Fuel filters are a common service component that is found on virtually all vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines. Their purpose is to filter out any particles that may be present in the fuel, keeping them from entering the vehicle’s fuel system and potentially damaging the components or the engine. As is the case with most automotive filters, over time the fuel filter can become excessively dirty, to the point where it can no longer filter out particles efficiently, and sometimes even to the point of restricting flow. Usually a faulty fuel filter will produce a few symptoms that can alert the driver of an issue with the vehicle.

1. Car is hard to start

One of the first symptoms commonly associated with a bad or failing fuel filter is hard starting. A clogged fuel filter may restrict the fuel system flow, which can cause the vehicle to experience hard starting. This is more likely if the filter that is on the vehicle has never been changed.

2. Engine misfires or decrease in power and acceleration

Another common symptom of a problem with the fuel filter is engine performance issues. Sometimes the fuel filter can become clogged to the point where it negatively affects engine performance. A severely dirty or clogged fuel filter can cause the vehicle to experience misfires, a decrease in power and acceleration, and even stalling.

3. Check Engine Light comes on

A bad fuel filter can also cause the Check Engine Light to come on. Some vehicles come equipped with fuel pressure sensors that monitor the pressure of the overall fuel system. A clogged fuel filter may cause low pressure, which if detected by the sensor, will set off the Check Engine Light to alert the driver of the issue. The Check Engine Light can also be set off by a wide variety of other issues, so having the computer scanned for trouble codes is highly recommended.

Most fuel filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to change. If you suspect that your vehicle’s fuel filter may need to be replaced, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if the component should be replaced.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Fuel Filter and was authored by Eduardo Ruelas.


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