Bad fuel filter: 5 critical symptoms [2023]

Every car you see on the road has a fuel filter which is an integral part of a car's unit. However, the presence of a bad fuel filter can lead to several car problems. Most times, the filter is ignored when a car starts having mechanical issues and is diagnosed.

Unfortunately, the filter that is overlooked can be the cause of the car's issues. The fuel that powers the car engine must go through the fuel filter. It is this fuel filter that protects the fuel injection system from debris.

After a while, the filter loses the ability to protect the fuel injection system. When it happens, your filter needs a change or needs cleaning. All the debris it has been collecting over time will make it less effective and can go as bad s preventing your car from starting. In this article, you learn about a fuel filter and the symptoms of a bad one.

What is a fuel filter?

fuel filter

A fuel filter is a strainer or filter in a fuel unit that screens out dirt from the fuel. Afterwhich it puts the dirt into a filter paper. An unfiltered fuel contains different kinds of dirt, which comes in contact with the fuel system it causes a failure of the fuel pump and injectors. Fuel filters help improve a car's performance because the fewer the dirt in the fuel, the faster it can be burnt by a car's engine.

Maintaining a filter works by replacing it with a new one or cleaning it, as the case presents itself. A filter gets clogged when it goes bad and causes a limitation in the fuel flow, which leads to a drop in the car's engine's performance. To understand the inline fuel filter, I have written a comprehensive article on it, you should check it out.

Symptoms of a bad fuel filter

bad fuel filter

If you notice any of the symptoms listed below, then it means it is time to get your filter cleaned or changed.

  1. Engine misfires

Most times, engine misfires can be from other car faults. But in some other cases, it may affect the car when it is going up a high platform or when the car is overloaded. This scenario happens because the filter restricts the amount of fuel going into the fuel injectors, causing engine misfires. A bad filter does not cause regular engine misfires, but regular engine misfires are caused by bad spark plugs, failing engine sensors, a bad fuel pressure regulator, damaged ignition coils, etc.,

  1. Absence of engine power

A bad filter creates room for dirt in the fuel. Dirt in the fuel unit can knock an engine dead. Also, a filter stops fuel from getting to the fuel injectors. The ECU will restrict the engine output to protect the engine, and in this mode, you will see a 'check engine' light on the car's dashboard unit. Other things that can lead to the absence of engine power are a dead battery, a bad fuel pressure regulator, a damaged alternator, a bad ignition system, a faulty spark plug, etc.

  1. Lack of acceleration
Poor acceleration

When you step on the gas pedal to accelerate the car to go faster, and the speed does not change, your filter is bad. A car with zero faults will pick up in acceleration once the pressure hits the pedal.Lack of acceleration can be frustrating when you need to be on speed, and your car seems to do the opposite. Other factors that can cause a deceleration in a car are a faulty fuel injector, a faulty fuel pressure regulator, etc.

  1. A strong smell from the exhaust
Strong exhaust smell

Here, a strong smell refers to bad fumes. The smell that comes from a car's exhaust pipe should be natural and not choky. A bad filter results in the emission of bad choking fumes from the exhaust. Choking fumes are hazardous to one's health when breathed into the lungs, and it is also a sign that the car needs immediate maintenance.

  1. Lack of fuel economy

When the filter clogs, it prevents the fuel from getting to the combustion chambers, so the engine, in turn, demands more fuel to work effectively. When the fuel injectors don't send enough fuel to the engine, they have to work twice as hard. In turn, this wears out the engine and knocks it dead after some time.

When should I replace a bad fuel filter?

Fuel filter replacement

Your car owner's manual should be able to tell you how long the filter can last, but if it doesn't, no problem. Car manufacturers advise that you replace the filter after every five years or after 50,000 miles. So, if your car has run for more than five years without a filter replacement, it is time to do so.Although

Manufacturers advise this, many auto-mechanics do not subscribe to changing it after 50,000 miles. They rather advise that you should replace the filter in a car after 10,000 miles.Whoever you decide to adhere to is totally up to you. But it is important to have your filter properly cleaned or changed if any of the symptoms listed above pops up in your car.

Replacing the filter should be urgent because ignoring it can lead to further damages to the engine. You can read this article to learn how to replace a fuel filter.

What happens if I don't change a bad filter?

Without a good engine, your car cannot move. However, an attack on a car's filter will be dangerous do not ignore it. When your engine begins to malfunction,  error lights show up on the dashboard as a warning signal to the car owner. To avoid getting your car engine to this state, you should consider changing the filter when it is bad.If a bad filter is left without repairs or replacement, it will inadvertently affect the fuel injectors.

The injectors will become clogged and, in turn, inject dirty fuel to the carburetor causing serious damages to the engine.To avoid straining your engine, we advise that you change or clean the fuel filters at least twice a year. This is necessary if you use your car to commute every day. This way, it does not clog up, and it works and performs optimally.

How much does it cost to replace a bad fuel filter?

Fuel filters are affordable and cost between $10 and $35 for an original and high-performance filter. A  filter that cannot be fixed is found in the fuel tank of a car. These types are more expensive and are also difficult to change.Replacing a bad filter in your car can cost between $100 and $120 for an inline filter. And to replace a filter in the fuel tank with a professional's help can cost between $180 and $200.

Key Takeaway

  • Filtering is important in every component, and so it is no different in a car.
  • To this end, the filter is present to ensure that no dirt gets into the fuel system.
  • If your car has a bad filter and exhibiting these symptoms above, it needs an urgent replacement.
  • To avoid further issues in your car, always pay attention to any changes and immediately take your car for repairs.

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