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How To Tell If Your Fuel Filter Is Bad

How To Tell If Your Fuel Filter Is Bad

The fuel filter in your car is responsible for keeping dirt and debris away from reaching your car's fuel tank. Over time and usage, it gets clogged or dirty, after which your car engine's performance may get affected drastically. The fuel initiated through your car is obstructed, due to which your fuel pump has to work much harder than needed. Normally, the best way to ensure a clean fuel filter is to blow through the filter and see if the air comes out from the other end or not. If not, then it is potentially dirty and needs replacement. Here at, we are going to talk about how to tell if your fuel filter is bad.

You may also be interested in: How to Clean Your Fuel Filter

The engine starts with difficulty

Normally, this is a major sign that indicates that your fuel filter is bad. You may have struggle starting the car's engine, or it does not start at all, which clearly indicates that the fuel filter is too dirty and clogged to function efficiently. Under such situation, the fuel may not even reach the engine, due to which the engine may totally refuse to start.

The engine stops frequently

Even if your car starts, it may stop abruptly while running, especially when you're driving up a steep slope. This indicates that sufficient fuel is not reaching the car's engine to keep operating, thus causing the engine to stall frequently.

Problem with the acceleration

Sometimes, the engine may start, but it may not accelerate, and it behaves funny when you try to press down the accelerator. Sometimes, it may even suffer from slow-down syndrome when you drive at a certain speed. This happens because the engine is not getting enough fuel to run any faster. If that’s the case, no matter how hard you step on the accelerator, the speed does not increase and it remains the same.

Look at your exhaust fume

The exhaust fume coming from your car’s engine may appear cloudy and dark, which indicates that your fuel filter needs cleaning or replacement. You may sense an awful smell coming from your exhaust, which is a sign that your fuel filter is dirty and clogged, and needs to be checked. Frequent misfire may also indicate improper functioning of your fuel filter.

Improper idling

Another symptom of a bad fuel filter is the vehicle jerking or making a stutter sound when idling. This indicates that the car’s engine gets enough fuel while running, but it is inadequate when it has to idle. This is because the fuel filter is not clean enough to deliver an easy idle.


Sometimes, your car may sputter when you drive it at low speed or under conditions when the fuel filter has minimal blockage. This indicates the starting of the fuel filter getting clogged, but if you neglect it, you may need to replace it entirely. So, if you experience any such sputtering, it is better to take it as a first sign of bad fuel filter, and get it corrected immediately.

If you'd like to read similar articles to How To Tell If Your Fuel Filter Is Bad, we recommend you browse around our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

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Edward Wilburn
My car is losing power while driving. And at times at low speeds it cuts off but starts right back with no problem.

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How To Tell If Your Fuel Filter Is Bad
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How To Tell If Your Fuel Filter Is Bad