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8 Signs Of A Bad Fuel Filter– How To Tell If The Fuel Filter Is Bad? 

8 Signs Of A Bad Fuel Filter

When introducing any fluid to your vehicle, you need to ensure that the fluid doesn't have any contamination or impurity. That's why all vehicle fluids go through filters before they get into their destination.

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For example, the vehicle has oil filters, brake filters, transmission filters, and, most importantly, fuel filters.

The fuel filter ensures that no contamination or impurities get into the engine combustion system that could result in engine troubles. 

Like any component of your vehicle, the filter tells you when it's close to failure before it even fails. It is important to keep an eye on signs of a bad fuel filter so you can fix it before it gets more complicated, resulting in significant mechanical problems in your vehicle.

In this article, we provide you with a quick overview of the fuel filter. Then, highlight the top signs of a bad fuel filter. Furthermore, we provide you will cost estimates for replacing your vehicle's fuel filter. Finally, we answer the most frequently asked questions about the bad fuel filter.

What is the fuel filter, and what does it do? 


Before we dig into the details of a bad filter, it is important to understand what the fuel filter is and how it works. Once you understand the functionality of the filter, you can pinpoint the signs of a bad filter yourself.

In a combustion system engine, this system would require a certain amount of fuel to be mixed with air to create a controlled explosion. To ensure that the air-fuel ratio is accurate, the fuel must go through a filter to remove any impurities and small particles that could affect this ratio and overall explosion process. 

The fuel filter is a small component placed between the fuel tank and the fuel injector. In older vehicles, the fuel filter is placed in the fuel line; however, in newer vehicles, automakers were able to place the filter inside the fuel tank right next to the exiting port line. 

Once the fuel pump pushes fuel out of the fuel tank, it forces it to pass through the fuel filter, so the small particles and contaminations get trapped on the filter. This way, the resultant fuel is clean enough and ready to go to the combustion system. 

Overtime of usage, the fuel filter can get clogged by the different particles and sediment wearing out from the fuel tank walls. Depending on the type of fuel that you're using, you might get to a point where you must change the fuel filter.


8 Signs of a bad fuel filter


As we indicated in the previous section come on, the fuel tank filter can get clogged by particles from dirty fuel or are wearing a fuel tank. Like most vehicle components, the fuel filter will give some signs to indicate that it is close to failure. Some of the most common signs of a bad fuel filter include:



  • A significant change in vehicles power in response to loads 



If you were driving your vehicle uphill and noticed that it's losing power, it could be a sign of a bad filter. 

When the vehicle is under stress, like going up a Hill or has a lot of hauling, it will need much more fuel to produce more power that could resist and work against gravity. When you have a clogged filter, the fuel will not be able to pass through and get to the combustion system. As a result, you will notice a clear fluctuation in your vehicle's power in response to these stresses or loads. 


  • Check engine light illuminating 



Your vehicle's internal computer uses the check engine light to indicate issues with your vehicle. While some of these issues can be easily fixed, others might be very complicated and could result in complete vehicle failure.

A bad filter will not trigger the check engine light to eliminate; however, the issues resulting from a bad filter can trigger this check engine light. 

For instance, if your mechanic told you that the check engine lights indicated an error code of P0171, the problem could be related to your fuel filter even if the code indicates an issue with the vehicle running on weak fuel. 

Similarly, if the check engine light indicates an error code of P0174 that is related to an issue with the mass airflow sensor, the culprit could be related to a clogged or failing fuel filter. 

Therefore, to avoid kissing these issues, you must perform regular maintenance to your vehicle components, including the fuel filter. 


  • A sudden engine misfire 



While a partially clogged filter does not cause an engine misfire, if the filter is fully clogged, your vehicles driving uphill or have heavy loads, it is very likely to experience an engine misfire. 

When the engine misfire happens, it is hard to pinpoint which cylinder got affected as they required additional fuel to help the engine move up the Hill or carry the heavy loads. Usually, engine misfire is caused by a combination of different factors, including the problematic fuel filter. 

Again, engine misfire can happen due to multiple issues; Therefore, if the engine misfired come on, it's not necessarily the fuel filter. It would help if you first eliminated all the other factors that could lead to an engine misfire before you assume it's the fuel filter. 


  • Engine stalling 



Similar to the issue with power fluctuation, a problematic fuel filter can cause engine stalling. Even if your filter is clogged, you can still start your vehicle; however, as your vehicle continues running and burning more fuel, it might stall suddenly due to insufficient fuel supply. 

Under normal operations, when you press on the gas pedal, you're asking the fuel pump to push more fuel, so he reaches the combustion system and provides more power to the engine to accelerate. However, if your fuel filter is clogged, pressing the gas pedal can cause engine stalling because the fuel cannot pass through the clogged filter. 


