There are a few common signs that a fuel pump is starting to fail, including the engine sputtering at high speed. This is the most common early sign that there is a problem, and it generally occurs after driving for several miles without incident.
Another common symptom of a faulty fuel pump is when the vehicle begins to lose power while accelerating. Though similar to the sputtering that also occurs, in this case, the vehicle experiences the loss of power when accelerating from a stop. In most cases, the vehicle moves normally, but jerks and makes noise for a minute. After jerking, it goes back to running normally.
Another sign that the fuel pump may need replacement is when the vehicle loses power when under a lot of stress. When moving forward, for instance, a lot of stress is put onto a car, especially when climbing a hill or hauling a load. If the vehicle has difficulty with acceleration when doing these things, the fuel pump may be the issue.
On the other hand, a sudden surge of power may also indicate that the fuel pump is malfunctioning. Some people believe that the fuel filter is responsible for this behavior, but it is actually due to irregular resistance in the motor of the fuel pump.