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How to Know When Your Air Pump Is Bad on Your Car

by Kimberly Turtenwald

The air pump operates for a short period of time upon starting your vehicle to introduce air into your vehicle's emissions. While a bad air pump may not have a negative impact on the overall performance of your vehicle, it does have a negative effect on the emissions your vehicle produces. Poor emissions results in more air pollution. To help reduce the amount of pollution your vehicle produces, it is important to know and recognize the signs of a bad air pump.

1

Monitor your vehicle for any indication of hesitation when you accelerate. This can sometimes indicate an issue with the air pump.

2

Listen for any unusual sounds, especially from underneath your car near the exhaust pipe. A bad air pump can make a howling noise. In addition, pay attention when you start the car up. You should hear a faint vacuum-cleaner sound for about 30 seconds as your air pump operates. The lack of this noise can indicate that the pump is not working.

3

Watch for your check engine light. In vehicles equipped with OBD-II, the check engine light is an indicator of one of multiple problems with your car that may have nothing to do with your engine.

4

Plug in an OBD-II decoder to check the error code for the check engine light. The outlet for this decoder should be located under the dashboard near the steering wheel or behind an ash tray. It should be easily accessible.

5

Read the code from the decoder. The code P0410 indicates that the problem is with your air pump.

6

Drive your vehicle to the nearest emissions testing location to have your vehicle's emissions checked. If your vehicle tests for a high level of carbon monoxide, the air pump is not doing its job properly and must be repaired.

Tip

  • All cars model years 2008 and over contain OBD-II connectors. Some cars dating back to 1994 also have these connectors.

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About the Author

Kimberly Turtenwald began writing professionally in 2000. She has written content for various websites, including Lights 2 You, Online Consultation, Corpus Personal Injury and more. Turtenwald studied editing and publishing at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

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