How to Replace a Fuel Filter

  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-35
What You'll Need
New fuel filter
Open-end wrenches
Ground cloth
Safety glasses

Keeping your car in peak condition is a constant chore, and one oft-forgotten maintenance step is to replace the fuel filter. The fuel filter is a hidden link in the important chain of events that brings fuel to the engine and power to the wheels. It may never completely fail, but as it becomes lax in doing its job, your car feels the results. It begins to run roughly as silt and debris find their way into the carburetor or as impurities build up on other parts of the fuel system. Replacing it yourself may not be a simple job, and you’ll get a bit dirty. But your car will reward you with miles of pleasure.

Step 1: Find the Filter

With thousands of makes and models of cars on the market, it’s difficult to explain just where the fuel filter is located. On some vehicles, it is beneath the hood in clean sight, a round metal tube in the fuel line near the air cleaner. Other automakers hide it under the car next to the gas tank. Use the ground cloth if you need to work beneath the car. The filter will be somewhere between the tank and the engine. Its job is to remove any impurities from the fuel line.

Step 2: Release Fuel Pressure

Modern cars have fuel injectors to distribute the gas, and they build up pressure in the fuel line even when the car is stopped. Before attempting to remove a fuel filter, this pressure must be released. To do this, find the fuse or electronic relay that controls the fuel system. The relay will be in an electronics box beneath the hood on the driver’s side. The fuses might be inside the car below the steering column. Covers over both will identify the location of components. Remove the fuse or relay for the fuel system and start the car. It will die shortly for lack of fuel.

Step 3: Remove Old Filter

Now that the pressure is relieved, use the open-ended wrenches to remove the fuel line from each side of the filter. Wear safety glasses and gloves, because some fuel will leak out. The filter is attached to the car by a metal clamp or clip that can be removed with a screwdriver or socket wrench.

Step 4: Replace and Test

Install the new filter using the clamps from the old one. Reattach the fuel lines on each end. Replace the fuse or relay switch that controls the system. Crank the car to ensure that the fuel is flowing. Auto manufacturers suggest that the fuel filter should be changed about every 30,000. Mechanics suggest replacing it once a year. Now that you’ve become familiar with your car’s filter the maintenance should be no problem. You’ll be the one to replace fuel filter.

It is highly recommended that you replace the fuel filter once a year.