How to Install a Fuel Pump in a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban

If you are looking for tips on how to install a fuel pump in your 2003 Chevrolet Suburban (and yes they are electric and located inside the fuel tank), you have come to the right place!

While replacing the electric fuel pump in my son’s Suburban, I uncovered a couple secrets that I am sure will save you at least an hour…maybe a lot more in your installation time.

Believe it or not, it’s really not a difficult project to replace this pump; and you don’t need any special tools or training.

Sit back and relax while you enjoy my video! It’s only 12:00 in length…
Click on the big arrow in the center of the screen.

And now for some REALLY GOOD NEWS…you can purchase your replacement fuel pump, like I did, online at Auto Parts Warehouse. It’s super simple, quick, and actually kind of fun. And due to a special arrangement that I made with the fine folks at Auto Parts Warehouse, for anybody on the internet – you might get your shipping for FREE.Click on this banner and see if you qualify for FREE Shipping…Auto Parts Warehouse up to 75% Off

39 Comments

  1. 6-29-2012

    Rich, I just saw your video on YouTube on how to replace fuel pump on 2003, nice job! I have a 2007 Suburban and have been told by chevy dealer that it needs fuel pump and cost $1,600 for parts and labor and of course our car is under 100,000 but is older than 5 years.

    We are in a financial situation and have to save wherever we can and I am some what mechanically inclined, I worked on aircraft over 20 years but I was wondering if the 2007 is as simple as the 2003 Suburban you used?

    Thank you,

    Dennis in Arizona

    • 7-27-2012

      Hi Rich, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and knowledge trying to help others to save some money when mechanical problems come to us.

      Well, I just saw you video in “How to Replace the Fuel Pump in a 2003 Chevrolet Suburban” and I would like to ask you something. One of my cousins has a 2001 Suburban and just few days ago his gas gauge stopped working. Reading from other comments on different websites, I learned that the problem could be fixed replacing the fuel sending unit.

      If that is the problem, could you please tell me if that unit is attached to the fuel pump (meaning he has to take the fuel tank down) or is a different way -like the one I read- about getting access to that unit through a panel found on the floor of the car, removing the back seat?

      We really appreciate you help and any comments about it. Thank you so much for your valuable assistance.

      Javier in Florida

  2. 9-21-2012

    Rich, I watched your video on how to replace the fuel pump in a 2003 Suburban, and LOVED it!

    I have a 2008 Suburban with a 5.3L Engine. This weekend, it broke down on the highway – engine died. I got it started but could only run about 30 mph and it wanted to cut out. I made it to a repair shop and they connected a test box to see the error codes. An O2 code came up and a Fuel Pump Relay Assembly (sorry, don’t remember the exact code). We looked in the manual and the fuse area(under the hood by the spare battery area on the drivers side under the hood) and it showed the Fuel Pum Relay on in the manual and on the fuse/relay schematic. Issue is this, there was no fuse or relay in the areas that were on the schematic – both were empy. Do you know where the relay would be located? Now, the car will not start at all and I don’t know if it is this relay (that I cannot find), the fuel pump or something else. Do you know where this relay is or have any suggestions on what to check?
    Thanks,

    • 9-21-2012

      Re: 2008 Chevy Suburban Fuel Pump Rely
      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for checking with me on those issues.

      I am really stumped about why your Fuel Pump Relay isn’t where it’s supposed to be. It should be right there, pretty much smack dab in the center of the fuse box – the box out in the engine compartment. Hmmmmm? By the way, the Fuel Pump relay is one of the larger items in the fuse box, and it is labeled F-PUMP or F-PMP. Perhaps you could swing by a local CarQuest and purchase a new one, and it might help you find the old one to replace?

