September 2015

Q: Hi Steve,

The electric fuel pump in my Piper PA-24-180 started oozing yellow goop out of the place where the electrical lead enters the body of the pump.

I started looking around for one and was told the Piper list price for one of these (Part No. 481 666) is $630.60. Somebody has got to be kidding! This pump looks exactly like a clicker-type electric fuel pump that I can buy at the local auto parts store for less than $50.

When I asked my mechanic is I could put one of the auto parts store’s pumps on my Comanche, he told me that he had to have paperwork to legally install it.

Is there anything I can do to get the price down where it’s reasonable?

—Fuel-less Fred


A: Dear Fred,

Many an aircraft owner has asked the same thing—and I’d suspect that there is more than one facet fuel pump from an auto parts store installed on a certified airplane like yours—but it’s not legal to do so.

Fortunately there is a solution to reduce the cost of one of these pumps and still comply with the regulations. It won’t get the price down to auto parts store prices, but it will cut it almost in half.

McFarlane Aviation in Baldwin City, Kan. sells replacement electric fuel pumps that are approved for installation on your airplane by STC. The cost of the replacement pump (Part No. CA35328-800E) is $245—and that includes free shipping.

You will have to go to the McFarlane website to download the STC paperwork and the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) that are needed to complete the installation.

These pumps have a one-year warranty from McFarlane.

I guess you can be grateful you don’t fly a later PA-24-250; it has two of these pumps.

Happy flying.


Know your FAR/AIM and check with your mechanic before starting any work.

Steve Ells has been an A&P/IA for 43 years and is a commercial pilot with instrument and multi-engine ratings. Ells also loves utility and bush-style airplanes and operations. He’s a former tech rep and editor for Cessna Pilots Association and served as associate editor for AOPA Pilot until 2008. Ells is the owner of Ells Aviation ( and the proud owner of a 1960 Piper Comanche. He lives in Templeton, Calif. with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to editor [AT] piperflyer [DOT] com.