to sell it for $196.70.

    You might call it gouging, but this is what it takes to keep the lights on.

  • avatar
    jweller

    FWIW – I have a 99 i4 5spd as well. It’s got 260k on the original pump. since you can clearly see where the access is, replacing the pump in it is not really a lot of labor later on down the line. I could do it in a hour or so. I say just roll with the stock pump until it has to be replaced.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    @afuller: I don’t see anything wrong with your retail markup. What’s wrong is the outrageous Honda price on the tank to start with.

    Rockauto has a tank for a similar year Chevy for 79 bucks.


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