How To Tell If Your Fuel Filter Is Clogged

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Many newer vehicles integrate the fuel filter with the in-tank fuel pump.

The fuel filter may be part of the in-tank fuel pump.

Fuel: your automobile runs on it, obviously, but it’s not the only thing that gets into your car. Contaminants, dirt, and the odd thing make their way into your fuel, which goes all throughout the car.

If there’s no fuel getting to your engine, the vehicle won’t go. So how do you prevent this problem? Read on.

The fuel filter will collect all manner of contaminants. Remember how you get your gas from the gas station? Well that gas is also stored in giant tanks underground. These tanks corrode and get dirty‚ just like your gas tank can. Dirt, rust, and other contaminants go from the gas station;s tank to your vehicle’s, and it’s the fuel filter’s job to prevent that stuff from reaching your fuel injection system and engine.

You can tell that you may need a new fuel filter by looking for a few basic signs. When you hit the gas, your vehicle does one of the following:

  • Shudders
  • Sputters
  • Hesitates
  • Lacks Power
  • Stalls

When your fuel filter gets clogged, not enough gas gets to your engine, which causes a loss of power, or could even result in a vehicle stall.

In addition, your vehicle may be underperforming because the fuel filter is getting dirty or clogged without showing obvious signs of distress. For older vehicles, manufacturers may recommend changing your fuel filter every 12,000 miles, but that number may varies widely. Depending on your environment and driving habits, you may have to change your filter sooner than the recommended interval. Some are designed for extended service and there is no maintenance interval for fuel filter replacement. Check your Chilton subscription for maintenance intervals as well as tests, troubleshooting, diagnostics, and technical service bulletins.

Inline fuel filter

Some fuel filters are inline, rather than integrated with the fuel pump.

You can also remove your fuel filter to see how it looks. You’ll need a few tools like wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, and pliers‚ although, again, your specific needs will vary based on your vehicle. Fuel filters are attached to the fuel line in various ways. Check your Chilton subscription for instructions for your vehicle.

Filters are fairly inexpensive, starting at around $15, and some cost much more than that. Consult your owner’s manual for information about the specific fuel filter you need.

When you remove the fuel filter, you’ll see what sort of fuel spills out. Gasoline should be relatively clear, with a bluish hue. If the fuel in the filter is brown or more opaque, that’s a sure sign you should change it.

If you’re handy, changing your fuel filter is an easy, inexpensive project to do at home. It usually requires few tools and only a little time. Consult your Chilton subscription for the fuel filter maintenance interval and fuel filter replacement procedure.

6 responses to “How To Tell If Your Fuel Filter Is Clogged”

  1. Denver Mobile Mechanic says:

    I think you’ve saved many people from a lot of trouble because air filters are not easy to clean and need a proper amount of compressed air to be sprayed on them along with many other things. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Blake Anderson says:

    to remove fuel filter from leakage it is necessary to be cleaned time to time and it needs compressed air – four wheeler pick up

  3. Peter says:

    My car’s fuel consumption seems to be very high. Its a Honda CRV 2001 model. Is there any tips to increase mileage. When I was in Edmonton I used to get services from Apex Specialized Automotive Inc. last month I shifted to Toronto. Will consulting any mechanics help to resolve this issue?

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      If it hasn’t been serviced in a while, 20,000 miles or so, you could check for diagnostic trouble codes with a scan tool. A good tech might see something like a lazy oxygen sensor, even if there is no check engine light illuminated. A flagging component might be within the parameters for the car’s computer but cause the vehicle to run richer and use more gas.
      The easier you drive, the better mileage you’ll get.
      In cold weather, the vehicle uses more gas because it needs to run richer longer to start.
      Tires lose pressure in cold weather and underinflated tires reduce gas mileage.

  4. headliner fabric says:

    Thanks for the post !

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