      A couple things to check…
      Fist of all, you can check to see IF you have fuel pressure in the fuel line going into the fuel rails; or on the fuel rails themselves. In the fuel feed line, there will be a fitting protected by a plastic cap that protects a pressure check-valve, (very similar to a valve-stem valve on your tires)…Turn the key to the on position, allow the fuel pump to pressurize the system, locate that plastic cap and unscrew it, and gently depress the valve stem. You should get gasoline from that valve; if you don’t, the pump is not pressurizing the system. This is a very simple test just to see if you are getting fuel up to the fuel injection system, but it doesn’t help you find the relay.

      Let me know if that helps, if not, I have another direction to go (based on your O2 sensor reading)

      Be safe!
      Rich

    • 9-21-2012

      Re: 2008 Chevy Suburban Fuel Pump Rely
      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for checking with me on those issues.

      I am really stumped about why your Fuel Pump Relay isn’t where it’s supposed to be. It should be right there, pretty much smack dab in the center of the fuse box – the box out in the engine compartment. Hmmmmm? By the way, the Fuel Pump relay is one of the larger items in the fuse box, and it is labeled F-PUMP or F-PMP. Perhaps you could swing by a local CarQuest and purchase a new one, and it might help you find the old one to replace?

      A couple things to check…
      Fist of all, you can check to see IF you have fuel pressure in the fuel line going into the fuel rails; or on the fuel rails themselves. In the fuel feed line, there will be a fitting protected by a plastic cap that protects a pressure check-valve, (very similar to a valve-stem valve on your tires)…Turn the key to the on position, allow the fuel pump to pressurize the system, locate that plastic cap and unscrew it, and gently depress the valve stem. You should get gasoline from that valve; if you don’t, the pump is not pressurizing the system. This is a very simple test just to see if you are getting fuel up to the fuel injection system, but it doesn’t help you find the relay.

      Let me know if that helps, if not, I have another direction to go (based on your O2 sensor reading)

      Be safe!
      Rich

  3. 9-21-2012

    How do you remove the filler hose from the tank to the chassis/body?

    • 9-21-2012

      Hi Kirk,
      The filler hose was a bit tricky, but don’t let it get the best of you. After you remove the hose clamps from both ends of the filler hose, grab hold of the hose and turn back and forth. This will break it loose from the tank and the tube coming down from the filler. Once it turns freely, twist and pull (and it might be tough) on the end going into the tank and the hose should just slip off of the inlet tube. Once you get that end off you are home free. Just pull hard and you will win.
      Best of luck….and BE SAFE!
      Thanks!

  4. 9-21-2012

    Thanks for your quick reply. I don’t think it will be such a big deal to perform the work as you outlined it. However, after discussing my symptoms with the guys at work, I’m not sure if it is a fuel pump problem. When I run the gas level down to 1/4 tank and do not drive the Suburban for a few days, it will not start. I have to add 5 gallons of gas and then it will start. The odd thing though, I recently went on a long trip and ran the tank almost dry (one engine cycle) and pulled up to the gas pump. I open the cap and heard a slight vacuum sound. Went to put gas in the tank and sure enough that pump was broken. I put the cap back on the tank so I could move to another pump, but it would not start. Luckily the hose from the other pump reach and I could fill up. Once full I was able to start the engine. So after a lenghty note, do you feel the problem is with the fuel pump or not?

    • 9-21-2012

      Re: 2002 Suburban Tank Removal / Fuel Pump Replacement
      WOW…that is an odd set of symptoms…BUT there is one fairly common denominator here, and that is low fuel. Those darn electric pumps do seam to fail when they get hot, and when the fuel is low in the tank, the pump tends to heat up (because the gasoline is a coolant for the pump); so that is one possibility.

