Here’s What Happens if You Don’t Change the Fuel Filter in Your Car

Here’s What Happens if You Don’t Change the Fuel Filter in Your Car

rev up your engines, today I’m gonna talk
about fuel filters in your car and what damage can occur if you don’t change
them and they get clogged up, now fuel filters of course, filter contaminants
out of your fuel so they don’t mess up with your fuel system, and to understand
how they work here’s a little history lesson, when I was a young mechanic in
the sixties all cars had carburetors to make fuel go into the car, and most of
them had a tiny little brass filter like this, that would filter out water and
some impurities you can see it’s just a tiny little metal thing that went in the
front of the carburetor, now the first car I ever had was an Opel, yeah a German
car shocked you doesn’t it, it had such a small gas tank, it was only ten gallon and
it was metal it was rusting out, so I put an inline filter like this to get
rid of some of the crud, because I didn’t have any money to buy a new gas tank, but
even though this is a reasonably sized filter, rust sediments are so small rust
kept getting into the carburetor, and it got so bad that I would take the carburetor
apart all the time to clean the crud that went past the filter, and I didn’t
even have money for a gasket, so I used the Kellogg’s cereal box and I cut the
gasket out and I had a bunch them lying around so I could clean it out put
another gasket in and go down the road realize carburetor system, this is an old
Volkswagen Beetle carburetor, don’t have much pressure, the fuel pump would put
out one and a half pounds pressure or so so dirt could get stuck because there isn’t
that much pressure pushing it through but cars have been fuel-injected for a
long time, they have higher pressure, it can go anywhere from 40 psi up to the
modern GDI engines that can have over 1500 psi pressure, now other cars like
this 94 Toyota Celica, they had fuel filters externally, here it is it’s just
a big canister there’s a bolt on the top and a threaded rod on the bottom and you
replace the fuel filter every 40, 50 thousand miles, now this is a fuel
injector, one that goes on that older one and if you look inside look, at those
tiny holes those are the little tiny holes inside where the fuel sprays into
the engine, you don’t want to clog them up, and many of them have a little screen
just like a tiny mosquito screen on your house window, to keep dirt from getting
into the injectors and if any of them get clogged up, your car is gonna run
poorly, now if your fuel filter gets clogged up it can do two main things, one
it can lower the pressure that goes to the fuel injectors, so if they don’t have
the right amount of pressure they can’t spray the right amount of gas into
the engine, and if it’s clogged up enough, it
can trip a code and turn you check engine light on and when you scan it, it
can say, engine running too lean, well it’s running too lean because it’s
got the normal amount of air coming in unless your air filters clogged up, but
the fuel filters clogged can’t pump enough fuel through, the pressures too low
and then the car will run lean, now eventually running lean can burn out your
Pistons, make your cooling system overheat and ruin the engine, and it can
burn out your catalytic converter by making it run too hot, now testing for a
clogged fuel filter used to be easy in a car, we used to just have pressure gauges
quick install connectors, and on many cars like Ford’s GM’s and Chrysler’s
they had a little Schrader valve just like the valve on your tire, you would
just snap and on and take the pressure to see if there’s any pressure problems
like either too low or too high if the fuel pressure regulator was bad, it was
easy to do, but on most modern cars, hey there’s no such valve, in order to check
the pressure you need a kit with all these adapters, it’s a royal pain in the
butt, here’s some of my adapters I’ve got a
box that’s got three times as many, it’s a real pain taking fuel pressure
readings in a modern car, plus if the fuel filters clogged up sometimes
there’s enough room for the pressure to be high but the volume is low, so when
you’re going at higher speeds it’s just does enough volume and you can’t go fast
and doing a volume pressure test is another real hassle to do, so basically
you want to make sure your filters clean, but here’s the stinker of it on most
modern cars, you can look around all you want under the hood, but you’re not going
to find a fuel filter because guess what, they’ve hidden it away and wherever they
hidden it, they’ve hidden it inside the gas tank, engineers and our questionable
wisdom, have decided it’s more efficient to have the filter right next to the
pump inside the gas tank, well guess what changing it out has become a gigantic
pain in the rear end, now in the case of this Matrix, it’s not that big of a deal
it takes less than half an hour to change the filter, you just take out the
back seat, there’s a little four screw cap that covers over the where the gas
tank is and when you take that cover off, you
get inside gas tank and you can replace the filter assembly, now Toyota calls it
a fuel filter fuel pump assembly and they want six hundred and ninety seven
dollars, but aftermarket you could buy just a filter itself and replace it, but the
old saying out of sight out of mind really fits it here, most people don’t
see it, they don’t think about it and you leave it alone,
but a clogged fuel filter will cause the pump, this is the tiny little pump that
they use in Toyotas, to work too hard then burn out, then you’ll have to
replace the $697 pump and filter assembly, so really you don’t want your
filter to get clogged up, now I have to admit, I live in Houston Texas a giant
city, and all the gas tanks at the gas stations have been dug up and they put
in the fiberglass ones that don’t rust so you don’t get crud in the gasoline
from the tanks rusting and then water intruding in the gasoline, so if you have
a good supply of fuel you really don’t have to worry about it getting clogged
up, but who knows sometimes I’ve seen they made the gas wrong, and then when
people pumped it, the car started to die, the filters started to clog up, there’s all
kinds of things that can happen, water can get in them, you really want to make
sure you have a clean filter, especially if you live in an area where the fuel
quality is questionable, and if you drive a diesel it’s even more important, diesel
believe it or not, there’s fungus that can grow inside
the tank and clog everything up, so you really need a good filter on a diesel
and you need to change it a lot and whatever you do, don’t believe that
nonsense that a lot of the manufacturers say that, oh you don’t have to change the
fuel filter it’s a lifetime fuel filter, well what they mean is, it’s lifetime if
it clogs up and a fuel pump burns out because it’s clogged up, then you get to
replace that $697 assembly and they make a lot of money selling it to you, now you
don’t need to change the filters in the modern car all that often, maybe once
every four or five years or every 60,70 thousand miles, but as you now know it’s
a good idea to keep them clean so if you never want to miss another one
of my new car repair videos, remember to ring that Bell!

