Symptoms of Bad Fuel Filters and Replacement Cost

Fuel filters are excellent components that help remove impurities before the fuel gets to the car’s engine. However, the endless filtration job may soon start causing them to build up the debris that gets them clogged. So, it would be best to know some symptoms of bad fuel filters and ensure you get them replaced soon.

One thing about cars is the avoidance of contaminated fluids. Hence, some filters prevent contaminants from getting to where the fluid is needed. Whether oil or fuel, you are sure to have those filters taking out the contaminants.

Nevertheless, a bad fuel filter can cause a lot for the vehicle, as it lets in various impurities. Also, a clogged filter would reduce the fuel flow. Such a situation can lead to an engine misfire, and you may soon start seeing the check light on. In essence, a clogged or bad fuel filter can cause serious harm to your engine.

Symptoms of Bad Fuel Filter

Ever noticed that little component found right between your car’s fuel injector and fuel tank? Well, that’s the fuel filter and it does a great job in removing contaminants from the fuel. When the fuel pump starts pushing fuel into the tank, the liquid must flow through the filter.

Then, all impurities get trapped on the fuel filter, leaving the contaminant-free fuel to pass into the fuel tank. With time, dirt starts accumulating on the filter, and may soon become clogged. Such an incident would prevent the proper flow of fuel.

Based on the fuel type your vehicle uses, you would need to replace this clogged or bad fuel filter. It would help if you change the filter on time before your car starts facing some challenging issues, which may lead to further damages. Hence, here are some signs you need to change your fuel filter.

Symptoms of Bad Fuel Filters

Check Engine Light Turns On

Are you concerned about the check engine light shining on your dashboard? Well, it signifies that there is an issue with the car. Kindly note that this light turning on may not directly tell that the fuel filter is bad. However, it offers some helpful clues that pinpoint the problem.

Simply put, you may not get a code for a bad fuel filter when further diagnosing with the OBD2 scanner. Nevertheless, an indication of the error code P0171 would diagnose issues of the vehicle running low on fuel.

By now, you should know that a clogged fuel filter would supply fewer fuel amounts to the car. So, this problem could be from the fuel filter, and it would help if you check and fix it.

Engine Misfiring

Whether partially or fully clogged, the engine may suddenly start misfiring when the fuel filter foes bad. Thus, when you notice such, you should try to check the fuel filters, ensuring that they are in good shape.

However, an engine misfiring results from a combination of various reasons. Hence, it may seem challenging to conclude that its occurrence is due to a clogged fuel filter. So, you may also want to check other external factors and get them eliminated too.

Engine Not Starting

This sign seems like one of the reasons why your car will not start, and it may occur due to a bad fuel filter. The car’s engine often faces a hard time starting when the spark plugs are faulty, the battery appears dead, or the alternator is bad.

Nevertheless, you may also face this issue if the car’s fuel filter seems clogged, as the engine receives very little or no fuel. In such a situation, you should try to look out for the fuel pump, ensuring that it is in good shape.

This component of the car works effectively in supplying the combustion system fuel, and when it goes bad the engine wouldn’t start. If you find the fuel pump in good condition, then the issue lies with the filter. To further confirm this issue, you can check the fuel gauge to determine the amount of fuel in the tank.

Engine Stalling

Under normal circumstances, applying some pressure on the gas pedal would make the pump release more fuel. This action is needed for the provision of sufficient fuel in the combustion system that would work for proper acceleration.

Nevertheless, the engine may start stalling when the fuel filter gets clogged since there is no sufficient fuel passing through. This issue seems similar to those associated with power fluctuation.

Reduced Fuel Economy

Ever wondered what could cause a drastic reduction of your car’s fuel economy? Well, you may think that the fuel filter getting clogged may improve the vehicle’s fuel economy but the reverse is the case.

Even though the fuel does not pass through and the combustion system barely gets sufficient fuel, there is a visible reduction in the fuel economy. This issue arises when the engine starts needing more fuel than is necessarily required for power generation.

What Causes Fuel Filter to Clog Sooner

According to car experts, the fuel filter should last for five years. In essence, the fuel filter may last for about 50,000 miles. Thus, you would need to change the one in your car taking this issue to mind.

A quick replacement would ensure that there are no problems with the vehicle’s combustion system. Kindly note that this may change from car to car, based on the car model and year. Nevertheless, there may be a need to change the fuel filter sooner with the frequent use of the vehicle.

The dirty work that this part of the car does causes its lifespan to reduce drastically. Since it takes out all the impurities from the fuel before sending it into the combustion system, it gets clogged with time.

Leaving it for too long could become catastrophic, and when the filter works very often the dirt may accumulate more. Thus, it may not last up to five years as speculated by some car experts. Once the debris appears on the fuel filter, it starts decreasing the amount of fuel that passes through.