      You did say that you heard a slight vacuum sound when you took the cap loose so that tells me that the gas cap is probably in good shape (bad gas caps cause problems too). I would hate to tell you to replace the pump if that isn’t the problem, but once again, low fuel is an indicator in your description. Let’s remove all other possibilities…check your gas cap for a good seal, and when was the last time you replaced the fuel filter? Have you checked the fuel pressure at the fuel rails on the engine itself? If you have lower than normal pressure at the engine, you have either a bad pump or plugged filter. After what I have experienced with these damn pumps in the tank (VERY similar to what you described), my gut tells me it’s a pump…but then again your pals at work might be right.
      Keep this in mind, as Sherlock Holmes would say “… when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”

      If it’s not the gas cap, if it’s not the filter, if its not the Fuel Pump Relay (that part might be going bad too, but not likely), and if you don’t have problems when there is plenty of fuel in the tank…there aren’t a lot of other possibilities.

      Once again my gut tells me it’s the pump…but it’s a lot of money to purchase the pump, and a couple hours to R&R it…so eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

      Be safe, and best of luck!
      Rich

  5. 9-21-2012

    Hello Rich, i just viewed your video on how to replace the fuel pump on a 2003 suburban, it was very informative. My question is if the fuel pump is delivering fuel just fine but the gauge won’t read fuel in the tank could it just be the “bobber”? Could that actually fall of the pump itself? Thanks in advance Rich,
    Johnnie Settle

    • 9-21-2012

      Re: Fuel pump replacement video
      Hi Johnnie,
      WOW…that’s a tough question. The reason I say that is because it is a distinct possibility that the float (or as you call it, the “bobber”) can become disconnected; but that would be VERY rare. And (here’s some more bad news) IF the float in the tank isn’t connected to the sensor, you would still need to tear the pump out of the tank just to reconnect the float arm to the sensor. (at that point I would change the pump just because I have out)
      Here are some possibilities…
      1. The float has come loose.
      2. The electrical connection at the pump has come loose.
      3. The electrical connection at the gauge has come loose.
      4. There might be a fuse for your fuel gauge; and if so it might have blown.
      5. The gauge itself has gone bad.
      6. There is a break in the wiring from the pump up to the gauge.
      7. The fuel sensor in the pump has gone bad.
      I would start by checking to see if there is a fuse (your manual will have that info), then check all of the wiring, then the gauge itself, then last and least; the pump.
      Thanks for reaching out!
      Be safe, and let me know what you find!
      Rich

  6. 10-11-2012

    Great video! I’ll watch this one again when I get ready to replace my wife’s 2000 Suburban fuel pump. Seems like it’s pretty much the same setup. Best video on the subject hands down!

  7. 10-12-2012

    Hi Rich! First off, thank you for making this video.

    I have a 2002 Avalanche with 100k and I need to change the fuel pressure sender so I might as well change the whole pump since I don’t think can sneak the sensor in without removing the tank.

    My question is, did you have to remove any EVAP lines that connect to the tank or were you able to leave connected?

    Thanks for any help,

    Frank

  8. 11-19-2012

    I could heard the fuel pump trying to start up, I traded out the relays to make sure it was good, I banged the bottom of the fuel tank with a rubber hammer as my daughter started the vehicle, it started and is still working, maybe the arm float was stuck. If it goes out again I will replace it.

  9. 11-21-2012

    Rich, just finished replacing fuel pump, started at about 11:30, finished 2:30. I would not have been able to do this this easy if not for your video…Awesome Job….

  10. 11-27-2012

    Hey Rich,
    Awsome video. Very helpful. Had an 02 suburban, changed the pump successfully, getting ready to do a 2000 Yukon xl. Thanks for the refresher.

    Donovan

  11. 12-11-2012

    I was just wondering if my 2003 blazer would have the same kind of setup as the suburban? My blazer has been making a whinning noise coming feom pump every time I turn on the key. After 3 months of this the pump has finally went out. Tight budget so hoping its as easy and smooth as your video. Appreciate any response and your time for this video.

    • 12-14-2012

      My educated guess is going to be that you find the similarities to be very close from the Suburban to the Blazer. As a matter of fact, I would be surprised if the fuel systems weren’t exactly the same.

      As always…wear safety glasses and be SUPER SAFE.

