How to Clean A Car Fuel Filter

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The fuel filter prevents dirt from entering the car’s engine. If you have a car, you must clean the fuel filter routine-wise. Otherwise, dirt will enter the engine and ruin the engine. Car fuel filters are made of paper or cloth fiber, or metal. If it is paper, then the filter has to be replaced during cleaning. And you can reuse the metal fuel filter after cleaning. Since a fuel filter is a vital part of your car, you must know how to clean a car fuel filter.

How to clean a fuel filter Step by Step

Cleaning a fuel filter can cost you around 50 to 150 dollars in total. Here, the parts of the fuel filter cost between 50 to 100 dollars. The rest is taken as workers’ wages. It would take about an hour to clean the entire fuel filter.

Necessary Fundamental Tools

  • Fluid catch pan.
  • Protective gloves.
  • Ratchet set (ratchet, sockets, and extensions)
  • Repair manual.
  • Safety glasses.
  • Wheel chocks.

Necessary Optional Tools

  • Fuel pressure gauge 
  • Jack and jack stands

Steps on Cleaning A Fuel Filter

Cleaning the fuel filter is very important. It is fundamental to follow every step here. Because the car engine is connected to the fuel filter, any mistake can cause your car’s engine problems.

  1. Release the fuel filter pressure: At first, find the fuse that controls the car’s fuel pump. You have to do this from the very beginning. Turn on the car engine for two minutes after removing the fuse. You will hear a fuss within two minutes. This fuss sound means the pressure is released. Then stop the car engine.
  2. Disconnect Negative Terminal: Find out the negative terminal of your battery. Remove the cable of the terminal with a wrench. The negative terminal is signed negative and colored black. 

Since we need the negative terminal, select the black terminal and remove the cable from there. As a result, the negative terminal will be disconnected. If you skip this step, then gas fumes can cause fires.

  • Trace the Filter: Now, you need to find the fuel filter. It is not possible to say the location of the filter. The location of the fuel filter varies according to the vehicle. Fuel filters are installed in different places in each vehicle. 

So, you have to find it yourself. But it is not a difficult task. Once you check the vehicle’s manual, you will understand where the filter is.

  • Jack Up the Vehicle: You have to jack up your car to remove the fuel filter. It is not an easy task. Jacks cannot be installed anywhere in the car. Each car has a separate part of placing the jack. We don’t think that you will get the place from the manual. We recommend talking with an expert about this. If you have previous experience, then it is okay.
  • If you find the perfect place to jack your car, then you should lift the car. 
  • Don’t jack the car alone. It is a risky job. 
  • Lift the car very well with the jack stand. 
  • Before entering the bottom of the car, check that the car is appropriately elevated.
  • Disconnect Fuel Line: When disconnecting the car fuel line, a lot of fuel will leak. We can’t say precisely how much fuel will leak from here. So, we suggest taking a container under the fuel line. 
  • If the fuel lines are attached with clips, disconnect them by hand; otherwise, use a screwdriver.
  • The fuel line is additionally fitted to the nozzles. You may need a wrench to loosen it.
  • When you disconnect the line entirely, the rest of the fuel will leak.
  • Disconnect Fuel Filter: Now it’s time to disconnect the fuel filter. Do not rush to disconnect the filter. Take a photo of the filter before disconnecting. This picture will help you to reconnect the fuel filter again.
  • Read the manual first. 
  • Find out the brackets and bolts.
  • Then loosen the bolts carefully.

Never pull the fuel filter when you discover it. The fuel filter is installed in a very secure way. So be very careful to disconnect the filter.

  • Clean the Filter: First, you have to take out all the fuel from the gas filter and store the fuel in a bucket. Bringing out the fuel is the first step in this part. Nozzles may also have some fuel. They have to be brought out by tapping. 

Another important thing you must check is whether the fuel filter is made of metal or paper. If it is metal, you can clean the filter. And if it is paper, it has to be replaced anew.

  • Remove the fuel from the filter.
  • Buy a good cleaner from an automotive store.
  • Spray the filter in the nozzle with a pressurized can cleaner.
  • Knock the filter so that the dirt comes out quickly.
  • It takes almost one hour to clean the fuel filter thoroughly.
  • Leave the filter for a while to dry.