  • Engine not able to start 



Problems with the engine not starting can be related to many factors, including a problematic starter, a bad alternator, a faulty spark, and a dead battery. Interestingly, your engine might not also start due to a completely clogged filter. You can confirm that by checking the fuel gauge and seeing fuel in the fuel tank. 


When the engine doesn't start, the first thing you need to check is the fuel pump because the fuel pump is responsible for withdrawing the fuel and sending it to the combustion system. A failing fuel pump results in the engine not starting. If the pump is fine and all other components are not having any problem and the engine still doesn't start, then its definitely a complete fuel filter failure. 


  • The fuel pump gets damaged



Since the fuel filter allows the flow of fuel from the fuel tank to the fuel combustion system, any clogging in the fuel filter can put stress on the fuel pump. If the stress increased significantly, the fuel pump might get damaged completely. 


  • Strong orders coming from the exhaust system 



As a rule of thumb, if you started smelling any weird smells coming from your vehicle, this is an indication of an internal problem with one of the vehicle's components. Some of these problems might be easy to fix, while others might be very complicated and could result in complete vehicle damage.

While that orders can be related to multiple causes, a clogged filter might result in the exhaust emitting strong bad fumes. Whatever the cause of these orders, it is recommended that you never ignore them, and you take your vehicle to a professional mechanic to give the problem resolved. This way, you prevent dealing with significant or complicated mechanical issues that requires a lot of effort and high repair costs. 


  • Significant reduction in the fuel economy 



A clogged fuel filter might sound that will improve the fuel economy because not a lot of fuel will pass through to the combustion system. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

When the fuel filter blocks the fuel from passing through to the combustion system, the engine will demand an additional fuel supply. The engine will require the fuel pump to send much more fuel than necessary to generate the appropriate power. As a result, the vehicle will start consuming much more fuel than usual, causing a bad fuel economy. 

How much does it cost to replace a fuel filter? 


The actual fuel filter part is not very expensive, and it's expected to cost you between $14.00 and $60.00. However, considering the labor costs come on expect the bill, she will go as high as between $100 and $150. 

To clarify, Mechanical repair costs are divided into two groups: parts cost and labor cost. 

Even if the part is not very expensive, along the location where you get the job done determines your final bill. In other words, if you get your fuel filter replaced at a small repair shop come on you will be expecting to pay less money than getting it done at a dealership hey 

Some people try to change the fuel filter by themselves to save high labor repair costs. While this idea might be smart, replacing a fuel filter can be a little tricky if you don't have the required mechanical skill sets, as you might cause additional troubles that could require repair costs higher than the actual filter replacement. 

Therefore, depending on your mechanical skills, you are the best person to determine if it's worth replacing your fuel filter by yourself or getting the job done at and mechanic shop. 

Many people try to apply the DIYs from the Internet; unfortunately, it is known that DIY's do not work for the first time, and there's a big chance that will fill replacing your fuel filter. Therefore, if you don't have the confidence and previous experience with replacing your fuel filter, it is better to leave it to the professionals and have it done by a professional mechanic.  

How long does a fuel filter last? 


Automobile experts recommend that you change your fuel filter once every five years or every 50,000 miles. However, many professional mechanics suggest changing your fuel filter at around 10,000 miles to prevent dealing with complicated issues with the combustion system.

While this number can be wildly applied to multiple vehicles, the best place to find accurate details is the owner's manual. Depending on new vehicles make, model, and year, you will determine an exact duration of how often to change the fuel filter. 

Another thing to keep in mind, the type of fuel that you are using can also suggest when to change your filter if it's sooner than the suggested number in the vehicle owner's manual. The vehicles owner manual assumes a specific level of fuel purity, and if you are not using a properly sure fuel, you might shorten the life of your fuel filter. 




Any liquid and your engine have to pass through some filtering. The vehicle has many filters like the brake fuel filter, the coolant filter, and the fuel filter.

The fuel filter is responsible or ensuring that any fuel going to the combustion system doesn't have contamination or large particles. Over time of use, the fuel filter gets clogged and needs to be replaced to ensure proper vehicle operation.

There are many signs of a bad filled fuel filter, including engine fluctuation in power, check engine light illuminating, engine misfire, engine not starting, and engine stalling. 

While you can drive your vehicle if it has a partially clogged filter for a short period, if the filter goods are completely clogged, it can result in significant engine failure if ignored. Therefore, if you notice any of the signs of a bad fuel filter, you must get it replaced to avoid further complicated mechanical issues with the vehicle that will cost you a lot of time and money. 

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