  12. 12-14-2012

    I just watched how to replace fuel pump on 2002 Chevy Avalanche, great tips. My issue is I have a tank half full of gas. There seems to be a shyphon block. How can I empty my tank of gas? Thank you.

    • 12-14-2012

      Draining the gasoline out of the tank can be a real pain in the ass; but there is an answer. After you get the vehicle up on jack stands, and you have removed the inlet and vent tubes at the back of the tank, and PRIOR TO REMOVING THE TANK STRAPS, you will have an excellent opening in the tank to siphon the fuel out; it’s actually the spot where the gasoline normally flows into the tank while at the pump…just down stream from the “siphon block.”

      Of course you’re going to need 2 or 3 empty 5-gallon cans to transfer the volume of gasoline into your tank.

      As always…wear safety glasses and be SUPER SAFE.

  13. 3-5-2013

    Do I have to disconnect the battery to install a new fuel pump? My mechanic told me he had to, and not my instrument panel will not work.

    Please advise.
    Thanks

    Nelson

    • 3-5-2013

      Hi Nelson,

      I have replaced 12 electric in-tank fuel pumps over the past few years, and not once did I disconnect the battery. At the VERY worst I would simply pull the Fuel Pump Relay out of the fuse box located in the engine compartment. But believe it or not, I’ve never pulled the relay either…but it wouldn’t hurt anything to do so. While on the other hand, disconnecting the battery causes a ton of issues.

      Keep in mind that I (ME) have made my own decision not to disconnect the battery…other mechanics choose a different path; and wind up with the same results. I’m just sharing that I have never disconnected the battery, and I’ve never had a issue.

      Either way…BE SAFE!!!!
      Peace
      Rich

  14. 3-19-2013

    Is there a safe, easy way to remove all the fuel in the tank before starting?

    • 3-19-2013

      Hi Kevin,

      I am not a fan of transferring fuel from a full tank to any other container; BUT there are times when it has to be done.

      If you find yourself in that situation, you might have to purchase five 5-gallon fuel tanks to hold the fuel while you replace the pump. And while you are at the auto parts store, ask them if they have a gasoline siphon that works? I have one that I really like…it is a six-foot long piece of clear fuel line that I use (I hate to do it, but it works very well). The reason I use a clear line is so I can see the gasoline in the line.

      I wish I could say there was a safe, and easy way to remove the fuel before starting, but there just isn’t one. It will take some creativity, and you will want to make sure that there are no open flames or sparks nearby when you do this step.

      I’m sorry you got stuck in a situation where your pump died shortly after filling your tank! That just flat sucks!

      Be safe!
      Peace
      Rich

  15. 6-24-2013

    I have problem with 2002 suburban, does not have power in grey plug in the fuel pump in to the tank, before i change the fuel pump had power and now dont have power i change the relay and still with out power.if you can sugest something for me i will appreciate….

    • 6-27-2013

      I must admit that I am at a loss on this question! But first please tell me what is, or isn’t, happening now? Is the pump not working??? If that is the case, you might have gotten a bad pump. Believe it or not, I have seen this 4 times over the past few years…a guy goes to all the trouble to replace the pump, and after the tank is back up in the rig and full of gas, come to find out that the new pump is bad. Can you imagine how pissed you would be?

      But if the pump is working, here are a couple thoughts – did you possibly pull on the plug, or the gray wire – hard enough to ruin the connection between the wire and the plug – but not hard enough to completely pull the plug off of the wire? I have seen the plug hanging on the end of the wire, and not actually connected.

      Another thought would be that the fuel pump relay is bad or not seated properly?

      I’m sorry that I can’t be more help here, but you really didn’t give me much to go on.

      Peace
      BE SAFE!!!!
      Rich

  16. 7-1-2013

    On the ’03 when the fuel gauge is erratic it is usually the stepper motor in the dash not the fuel float.

    • 7-2-2013

      I’m not sure what the “stepper motor” is, but I really like the way this guy thinks! I would always look for something wrong under the dash before I swapped out the pump, just to find out that I had a bad contact on the circuit board under the dash.