About the Author: Michael Flood


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  2. I love these vids, but Scotty is actually Geddy Lee trying to avoid paying a huge tax bill. Morgan Freeman is actually Jimi Hendrix doing the same thing.

  3. I had a Honda accord 2003 model, had it serviced, told them to change fuelfilter aswell, they did not find any! And it was a good mechanic, they also checked on computer.

  4. I have used plastic 2 gallon gas cans for lawn equipment for years. When I would look in the bottom of those cans, often I would find tiny pieces of plastic laying on the bottom of the can.
    The shredded particles is what would shed from the cap. Probably car gas caps shred also !

  5. I have used plastic 2 gallon gas cans for lawn equipment for years. When I would look in the bottom of those cans, often I would find tiny pieces of plastic laying on the bottom of the can.
    The shredded particles is what would shed from the cap. Probably car gas caps shred also !

  6. Wow !! Lots of really good advice!!! Are you related to Joe Pessi Just kidding thx for the video 🙂

  7. Scotty hi, love your channel. What do you think about Kia´s Sportage Revolution Diesel who says in the manual that you must change the diesel filter every 10K kilometers, isn´t that too often? i am changing it every 20K kilometers without issue so far, but what do you think about that?

  8. Started watching socttt’s videos and my head is spinning with all the maintenance needed on a car. Can’t wait till I can get electric and be done with all this crap .

  9. Just changed my fuel filter on my 95 volvo, and it kinda fixed the problem. Apparently it was horrendously full of junk, and since it still has intermittent problems starting, I"m curious if the junk got into the fuel line and is somehow still clogging the line? Or have I burnt out my 2 year fuel pump due to an old filter? Would have been nice to have it suggested to put a new fuel filter in, when they put in a new fuel pump 2 years ago!

  10. Hi Scotty, many thanks to the great videos. I have a 6th Gen Celica GT 2.0. I emailed Toyota for the fuel filter and they replied that the filter is part of the fuel pump assembly ( a flat plastic type ) and sent me one. Then I noticed the metal type (which you pointed to the one in your car in this video), that sits under the air filter assembly. My question is do we need to replace both of them or just the metal type? Advice is much appreciated!

  11. You would overheat your motor long before you burn out a piston and over heating doesn't kill cars Unless you keep going

  12. would a bad fuel filter be the reason why my 4.3 s10 decides to randomly shut off(engine) while driving? I notice low pressure by sound and feel. haven't yet rented a fuel pressure gauge but that will be my next step.

  13. Hi Scotty i have a 2005 toyota rav4 d4d and it has this thing were when you go on a 30 minute trip and turn the car off it won't turn on for 30 minutes and sometimes it says it's getting hot and starts to lose power on small inclines

  14. 130,000 miles later my dodge durango still running normal it does need to be replaced just use good gas

  15. ..I expect rapture end of sep 2019..ask GGOODD ..a verbal it secretly..for a ticket, so not ddiiee..and escape ,a terriibblllee death..see nicles cage movie called left behind..xxoo…if happend posibility 98%… …then 60% 0f worlds, people will ddieee, the next 7 yrs..xxoo..get a ticket and escape deattthhh.. joy peace GGOODD bless all u do…..

  16. ..I expect rapture end of sep 2019..98% possible…ask GGOODD ..a verbal it secretly..for a ticket, so not ddiiee..and escape ,a terriibblllee death..see nicles cage movie called left behind..xxoo…if happend…. posibility 98%… …then 60% of worlds, people will ddieee, the next 7 yrs..xxoo..get a ticket and escape deattthhh.. joy peace GGOODD bless all u do……….xxoo

  17. Unfortunately mine is in the gas tank and require removing the pump; not terrible to remove I guess since you just need to remove the back seat, but still don't want to mess it up just trying to see if it's dirty or replacing it since I've never done it before. Car cranks a few times before starting up, but if I do a quick trip to the local store then come back after shopping it starts up faster. Makes me think it is possibly the filter but not sure if I should change it.

