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The complete guide to replacing a fuel filter

  Wednesday, 7 February 2024

A fuel filter is one of those components in your car that do a quiet but important job, ensuring that your engine runs effectively and smoothly. Here’s our guide to fuel filter replacement if you fancy doing it yourself at home.

Car mechanic working in a garage

What is the fuel filter and why is it important?

You can locate the fuel filter either in the fuel tank itself or in the fuel lines between the tank and the fuel pump. If you are unsure check your vehicle manual to locate it. The fuel filter prevents debris, dirt, dust and other particulates from entering the fuel system, contaminating the engine and affecting performance. Over time the filter itself will become clogged, obstructing the flow of fuel to the engine.

When should I change my fuel filter?

Your fuel filter should be good for at least 30,000 miles on older cars and perhaps even double that on more modern vehicles. So, you may only have to change a fuel filter once every 5-10 years, depending on how much you drive.

How will I know I need to replace my fuel filter?

A bad fuel filter is one of the things to keep an eye on in your engine. There will be a few tell-tale signs that it’s time for a car fuel filter replacement.

Starting the car may take longer than usual, or it could be misfiring, struggling to accelerate, being unresponsive or stalling. A faulty fuel filter could be the cause of a fuel system component failure. Loud noises from the fuel pump could be your car’s way of telling you something is wrong.

Can I replace my fuel filter myself?

Replacing the fuel filter is something that you can do yourself if you are confident working with car engines and components. If not, you should get a fuel filter changed at your local garage by a professionally trained mechanic.

What to do before replacing fuel filter?

Firstly, make sure your vehicle is parked on a solid, level surface. Have a fire extinguisher available, as you will be working with the fuel system, and petrol or diesel is very flammable. Wear eye protection, gloves and old clothing as you are likely to get messy replacing a fuel filter.

Female mechanic repairing a car

How do you change a fuel filter step by step?

We have to emphasise that you should only attempt a filter replacement if you are a confident amateur mechanic and know your way around an engine.

  1. Relieve the pressure in the fuel system by loosening the fuel cap, and then remove the fuel pump fuse or relay (for the location of these, check your owner’s manual). Start and run the engine until the fuel in the lines is used up and the engine stops working. Then, crank the engine for a couple of seconds to remove any remaining pressure.

  2. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery.

  3. Find the fuel filter in the engine compartment or beneath the vehicle near the fuel tank (you may need to raise the rear of the vehicle and then support it with jack stands). Then, disconnect the fuel lines from the fuel filter.

  4. Remove the mounting bolts on the fuel filter (if your car has them).

  5. Once you’ve verified that you have the correct replacement filter, install it, ensuring that the flow arrow is pointing towards the engine. Re-install the mounting bolts if applicable.

  6. Fit the lines back onto the new fuel filter and re-install the fuel pump fuse. Then, re-connect the negative battery cable.

  7. Start your engine and check it for fuel leaks. On some occasions, the engine might not start easily on the first attempt due to a lack of fuel, but as the pressure increases and the fuel reaches the injectors, it should start to get back to normal.

  8. Give the car a quick test drive to check everything’s running as it should be.

How many hours does it take to change a fuel filter?

If you know what you’re doing, it shouldn’t take too long for a fuel filter replacement. You should be able to complete the job in 30-45 minutes at the most.

Find fuel system parts for your car at ASM

Here at ASM Auto Recycling, we can help with your search for replacement parts for your car. In our used car parts store you can search by your car registration, make and model and find all the parts that we have available for your vehicle. These include fuel system parts, engine and transmission parts. You can also use our parts enquiry form. Plus, we offer a 90-day parts peace of mind guarantee for fitting used replacement engines or car parts purchased from ASM.

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