      Thanks for the comment!!!
      PEACE
      Rich

  17. 7-2-2013

    Hi Rich, great Video, I have a 2005 Tahoe that has had a electrical issue for some time that I have ignored pretty much, wont always show odometer or trip info or tire pressure. Now my Fuel level works intermittently. I am planning to replace the pump before a 1300 mile trip coming up, was wondering if the electrical issue could be related or sending unit might be a culprit? Thnx for your time and knowledge.

    • 7-2-2013

      Hi Baron,

      Thank you for the kind words on my video – I can’t believe that there have been over 61,000 views…WOW!

      When I hear about electrical issues that are intermittent, my first thoughts are “a bad connection somewhere”. One of the first places I would look for evidence of damage, loose or missing parts, would be the circuit board that makes up the instrument cluster. If a contact from a gauge to the board (for example) is poor, many times other electrical elements will work one minute and not the next – because of that poor contact. I would check every contact with the circuit board, and I would also check every contact in my fuse boxes and circuit breaker boxes. But with an “intermittent” electrical problem, it is almost always a connection that is making contact one moment, and NOT making contact the next moment.

      Another area that sees a lot of use and abuse, and where many electrical problems do creep up – is in the ignition switch. A LOT of the vehicle’s electrical information travels through the ignition switch, and I have seen situations where ONE light bulb in the tail light assembly stopped working; and after 3 hours or tracing and testing, discovered the ignition switch in the steering column had gone bad. New switch, problem solved.

      I honestly can’t see how your symptoms could be related to a bad fuel level sender in the tank. Normally those just stop sending info when they go bad; normally.

      Unless you are sure your pump is bad, I’d do some of these other tests that I mentioned above, before I went to all the work of replacing the pump, only to find out you had a loose connection in the dash.

      No matter what you decide to do, decide to do it safely!
      PEACE!
      Rich

  18. 8-8-2013

    Rich. Thanks for the video. It was very helpful. I got the replacement pump in and jacked the tank back up to level to test. I immediately got a quarter tank level reading and then it bounced to empty. Engine cranks but is not getting fuel. I tested voltage on the square grey connecter and got 5 volts on the upper left pin. The bottom two pins both tested out to ground. The top right pin gave no reading. On the flat three pin connecter I got 5 volts on the pin on the right but no reads on the other two. Should I be looking at the relay or the pump at this point? Thanks again for your video.

    • 8-10-2013

      Hi Don,

      At this point in your repair, I certainly would replace the fuel pump relay (because it is the easiest part to try right now), and it’s not incredibly expensive. I’d also advise replacing the fuel filter, as some debris may have found its way into the fuel line and plugged the filter.

      When you turn the key to the “On” position (prior to the “start” position) can you hear the pump whining in the tank? When you turn the key on, you should immediately hear the pump start to pressurize the fuel system…if you hear that whine coming from the direction of the tank, I’d be looking elsewhere – because I would feel confident that the pump is working. IF on the other hand don’t hear a whine coming from the tank, then the pump is not working.

      Its all my pleasure!

      Be safe, and use a lot of caution when working with your fuel and electricity at the same time!

      Peace
      Rich

  19. 9-17-2013

    Hi Rich.

    Thanks for the informative video.

    I need to replace the fuel level sensor on my 2006 Chevy Tahoe and I’m wondering if you can tell me if the tank removal process will be the same as your ’03 Suburban.

    Many thanks,

    Joe.

    • 9-18-2013

      Hi Joe,

      Due to the fact that your 2006 Tahoe, falls in the Suburban/Tahoe model years of 2000-2006; it is my educated guess that the process would be identical. The real difference in the two rigs (Sub vs. Tahoe) is in the length added to the rear of the rig, and I can’t see that they would have made any alterations in the fuel tank during the 2000-2006 model years.

