How a Fuel Filter Works

Fuel filter.

Understanding the Fuel Filter

You know your car needs gas in the gas tank to give the motor power. As well as gas manufacturers can clean the fuel as it is made, there are still some small impurities like debris, dirt, debris, and other particulate matter that can get past all their filtering methods. This can adversely affect a car’s performance, which is why a fuel filter is needed on every car. 

Even if all the major components of your vehicle are in good operating and running condition, there is one small thing that can stop it all from going anywhere. That one small thing is the fuel filter. Like the transmission screen, it is powerful without having actual power.

How is the fuel filter so powerful? 

Depending on the make and model of your car, the fuel filter location is either inside the fuel tank at the fuel line opening, or between the fuel tank and the engine somewhere along the fuel line that is running along the bottom of the car. By the location of the fuel filter to the carburetor, the fuel filter keeps any debris and trash that may get into the gas tank from getting to the fuel pump and carburetor. 

If the fuel filter wasn’t there, debris and trash could get into the fuel pump and carburetor, causing a lot of expensive and extensive damage.  It is sometimes easier and is less expensive to do a fuel filter change than rebuild or replace the carburetor or fuel pump. 

Signs of a Clogged Filter

What are the symptoms that would make you think your car fuel filter is clogged? If the fuel filter in your car is working properly and doing its job, it should need to be changed once in a while. The longer a fuel filter is in place and working, the more of those particles we mentioned earlier get caught. 

There isn’t any recommended schedule of when fuel filter replacement is needed, like an oil change or tire rotation. However, you don’t want the fuel filter to get so clogged up it strands you on the highway, right?  So some early symptoms to be aware of: 

  • Difficult to Start

The engine needs fuel to make it start as well as keep it running, but if the fuel filter is clogged, the fuel can’t get to where it’s needed. 

  • Engine Sputters

If your car sounds like it’s sputtering at an idle after starting it, this usually means the fuel is sporadic in keeping the right fuel level for the engine to run consistently. 

  • Acceleration Inconsistent

Each time you push on the gas pedal, it pushes fuel to the engine. A clogged fuel filter will minimize the amount of fuel needed, not allowing the engine to accelerate as needed. Some people call this “bogging down”. 

  • High Engine Temperature

When the engine isn’t getting enough fuel, it causes the combustion cycle to be off balance. In turn, the engine works hard and becomes overstressed, causing it to run hot. 

  • Poor Fuel Efficiency

If the engine isn’t getting the right amount of fuel and causes the engine stress as we just mentioned, this will cause it to use more fuel. 

It is important to note that all of these symptoms we just mentioned can also be caused by the carburetor or fuel pump too. If your car is experiencing any of these symptoms, take it to your mechanic and they can assess the situation to determine if it is the fuel filter vs fuel pump, or something different. 

Can a fuel filter cause a check engine light?

Yes, in some newer vehicles, the engine is equipped with sensors that monitor and read the fuel pressure. When the fuel filter is clogged, that creates a low fuel pressure, triggering the sensor to turn the Check Engine Light on. 

However, the Check Engine Light can mean a number of other things besides a clogged fuel filter. Several situations can cause the engine light to come on that will need mechanical or technical attention. When that light comes on, you should schedule an appointment for the mechanic to give you a car checkup. 

Car engine

In Conclusion

So, why is the fuel filter clogged?  As we said earlier, as many restrictions as there are and as much safety processing is done by fuel companies to make sure the gas in the pumps is clean and safe, debris, dirt, and other small particles will still find their way into your car’s gas tank. The stuff that clogs a fuel filter can come from your gas tank or the gas lines between the tank and the fuel pump and carburetor. If you drive a lot, travel gravel or dirt roads, those particles that clog a fuel filter are there. 

We recommend taking your car to an authorized mechanic for the problems discussed here. The fuel filters inside the gas tank should be left to a trained mechanic. When you need help with a fuel filter in Inglewood, CA, you can contact the L.A. NTX Transmissions team at __PHONE__.