October 30 2010:
I had one of those rare, very satisfying, fault fixing afternoons and cleared up several problems for just a few pennies.
For background, my car has been suffering from poor starting - often taking 3 or 4 attempts to get it running - plus a lumpy idle once it does start. For some time now it has also been noticeably down on power and experiencing the occasional bout of hesitation and these problems made me think that the Mass Air Flow sensor was playing up (a known problem on these and £150 at dealer prices, a bit cheaper elsewhere).
In addition, it appeared to have fuel starvation problems when below 1/2 tank and I suspected a partially blocked fuel filter on the pump. My fuel gauge has also been erratic ever since I bought the car (and before according to the previous owner) but the £300 price of a new combined pump/sender unit was a bit of a turn off.
So today I decided to clean the fuel pump filter and see if that improved matters - after all, it would be a free "fix".
Access via the boot is easy enough - lift out the boot carpet and undo 4 bolt-head screws holding down the access cover. The electrical plug and fuel line come away easily enough and both are just push fit. Getting the pump out was a bit more tricky as it's held down by a big plastic screw ring that did not want to budge and then broke when I tapped it. Luckily I was able to repair the ring by using super glue to join the edges and make up a giant jubilee clip from three smaller ones to wrap around it (sorry, I forgot to take photos).
The pump is spring loaded and pops up and then has to be rotated 90 degrees to pull it out but be careful - it is full of petrol when it comes out! Once it was out I could see the problem immediately - the piece of rubber fuel hose between the main body of the pump and the outlet above it had de-laminated and split. This split would allow a good proportion of the pressurised fuel top escape back into the tank, rather than heading towards the engine. At that point I realised that this could well explain the poor starting and loss of power - the picture below shows the hose (yellow arrow). The hose is just held in with two jubilee clips and to get to the bottom one you have to release the fuel level sender (blue arrows) and three clips holding pump bottom into plastic swirl pot in which it sits.
This picture (sorry - out of focus) shows the split in the hose and you can also see that most of the outer layer of the hose has come away and was sitting in the swirl pot.
The contacts on the sender were corroded and pitted so after removing the float (it just unclips and slides off) and pushing out the pivot pin I cleaned them up with a soft wire brush. As the Haynes manuals say, "reassembly was reverse of the disassembly process".
The perished hose was replaced by a piece supplied by my local car spares shop for the equivalent of £2.50 including the new jubilee clips. The outer diameter of the hose is greater but the inner is the same and there is plenty of space to accommodate the extra bulk. These pictures show it all back together.
Refitting was straightforward and only took a couple of minutes. The end result is that the car now starts on the first turn of the key, the fuel gauge appears to read correctly and I've got the power back! It is certainly smoother and quicker to drive which is no surprise given the fact that it will have been starved of fuel even at the best of times. I'll need to monitor the fuel gauge for a while but the current reading matches what I expect to see. Instead of paying £250-300 for a pump, £100+ for MAF sensor and the ridiculous cost of shipping them out here I have got away with £2.50 and a couple of hours of my (free) labour. I also have the great satisfaction of having done it myself.
Next job - coil springs and that is unlikely to be so cheap.