Leave the fuel filter to dry for at least 1 hour. If the filter is not dried correctly, it can contaminate the fuel again. 

  • Reconnect the Filter: You do all the steps means the vehicle’s fuel filter is adequately cleaned. Now you have to reconnect the filter in the same place. Re-fit the filter securely from where you opened it. We asked you to take a picture before. If you have the picture, then follow the image.
  • Slide the filter and place it into the bracket. 
  • After positioning the filter, screw the bolts to secure it.

The fuel line that you disconnected now needs to be installed. 

  • Connect the fuel lines back into the nozzles. 
  • Use a screwdriver and other tools to fit it tightly to restrain leaks.
  • Then connect the lines with the clips securely.
  • Lower the Vehicle and Displace the Jack Stand: Ensure the fuel filter and fuel line are correctly and tightly connected. Now you need to get out from under the car. 
  • At first, you have to remove the stands. Then, higher the jack to dispel the stands.
  • Get out from under the car.
  • Lower your car slowly.
  1.  Connect the Battery and Fuse: You may remember that we disconnected the negative terminal of the battery in the beginning. We also removed the fuse of the fuel pump. Now, we need to connect both of them.
  2. We should connect the negative terminal with a cable. 
  3. Use a wrench to connect the cable. 
  4. Also, connect the fuse you removed at the beginning.
  1.  Restart Engine and Check the Fuel Leaks: Check the fuel lines and fuel filter again. It would be best if you did not skip this section. Now, start the engine. Keep the engine running for two to three minutes. If the fuse is not fitted correctly, the engine will not start. 
  2. So, if the engine does not run after starting, recheck the fuse line and connect it properly.
  3. If you find any leaks, disconnect the battery and check the fuel lines. 
  4. Tighten the fuel lines properly. 
  5. Again, connect the battery and start the engine.

If all of this troubleshooting is not working, then you should call a mechanic. And if all goes well, you can take off your gloves. 

  1.   Last but Not in the List: Check the fuel you stored while opening the filter. If the fuel in the filter is not dirty, you can reuse it. And if the fuel is not in a condition to be reused, discard the fuel. As far as I know, debris fuel is not easy to recycle. Bring new fuel to fill up the fuel filter.

You should not dump abandoned fuel around the house or on the street at all. You have to take this fuel to a disposal center. If you don’t have any idea about the location of the disposal center, call an automotive store. Maybe they can dispose of the fuel.

You should not throw this fuel in the trash at all. It is illegal and can occur in a critical accident. As long as you clean the fuel filter, don’t light a cigarette or a fire nearby.


Can I wash a fuel filter?

Ans. A fuel filter prevents debris from entering your car’s engine. So, it is essential to change or clean it. You need to replace the paper fuel filter. And the metal fuel filter you can clean and reuse.

How do I understand a bad fuel filter?

Ans. There are some specific problems you find with a bad fuel filter –

  • Hard to start the engine.
  • Inappropriate acceleration.
  • High engine temperature.
  • Decreased fuel efficiency.

Can I replace the fuel filter myself?

Ans. If you follow the steps of this article, you can clean the fuel filter yourself. But we suggest calling a mechanic to replace the fuel filter. Without an expert hand, it is a hard job to do.

How much does it cost to clean a fuel filter?

Ans. It costs you between 50 to 170 dollars. The cost of labor and the cost of parts are different. Parts costs range from 45 to 100 dollars.

How often should the fuel filter be cleaned?

Ans. You should clean the fuel filter at least every 100 000 miles.


Cleaning or replacing a fuel filter is vital. The engine of the car is the heart of the car. Problems with this engine affect the entire vehicle system. There is no substitute for cleaning the fuel filter to keep the engine running. So, you must know how to clean a fuel filter. It does not cost much. Typically, you should clean the filter after a long time. 

You must change or clean a fuel filter after every 100,000 miles. If you don’t want to clean, you can replace the fuel filter at a low price. Always try to keep the fuel filter clean after the specified time. This will keep the engine good, and the chances of engine failure will be meager.