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Importance of a Fuel Filter and When to Change It

change your car fuel filterThe fuel filter is essential for optimal engine performance and just like most components in your vehicle, requires regular maintenance. The gas that is put in your vehicle is used to power the engine. However, contaminants such as dirt, debris, and other particulates within the gas can harm your vehicle’s engine. The fuel filter is designed to filter out such impurities before it enters the engine, so that your engine is utilizing only pure gasoline. Over time, however, the fuel filter can become clogged and dirty with particulate matter.

If your vehicle begins showing symptoms such as decreased power when towing or going uphill, rough starts, shuddering idles, sluggish acceleration, or a hesitation from the engine in response to pressing the gas pedal, it may be time to have your fuel system inspected by a professional, as this is your vehicle’s response to inefficient fuel delivery.

Newer vehicles are equipped with a filter located inside the gas tank and is only replaced when the fuel pump assembly is changed. Today’s vehicles differ vastly from those of the past by improvements to fuel injectors and fuel systems. Consequently, these improvements make fuel injectors more sensitive to debris, which clog passages and cause damage to the injector. Damage to injectors results in a change in the release of fuel from a spray to a weak drip, affecting the combustion process. In the past, replacing the fuel filter was recommended every 20,000 – 30,000 miles. However, with improvements to fuels and today’s vehicles, filters can be replaced every 60,000 miles. Be sure to consult your vehicle manual or speak to a trusted mechanic to determine the ideal time to replace your fuel filter.

Maintain Your Fuel System

Maintaining your vehicle with oil changes and the occasional fluid flush is vital to your vehicle’s performance but don’t discount the importance of a 4 Step Fuel System Cleaning. This cleaning, performed every 30,000 miles or so, will help to ensure you get the most out of your vehicle’s fuel system, to keep your engine performing like new. Here’s what you can expect during a cleaning:

  • Engine Decarbon – Removes deposits by breaking up the carbon in the engine from the pistons, valves, and intake. Carbon removal allows the valves to work correctly. Thus, creating maximum compression increasing the absorption of fuel.
  • Fuel Injection Service – Cleans the small needle or ball and seat of the injector to ensure optimal spray for engine combustion. When the vehicle is not running, fuel puddles in the injector creating excess fuel deposits. This service cleans and removes the deposits.
  • Throttle Body Service – The throttle body is a butterfly valve located between the air intake filter and the intake manifold and opens or closes, allowing air into the engine, based on the speed determined by the vehicle driver by pressing the accelerator.Fuel varnish builds up in the throttle body allowing the butterfly valve to remain slightly open, affecting the idle and decreasing overall fuel economy.
  • Fuel Tank Additive – Added to the fuel tank to remove moisture. Gas naturally contain a small amount of water. The additive continues to clean the system even after the cleaning is performed, ensuring your fuel continues to reduce water within the tank.

While in some cases performing do-it-yourself services can save you money, do not attempt to perform a throttle body service or engine decarb on your own. Doing so could severely damage your engine, engine components, or vehicle performance.

If your vehicle experiences a decrease in power, a rough idle, or feels sluggish, don’t hesitate to bring your vehicle in to Sun Auto Service in Nevada or Texas for an inspection of the fuel system. Whether your vehicle is in need of a new fuel filter or a 4-Step Fuel System Cleaning, our ASE Certified Technicians are equipped to provide the service your vehicle needs most. We guarantee all our work with a written warranty and in most cases, offer same-day service. You’ll be back on the road confident that your vehicle’s engine is running optimally and utilizing fuel in the most efficient manner.