Comprehensive Guide for Fuel Filter Replacement for Used Cars & Trucks in Missouri

November 18th, 2021 by

The staff at Thompson Sales wants your vehicle to run as smoothly as possible. Our first-class service department provides car maintenance and car repairs of all types.

Take a look at our comprehensive guide for fuel filter replacement for used cars and trucks in Missouri.  

What is the purpose of a fuel filter on my used car or truck?

The purpose of a fuel filter is to remove large particles of impurities, such as rust or bits of metal, from the inside of the fuel tank before it reaches the combustion chamber. 

Where is the fuel filter located in my used car or truck?

Your car’s fuel filter sits along the fuel line before the fuel injectors atomize gasoline to put it into the combustion chamber next to the pistons. Some vehicles have non-serviceable fuel filters within the fuel tank. Others have filters attached to the fuel line, either under the tank or under the hood next to the engine.

Your vehicle owner’s manual will show you the location of the fuel filter if it needs to be serviced or replaced.

Man's glove hands installing a fuel filter in an engine 

How often should I replace my used car or truck’s fuel filter?

You may have to change it every 20,000 to 40,000 miles, depending on the age of your vehicle. Some vehicles may not require a change for 60,000 miles. Other cars don’t have replaceable fuel filters. Your vehicle owner’s manual will give the recommended interval. 

What happens if I don’t change my used car or truck’s fuel filter?

Not changing this vital part of your vehicle can lead to several problems, such as:

Sputtering while accelerating. When your engine sputters, it means there is a lack of power. Many things can cause a lack of power to the engine during acceleration, and one of them is a dirty fuel filter. If your engine’s fuel sensor detects a problem, it will restrict the amount of fuel that reaches the injectors to protect the engine from contaminants.

Check Engine light coming on. If your vehicle has a fuel pressure sensor, it monitors the amount of pressure in the fuel system. This sensor can detect drops in fuel pressure, which may be caused by a dirty fuel filter.

Difficulty starting the engine. A dirty filter can cause issues when starting your vehicle because the engine isn’t getting enough fuel to the injectors due to a clog. 

Stalling. Perhaps the most prevalent symptom of a clogged fuel filter is a stalled engine. That’s because the clog prevents enough fuel from getting to the combustion chamber to fire the pistons. 

Idling problems. When your car idles, it should still run without sputtering. Rough idling, vibrating, or shaking during idle periods may point to a clogged filter.

Misfiring pistons. Misfiring happens when the car’s engine misses one or more of the steps in the combustion process. Pistons must fire in sequence for the engine to run properly. A clogged fuel filter might be one reason for misfiring pistons.

All of these issues can be caused by reasons other than a clogged fuel filter. A certified service technician can diagnose the problem correctly and suggest a solution.

Man's hands holding a clean fuel filter 

Can you clean a used car or truck’s fuel filter without replacing or removing it?

No, you cannot do this nor try to attempt it.

Can fuel injector cleaning chemicals unclog my used car or truck’s fuel filter?

Despite claims on the labels of these products, fuel injector cleaners and similar chemicals cannot unclog or prevent clogs in a fuel filter.

Why does my used car or truck’s fuel filter keep clogging?

Several things can clog this part of your used vehicle’s fuel system:

Rust from a decaying gas tank, fittings, and steel fuel lines. These rust particles travel through your car’s fuel line and become trapped by the filter. Any rust that gets past the filter can damage your engine, causing high-cost problems later.

Sediment from low-quality fuel. Not all gasoline is created equal. Make sure you put high-quality fuel in your gas tank. The best fuel has additives and cleaners to keep your engine running smoothly.

Deposits of dirt or water from a gas station’s in-ground storage tanks. Older fuel tanks in the ground may develop small leaks over time, which could lead to dirty gasoline.

Dirty air filter. A dirty air filter can make your engine’s combustion chamber gradually fill with deposits. 

Moisture from your fuel tank. The only thing that should go in our fuel tank is the fuel. But occasionally, water or moisture can seep into the fuel tank before going through your fuel line. Moisture reduces the effectiveness of a filter because it can lead to rust in the tank.

Dust and dirt. When you fuel your vehicle, dust or dirt may enter the tank. These deposits might make their way to the fuel filter and cause clogs.

Driving in dirty and dusty conditions. Off-roading or constantly driving in dusty conditions can lead to dirt and dust in the fuel system.

Broken fuel pump. A fuel pump sends fuel from the tank to the engine through the fuel lines. If the fuel pump breaks, it might send tiny bits of debris into the fuel line.

Cutaway of a Fuel Filter

What is in a fuel filter?

Your vehicle’s fuel filter looks like a metal cartridge the size of a soup can or a little larger. Inner filtration media contains pleated paper to remove contaminants interspersed with fine-mesh steel wire to keep the paper in place.

How does a car’s fuel filter sensor work?

Some cars have a fuel filter sensor to detect the amount of moisture in the contraption. When this moisture reaches maximum levels, a light comes on your dashboard to indicate it’s time to change the filter.

What used cars or trucks need fuel filters to operate?

All internal combustion engines need fuel filters to operate.

Gloved hands holding a fuel filter before installing in an engine

Will a new fuel filter increase engine performance?

Proper maintenance of your car’s fuel filter can boost performance of your engine by 2 to 4 percent if everything else works properly. Your gas mileage may improve with a new fuel filter.

How much does fuel filter replacement cost?

Anywhere from $50 to $170, depending on the size of the filter and labor costs involved.

How long does it take to replace a fuel filter?

Depending on the location of the filter in your car, it may take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to replace a fuel filter.

Where can I get my used car or truck’s fuel filter changed in Springfield, Missouri?

Consider the world-class service department of Thompson Sales at 1555 East Independence Street. If you have any questions, contact us or call (417) 763-6811.

Posted in Car Maintenance