A clean fuel filter is crucial to keeping a fuel delivery system in proper working order. By filtering out impurities from fuel, the filter prevents fuel injectors from becoming clogged and helps maintain a vehicle’s peak performance level.

Why Is The Fuel Filter Important? Isn’t Gasoline Already Refined?

Yes, fuel is cleaned in the refinery, but it picks up a lot of impurities during storage and transportation to your local gas station. Plus, a car’s gas tank typically contains dirt and other particles that can wreak havoc on an engine.

A clogged fuel filter forces the fuel pump to work harder and less efficiently. When you accelerate, a starved engine uses a leaner fuel mixture and loses power. Replacing the fuel filter regularly prevents those particles and impurities from reaching the fuel injectors. Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended filter replacement intervals.

Where Do I Find The Fuel Filter?

Some modern vehicles use an external fuel filter that is attached to the fuel supply line. This is connected to the gas tank and the fuel rail that feeds the fuel injectors. You can find the fuel filter simply by following the supply line.

Several applications now feature the fuel filter as part of the fuel pump module assembly, which is located inside the tank. For these vehicles, a faulty or clogged fuel filter generally indicates problems with the fuel pump as well. For some of these, you can just replace the fuel filter by itself but for most, you have to replace the complete fuel pump module assembly.

How Do I Replace An External Fuel Filter?

In this example, we’re replacing the fuel filter on a 1999 Ford Expedition. The same procedure applies to most Ford cars, SUVs, and trucks. To remove the filter you will need a few tools. You will need some wrenches, a fuel line disconnect tool, a screwdriver, and a drain pan.

  • Disconnect the negative battery cable for extra safety.
  • Relieve the fuel pressure with one of these methods:
  • Press the pressure relief valve that’s located on the fuel rail.
  • Take out the fuel pump fuse, then start the engine. Let it run until it dies from using all the fuel remaining in the line. Turn off the ignition.
  • Place the drain pan under the filter to catch any fuel that may spill. Take off the safety clips from the fuel filter and fuel lines.
  • Slip a fuel line disconnect tool all the way in between the tip of the fuel filter and the fuel line. The tool pushes out the tabs that hold the fuel line in place, allowing you to detach it from the filter.
  • With one hand, hold the tool against the fuel line. Use your other hand to pull the line out. Disconnect both lines, then remove the fuel filter.
  • Loosen the worm gear clamp that secures the fuel filter to the frame. Slide the filter forward out of the clamp.
  • Apply petroleum jelly as a lubricant either on the ends of the new filter or on the O-ring seals in the fuel lines. Slide the new filter into the clamp and tighten the clamp. Reconnect the fuel lines by pushing them onto the new filter until they lock in place.
  • Replace the negative battery cable.
  • Start the engine and make sure no fuel leaks are present.


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