Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 25, 2010)
Have you ever gone out to start your car, only to find that it won't start or it seems to start, only to a short time later sputter to a slow death? Once of the more common reasons that this happens is due to a clogged fuel filter. Replacing a fuel filter can be one of the easiest of home automotive repairs, as long as you know what you are going to be doing, and have the confidence that you can in fact do it. In fact, the most difficult part of replacing a fuel filter is actually finding the dang blasted part.
Before you begin doing any work on your vehicle's fuel line, a word of caution must be given. Since you are going to be working with gasoline, you must work in a well ventilated area, free from any danger of flame or sparks. The fumes typically the most flammable, so ventilation is going to help dispel those, and remember: NO SMOKING!
On most cars and trucks the fuel filter can be located somewhere between the fuel tank (naturally) and the fuel injector. Typically, the fuel filter can be found underneath the vehicle near the gas tank. Before you remove the filter, make a note of which way the fuel is flowing. This is fairly easy to do since most fuel filters have a little arrow on them indicating that flow. When you reinstall the filter, make sure that the arrow is pointing towards the engine, and away from the tank.
Once you have found where the fuel pump is located, you are probably going to notice that it has a covering, or shield over it. Don't worry, this can be removed with a screwdriver or a small wrench. After you have the cover off, you are finally going to be able to see the actual filter and lines.
Take a look at the actual fittings. Since some fuel fittings, like those on Fords, require a special tool, you need to make sure that you use the correct tool. Most vehicles use a simple hex fitting, which you can remove with regular tools.
Take a small screwdriver and remove any hairpin style clips that may be holding the fuel lines in place. Once you have all the fuel lines separated from the filter, you can now begin removing the filter from the frame. Again, be sure that you note how it was attached, and in what direction, prior to removal.
With your new filter in hand, simply start to place everything back together. I would suggest doing it in the reverse order of how you removed everything. After you have reassembled and secured all the components of the fuel filter, crank the engine a few times, preferably with the ignition disables in order to build fuel pressure. Take another look at where the filter and lines are located and make sure that you do not have any leaks. If there are no leaks, run the engine for a few minutes to ensure proper flow, and you are finished.
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