How to Clean Your Fuel Filter
Your car’s fuel filter is responsible for preventing impurities in the fuel (gasoline or diesel) from entering the engine. Impurities from the fuel line can clog your carburetor or fuel injector, so it is important to learn how to clean your fuel filter so that your car keeps working at its best. A dirty fuel filter can cause your engine to not work properly, as the flow of gasoline is restricted. This will cause the car to lose power and responsiveness as it works harder to pull through the dirty fuel. When you have a very dirty fuel filter, your car may not start at all. Read this oneHOWTO article on how to clean your fuel filter so that you can keep a well maintained fuel line and add mileage to your car.
First of all, find your car’s fuel filter. Start with the fuel line which comes out of your carburetor or fuel injector. Trace the fuel line back to reach your fuel filter. There are different types of fuel filter, such as the nylon fuel filter you see in the picture above. This one is see-through so that you can see the condition of the filter through it, however, many are not. The filter usually starts out a yellow or bright orange color, so if you can see the condition of the fuel filter you will know how dirty it is by the darkness of the filter. You can find glass fuel filters, but they are not as common and slightly more dangerous in case they shatter.
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Take some hose clamps and screw them onto the fuel line at a distance of around 4 inches from the filter on both the exit and entrance hoses. Tighten the clamps using a flat-head screwdriver. Close the hose tight using the clamps, so that as little gasoline as possible will escape when you remove the fuel filter. There should be an arrow on the side of the fuel filter telling you which way the fuel flows. If you can't see an arrow, take a picture so that you remember which way it goes when you put it back in.
Ensure you wear suitable eye protection before removing the filter. This is so that you don't get sprayed by any fuel when you remove it. Keep either a jar or a basin underneath the filter as you unscrew the clamps attaching the filter to the hose (obviously not the clamps you have just used to secure the hose). As you unscrew it, pull the hose off the fuel filter and allow any excess gasoline to go into the receptacle. When you remove both hoses, let all the remaining gas drip into it as well. The fuel filter usually comes in a bracket or cradle to hold it in place, so you'll need to carefully push it out. Once you have, let any fuel in the filter come out by holding it over and shaking out any excess gasoline.
Once you have drained the fuel filter of any excess liquid, you can start to clean the dirty fuel filter. If you have an old glass fuel filter, then you can unscrew both ends and clean the individual parts with a rag. However, most fuel filters you will be unable to unscrew, so you will want to flush it out. The best way is to invest in a carburetor cleaner like B-12 chemtool, but ask the store or mechanic if it is suitable for fuel filter cleaning.
The pressurized B-12 chemtool will come with a red straw which you affix to the nozzle. Hold the fuel filter over the jar or basin. Start by spraying the B-12 chemtool into the fuel-in side while the fuel-out side is over the basin. Carefully knock the side of the fuel filter so that any debris is loosened then repeat the spraying. Turn it around so that you spray the fuel-out side with the fuel-in side over the basin, knock the debris loose and repeat. You can use the handle of your screwdriver to knock the dirt and debris loose.
Once you have cleaned the fuel filter as best you can with the B-12 chemtool and you see that less dirt is coming out either end, then set the fuel filter aside so that it can dry out for about an hour.
Replace the fuel filter into the bracket or cradle so that it pops back in, making sue you have it the right way round according to the arrow or picture. Insert the fuel line hose back onto the in and out nozzles of the fuel filter and screw the clamps tight with a flat-head screwdriver. Unscrew the clamps which were securing the fuel line only once the other clamps have been tightened properly.
Replacing your fuel filter is important, but it is not expensive. If you don’t want to clean it, you can purchase a replacement quite cheaply. This should be done at least every 100, 000 miles, regardless of how many times you have cleaned the fuel filter.
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