There are vast modifications in the manufacturing of new car models. Still, you can make use of the fuel pressure test to determine if you should change the fuel filters or not. Such a test would measure the PSI output from the fuel pump around the fuel lines.

Kindly note that you can always clean the fuel filter but when the case appears extreme it would be right to replace the fuel filter. It would also help if you check the fuel filter from time to time and change them when the need arises.

How to Clean Clogged Fuel Filter

Cleaning the fuel filter would improve its lifespan and help the fuel flow to the combustion system with ease. Nevertheless, the first step in doing so is knowing how to check the fuel filter. Once you can access the fuel filter, then you would need to get it removed.

Still, you must try to relieve the pressure around the car’s fuel system. You can need to find the fuel pump fuse with the aid of your car manual. Then get it removed and allow the vehicle’s engine to run for one or two minutes.

Also, remove the battery’s negative terminal, and ensure that there is no accidental connection while you try to clean the fuel filter. Then, find the fuel filter; some cars have the fuel filter covered within the engine bay.

If the need arises, jack the car to help you have better access once raised and place a bucket under the fuel filter. Such action would help collect the fuel that spills during this process. Work on removing the clips that get the fuel line attached to the filter.

Furthermore, get the fuel line out and loosen the bolts that fasten the fuel filter to place. Whatever fuel is left in the filter, get it out and start spraying the filter with a suitable cleaner. you can search for fuel filter cleaners in various auto stores and buy one that works effectively.

Take out all debris by knocking the filter carefully against the container’s side and flush. Then air-dry the filter for the next one hour. Then, start reinstalling the fuel filter, placing it in the right position, and fastening the bolts.

Fix the fuel lines and other components you got out when trying to access the filter. Fix the battery terminal and start the engine. It would also help if you look out for possible fuel leakages and work on fixing that if you notice any.

In essence, you may need the following tools:

  • Hose clamps
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Jack
  • Adjustable wrench
  • cleaner

Fuel filter Replacement Cost

When you start noticing some signs you need to change your fuel filter, it would be best to get this issue fixed as soon as possible. Where is the fuel filter located? This question seems pretty common among folks, indicating that they have little or no mechanical knowledge.

If you are one of such person, you would need to take the car to an expert and get the fuel filter replaced. Changing the main fuel filter doesn’t cost much, as this part may be available for $14 to $16 in various auto stores.

Nevertheless, experts may charge for replacing the fuel filter, and as such, the cost may reach $100 to $150. Thus, if you notice some bad fuel filter symptoms, you can search for the fuel filter replacement “near me” and find a good service station.

Here is a glimpse of the pricing estimate that you should expect. Still, the price varies based on the car model and service station.

fuel filter replacement cost

Car Car Model Parts Price (Approx.) Labor Cost (Approx.) Total (Estimated) Cost
Volkswagen 2015 Volkswagen Beetle $39.70 $80 $120
Cadillac 2006 Cadillac CTS $12.35 $80 $92
Ford 2011 Ford Escape $11.75 $80 $92
Dodge 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 $17.81 $80 $98
Audi 2008 Audi S4 $16.50 $80 $96
Chevrolet 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 $22 $80 $104
Mercedes 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL350 $24.80 $112 $137

Most Popular Service Stations Estimating Cost

Pep Boys

Pep Boys charges an estimated cost of $79 to $199 for the replacement of clogged fuel filters. Thus, you may search for them and take your car to their experts, who would get the filters replaced.


For the part and labor, Midas charges an estimated cost of $64 to $188. The price seems fair, and you can rest assured that the fuel filter replacement will be handled by experts.

Your Mechanic

Here, you can get the fuel filter parts and have them reinstalled at an estimated cost range of $83 to $209.

Mr. Tire

This service station can help you get your bad fuel filter replaced at an estimated cost between the range of $71 and $213. Kindly note that this price covers the cost of the fuel filter itself and the cost of “labor.”


Here at Walmart, you can get a fuel filter replacement within the range of $6 and $45. Kindly note that this cost covers the parts alone, and you may need to confirm from the station how much they charge for labor.


How much is the fuel filter at AutoZone? Well, you can get a fuel filter for as low as $4. Interestingly, there are a variety of fuel filters to choose from AutoZone, and you can choose the most suitable option.

Final Words

Fuel filters are crucial in every car, as they help remove the impurities from fuel before they get to the combustion system. Nevertheless, you may notice the engine jerks when the fuel filter is bad or seems clogged. Such an issue occurs due to the insufficient fuel supply, and it can also cause an “engine knocking.”

Thus, it would be beneficial to get them replaced quickly to prevent further damage to the vehicle’s engine. This article reveals some common symptoms of bad fuel filters and possible estimates for getting the fuel filter replaced.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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