      Before you go to all the trouble of changing your sensor (which by the way IS part of the pump assembly), have you made sure you don’t have a wiring problem or issue with the gauge in the dash?

      Best of luck to you, and remember to BE SAFE!!!

      Rich

      • 9-18-2013

        Thanks Rich.

        That’s a good point. To answer your question, no I did not check the wiring to the dash gauge. I’ve done a lot of research on the particular code I was getting combined with my problem, and the common problem was the fuel level sensor getting worn out. The particular issue is that the gauge will go from reading empty to full to anywhere in between, which leads me to believe a worn sensor is the likely culprit. But your point is well taken, I should start my troubleshooting with the simplest problem and work from there.

        I appreciate you taking the time and offering your insight.

        Joe

  20. 11-10-2013

    hi, our fuel pump went out on our 2002 suburban since we’re a little strap on cash we bought a used one and had it put on it still will not crank and the battery keeps dying not sure what the problem is but if you please help me it will be appreciated.

    • 11-11-2013

      Hi Natasha,
      I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the ONLY reason (well 99.9% of the time) that somebody would take a fuel pump out the fuel tank – is because it is bad and needed to be replace. Sure every once in a while somebody will take the pump out and find that the problem wasn’t the pump, but if the pump has many miles on it – that pump is on its last legs and will need to be replaced sooner than later.

      But let’s look at the a few of the causes that would cause fuel starvation in your 2002 Suburban – bad pump, bad fuel pump breaker, plugged fuel pump, empty fuel tank, plugged fuel injectors, no electricity to run the pump or the injectors, damaged wiring to the pump, damaged fuel lines, and/or a combination of those points. By using the old process of elimination (now that you have replaced the pump – with perhaps a bad pump) I would start with the fuel filter. If the filter isn’t blocked, chances are neither are the injectors (unless you have never run an injector cleaner through your fuel tank?) and even then not all 8 injectors usually plug at the same time. I would then change the fuel pump breaker to see if that makes a difference…if not, I would replace the pump with a new pump.

      Hope that helps!
      Best of luck!
      Rich

  21. 4-29-2014

    Great video man. I just wish i had seen it before i did the job. I have a 2004 Tahoe z71. Was having trouble starting so I starting after it has been sitting for 2 or 3 hours or more. Once it cranked it would start right back up if u killed it. After prob 5 months of this I decided to change the pump. Although the pump always cut on and primed every time. So I bought a cheaper pump offline for around 125$. I installed it and now the pump is not evening priming up. Or at least I can’t hear it and the trick won’t start. I ha e checked fuses. I checked the relay by useing one from another spot that know worked. As far as I know it was the same relay. I am stumped at this point as to what to do.

    • 4-29-2014

      Hi Josh,

      Thanks for the kind words on my video…I am BLOWN away by the number of people that have watched it…and GM says that they “don’t have a problem with those pumps.” Yea right!

      Let’s see…you purchased a pump online for about $125.00…and now you don’t even hear the pump prime the system. You’ve checked the fuse and the relay is from another rig; and it still doesn’t pump? Here are a few thoughts….
      1) Did the new pump get plugged in properly? Unless the plug is seated just right, the connection might be your problem?
      2) If you can’t get to the wires on the new pump, I would replace the relay with a brand new one. You won’t be able to get a refund on it, so plan on getting a new relay an installing it. As for the fuse, new fuses too.
      3) The pump is bad. Believe it or not, you can get a brand new pump these days, and it is garbage. IF you can disconnect the wires to your new pump and plug them into the old pump (IF you can, and IF you still have the old pump) that would tell you if the wiring is okay.
      4) Be sure to connect a trickle charger on your battery to make sure you have enough 12 volt power to run the pump, and with all the starter action you’ve been trying – your battery may be low.

      The only other item I would like to point out is your fuel filter…please replace that too just to make sure you have no restrictions.

      I wish you the best on this mystery!! Be safe!!!
      My best to you!
      Rich

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