  18. I have a vw golf mk5, 2006, VW told me you never need to change the fuel filter as it's a "life of vehicle part". Any advise anyone? I'm currently at around 60,000 miles

  19. Fungus??? Inside the diesel-tank.. haha..well I don't know what diesel-quality you use in the USA, but here in the Netherlands this wil NEVER happen, believe me. We have one of the highest quality fuel in the world. Fungus..

    Greetings from Holland

  20. A couple of moons back I removed the in-tank fuel pump just out of curiosity to see what the inside of the fuel tank looks like, turns out the fuel tank is very clean no debris whatsoever. btw my car had over 250K miles at the time. So in my opinion here in the good old USA fuel filters may be a waste of resources. We currently own 4 cars that do not have a traditional fuel filter absolutely no fuel issues to date, In 3rd world counties like Sapin Italy, France among others may be a different story.

  21. Scotty, I kept seeing comments that you're a national treasure. Thought they were exaggerating. THANKS SCOTTY!!!! 🙌

  22. ok so. i have a scion xb 05 first gen. they said i do not need to change the fuel filter. and some say its not needed till the pump is dead.

  23. I have a 2004 Toyota Avalon. Knowing that the mfg. does not explicitly suggest replacing or servicing all of the parts that might wear out or fail, I did some research. The manual said that the fuel filter (not just the fuel pump) was in the gas tank. On other cars, I had routinely had in line fuel filters replaced. So, I looked further. Lo and behold, the official manual was wrong! It did have an in-line, out of the gas tank fuel filter. So I bought one and waited until today. Today, I took the car to my service mechanic, not the dealership and not the franchise oil change place. I had the mechanic put the car up on a hoist. Check for leaky seals, grease points, replace the fuel filter, replace the front differential oil and install a new cabin filter. I had replaced the cabin filter myself twice before. At my age, I would now need three hands to do it.

    The car then ran like it was brand new, right out of the repair shop. This is June 4, 2019. That is the only servicing that will be done this calendar year. 106,500 miles. My dad had the same model, 2 years older, a 2002. That car got 240,000 miles before giving up the ghost.

  24. Lol, I also made a gasket cut out of a cardboard box, replacing a brake master cylinder 25 years ago.

  25. Have the 4 afe toyota motor without change the filter for 15 years!!untill yet no problems,but use often injectors fuel cleaner

  26. Hi scotty quick question how do you change the fuel filter from a 2011 mustang v6 ? I can't find it thanks.

  27. In the RAV4 the freaking fuel filter is in the gas tank. How many miles can I run this thing before I absolutely need to change out the whole tank? The car is 12 years old and has about 200k miles. Is there anything that will clean it?

  28. Here in Ohio there's a guy named Radiator Rich who rebuilds fuel pump sending units..he's saved me a crap ton of money.

  29. What a wonderful knowledgeable guy!!! Love it!! And your editing!!!! I will definitely keep watching 👍🏻

  30. I've been driving my 2007 Toyota Yaris for a little over 3 years now…i think its time im gonna have to check it out as well as my 2001 Mercedes Benz S55 AMG.

  31. Another reason to love my Lincoln Town Car, The filter is next to the frame under one of the passenger doors. You don't even have to jack up the car. To connectors and loosen the strap. Done!

  32. Hey am trying to buy a Ford Mustang 2008 but the guy say It shifts in to second hard some times. If you let off the gas it shits soft was told it need filter and fluid changed

  33. Not sure if it’s my fuel filter. I replaced my plugs, wires, switched to synthetic high mileage and replaced the Air filter. But it doesn’t seem like my car accelerates quickly like it should. Say I’m going sixty mph then I floor it, it’s almost like it takes a few seconds to respond then it goes. 4 cylinder ford ranger. 95k miles. I’ve ran sea foam through it a few times. Any suggestions?

  34. Scotty can I put an in-line fuel filter if it doesn’t have one? Do I need to do the quick disconnects or can I just do a clamp style?

  35. I have a strong feeling after replacing multiple parts in my emissions system and still having codes pop up that the fuel filter is at the root of the problem. 308K miles on the car, thinking I should replace the fuel filter now for the first time!!

  36. my original toyota fuel line filter had 115k. on it before it started acting up..wouldn't go above 50mph…put new one in..problem solved. ……mike from minnesota

  37. Yeah, but my nissan – Renault car got in tank fuel filter that not be seperated from the pump. So u need to buy the whole assembly. What were they thinking at nissan engineering?

  38. I have a 2014 versa s and the filter is integrated to the fuel pump canister so you have to change the entire fuel pump.

  39. wath is that tiny filter that shows up on the top right corner at 3:34 ? can someone tell i got one in my car but i dont what its for

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