Most car owners know how important it is to get timely oil changes and to regularly check their tire pressure, but replacing their fuel filters is somewhat of an afterthought.
Fuel filters serve a vital function in a car’s operation. They help keep your fuel system clean, blocking impurities and debris from reaching your fuel pump. A dirty fuel filter can seriously hamper your car’s performance by reducing gas mileage and putting stress on your fuel system.
Since fuel filter maintenance is so crucial, you need to know when to change them.
How Often Should You Change Fuel Filters?
There are two main types of fuel filters. In-tank fuel filters reside in your gas tank and racing fuel filters are part of the fuel line.
Most mechanics recommend changing your inline fuel filter every 20,000-40,000 miles while in-tank filters can last for 100,000 miles.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average American drives around 14,000 miles per year. So, on average, you’re looking at getting a new inline fuel filter once every two or three years or a new in-tank filter once every seven years.
Signs of a Dirty Fuel Filter
There are a number of symptoms of a dirty fuel filter. Some are obvious, but others are more subtle.
Rough idling is characterized by shaking and rattling when your car is stopped. It’s one of the most apparent signs of issues with your fuel system and is nearly impossible to ignore.
Hard starting refers to a car having difficulties starting up. You’ll hear the engine crank several times before ignition, though sometimes it may not start at all. This can be a sign of a number of different issues, but an old fuel can cause this to occur.
Lack of Power
If you notice your car just doesn’t drive like it used to, it’s likely time to replace your fuel filter. You may not spot this straight away, but you will notice it if you continue to drive with a dirty fuel filter.
Worsening Fuel Economy
This is perhaps the most subtle sign of a dirty fuel filter. Old fuel filters seldom have a drastic effect on fuel economy. However, if you notice that you’re not getting quite as far on a tank of gas, your fuel filter is a likely culprit.
Fuel Filter Replacement
Fortunately, fuel filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace.
If you have a mechanic replace your fuel filter, it’ll cost around $100 on average including parts and labor. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can save a little bit of money buying a filter from an auto parts store and replacing it on your own.
Don’t Neglect Your Fuel Filters
Fuel filters are integral to the operation of your car. They remove impurities from gasoline which helps keep your car’s fuel system in working order.
If you use an inline filter, remember to replace it once every 20,000 to 40,000 miles. If your car has an in-tank filter, it needs to be replaced after 100,000 miles.
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