Regardless of the engine type (traditional or diesel), all vehicles have fuel filters that clean the oil before it reaches the engine. This dirty job makes filters especially vulnerable to debris buildup, and when yours becomes clogged, it helps to see the warning signs and attend to it as soon as possible.
Trouble Starting the Engine
The most common sign of a clogged fuel filter is trouble starting the car, since it depletes the oil supply going to the engine. Although a dirty fuel filter leads to ignition difficulty, a fully-clogged filter will fail completely, and the engine won’t start at all.
If you step on the gas to accelerate but the speed doesn’t change, you probably have a dirty fuel filter.
Frequent Idling and Sputtering
In many instances, the engine will start normally but will shut down when you try to stop. This means enough oil makes it through the filter as you drive but weakens when the car stands idle.
In addition, if the car sputters when you drive at low speeds, the fuel filter likely has a minor blockage–a sign the need for replacement isn’t far ahead.
If your vehicle’s exhaust emits strong fumes, it could be a sign of a dirty fuel filter. It could mean other damaging issues are at play, as well. Whatever the case, foul odors mean you should have a professional take a look as soon as possible.
Engine Misfires/Low Performance
Often, a weakened fuel filter will cause the engine to misfire. In such cases, a quick cleaning can help, but you might also need a full replacement. Also, if fuel efficiency starts to suffer or the engine behaves abnormally/erratically, you might need a new filter.
Note: Even without these symptoms, you can perform a quick quality check on the fuel filter by removing and blowing into it. If air passes through, it’s good to go. If not, it needs replacing.
When to Replace the Fuel Filter
Although the owner’s manual will give you precise details, most manufacturers recommend changing the fuel filter every five years or 50,000 miles. Many mechanics, on the other hand, see this estimate as too extreme and suggest cleaning or replacing it every 10,000 miles. Since this small component has a major responsibility, having it changed regularly should be a top priority.
For all your vehicle’s repair and maintenance needs, remember to call ER Auto Care in Plain City, OH today!