When is it time to replace your fuel filter?
If you can't remember the last time you changed your fuel filter, then it's probably time to do so now. It is part of routine vehicle maintenance, and should be done according to your manufacturer's suggested intervals. A dirty filter can starve your engine of fuel, causing poor performance and erratic fluctuations at idle speed. Once it gets clogged, fuel can be completely deprived and the car will stall or sometimes not even start. Obviously, it takes some time to get to this point. Fuel filters with paper elements will get soiled earlier than ones with synthetic fiber or mesh screens, and thus need to be replaced more often. However, they tend to be less expensive and easier to access because they are changed so many times. You can usually find yours under the vehicle in your fuel line or under the hood near your carburetor or throttle body. Fuel filter problems are not dire, but can cause serious inconveniences to you and your passengers. Imagine your car dying in the middle of a long road trip, and the thing that could have prevented it was the changing of a simple, inexpensive part. Don't let that happen to you or your car.
What does a fuel filter do?
Since the early days of the automobile, manufacturers and drivers alike knew that the gasoline that went into their cars was not 100% clean. Because the earliest combustion engines were carbureted, fuel filters weren't of the greatest importance. The fuel was going to get slightly dirty from the intake anyway, and since delivery wasn't completely uniform it didn't matter too much if some particulate was affecting combustion. As cars evolved, so did their fuel delivery systems. Today's vehicles rely on precise metering from fuel injectors, and they should be kept as clean as possible. That means that every car built in the last several decades has an in-line or in-tank fuel filter
. It is responsible for keeping rust and sediment out of the fuel lines so that the air/fuel mix is clean and combustible.
It's easier than you think.
Changing a fuel filter can be either surprisingly easy or very difficult. It all depends on the location. But no matter where it is located, there are a few constants.
- First, you must make sure there is no pressure in the fuel lines. If you have a carbureted engine with a mechanical fuel pump, then there is no pressure as long as the engine is off. If you have fuel injection or an electric fuel pump (or both), then you will have to remove the fuel pump relay or fuse and run your engine until it cuts off. This will drain the fuel in your lines.
- Next, find the fuel filter and disconnect it at both ends. Usually there will just be an "in" and an "out" pipe, and the filter will be marked accordingly. Simply disconnect the fuel lines at each end.
- Now, reconnect the fuel lines to the new filter and replace the relay or fuse that you removed earlier.
- You are not ready to start the car yet. Turn the ignition to the "on" position to re-pressurize the system.Check for leaks at this time. If you see none, you are ready to drive on your new fuel filter.
Save time and money with parts from Car Parts Discount.
For most applications, it is recommended you replace your fuel filter once a year. That will ensure you keep your fuel injectors happy and clean by keeping rust and grime out of the fuel supply. Not doing so will prevent your engine from operating at peak performance, and overtime could lead to potential fuel injector failure. At Car Parts Discount, we offer all the top name brand replacement fuel filters you will find at the auto parts stores but for much less. That means you can stock up on spare filters, and use them in the future whenever you need to.