Does a 1997 Toyota Corolla need a fuel filter change?


#1

Hi,

The question in the subject line is my dilemma.

I called a shop to ask how much to have a fuel filter changed. I was told that for most cars it’s $70, but for my Toyota Corolla 1997 (97k, stick shift; manual! windows, base model) it would cost $130, because it requires one hour or so of labor to do the job.

Then I called Toyota dealership. Here I’m told that for my model it’s not necessary to change the fuel filter for the life of the car. So, who’s right here? Did the dealership say that based on the manufacturer’s recommendation (I don’t have a manual, unfortunately) or hoping that my car will die soon so I come to shop again or did the shop tell me to change it in order to get my business (they said the fuel filter should be changed every 2 years; if not changed it would put more pressure on the fuel pump, etc.)?

Who do I listen to?

Oh, I called an idependent mechanic from the cartalk’s mechanic files, and the guy says he’d change for $100. When I asked him whom I should consult more about this, he said that he’d follow manufacturer’s recommendation.



One more question. I think that the coolant might be leaking because in the morning, I checked and it was empty (and saw some spots under the car), but when I opened the radiator it’s full to the top. Do I have to fill up the antifreeze/coolant canister to “Full” or “Low” mark, too? Corolla’s AC has been dead, though heating works, if it matters for my questions.



Thanks


#2

Follow the owners manual for filter replacement intervals. I find it hard to believe that the filter is good for the life of the vehicle.

I have run into some Toyota’s where the fuel filter is not very accessible, so it could cost $100 or more to replace.


#3

It is indeed possible the fuel filter needs no regular replacement. The factory service manual for my '95 Dodge also says the fuel filter needs no service for the life of the car. In fact, my car still has its original fuel filter. I’m not saying this is a good idea; I’m only reporting what’s in the official handbook.


#4

For my friend’s 1997 Camry, the factory recommends no fuel filter change for the life of the car. So I’m sure that part is true. We changed it anyway but it was not particularly easy.


#5

Every car which has an external (to the fuel tank) fuel filter needs to changed at intervals. The recommendation is EVERY 30,000 miles. This is PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE. Details of changing the filter are at www.autozone.com. The filter is in the engine compartment, below the brake master cylinder. It might challenge a novice mechanic. Price of the filter is $20 before “markups”.


#6

A fuel filter should be changed approximately every 30k miles unless a contaminated fuel filter is suspected, and in this case more often than that.

Some fuel filters have become difficult and pricy to change. Don’t blame the shop or mechanic - point the finger at the car maker.

The “lifetime” fuel filter is just one more way of car makers giving the impression their vehicles are near maintenance free.

For what it’s worth, a partially clogged filter may not even have an affect on engine performance, but can shorten the life of the fuel pump.
The factory does not care because by the time the pump goes out the car is generally out of warranty.


#7

I have a 1996 Toyota Tercel. The fuel filter is mounted on the firewall. I checked with the local Toyota dealer and I was told that the filter is oversized and needs no replacement unless there is unusual circumstances, such as contaminated gas. I removed the filter, looked at the screen and reinstalled. My car has 170,000 miles.


#8

How do you check a screen inside the filter?

Most filters are oversized and that’s really got nothing to do with it.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of pulling a filter then why not just replace it?

I don’t know how you’re checking this filter (a visual??? is not the answer), but the filter has to be dumped completely of gas and allowed to sit for a half hour at least.
Once it’s thoroughly dried out, then try blowing through it. You should be able to blow freely through a good filter. If you cannot, then that filter is clogged.


#9

Mine is inside the tank. It will cost me about $300.00 just to change the filter. How stupid and dumb are the engineers to put it there instead of anywhere else?


#10

2000 Dodge dakota also has the fuel filter in the tank and the manual says no need to change unless problems are encountered. I would prefer to have a filter that could be replaced. I do most regular mainteance myself.


#11

Well Gollee,
gas filter…
sounds fine to me…“if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
coolant expansion tank will fluctuate but if
my radiator was staying full and car not overheating
don’t think I’d worry. > BUT it’s YOUR $ <


#12

A little clarification is in order here. Your car has two filters or even a little more; see as follows. The first line of defense is the filter sock over the gasoline intake inside the tank. The second line of defense is the permanent field magnets inside the pump motor, also inside the tank. The permanent field magnets will stop any ferrous metal that might be in your gasoline. I have disassembled a motor and found debris magnetically stuck to the magnets. The third line of defense is the replaceable filter either near your tank or inside the engine compartment. It seems reasonable to me that some mfrs will specify no filter change because of the filter sock and gas station pump filters.

There is also a filter at the gas station pump. It may be open to question, however, if these are maintained properly. Any gas station people out there?


#13

One difference will be that the fuel tank sock, or strainer is considerably coarser than the after pump main filter. The strainer is only going to catch the bigger particles and allow the smaller ones on through.

The even tinier particles the main filter does not catch will either get caught in the tiny screen that is inside the injector or go on into the cylinder where it will be vaporized and blown out the exhaust.


#14

The third line of defense is the replaceable filter either near your tank or inside the engine compartment. It seems reasonable to me that some mfrs will specify no filter change because of the filter sock and gas station pump filters.

There is also a filter at the gas station pump. It may be open to question, however, if these are maintained properly. Any gas station people out there?

Not ALL cars have an external gas filter. Toyota seems to be one manufacturer that has decided it’s NOT needed. My 4-runner does NOT have an external fuel filter.

And personally I’m not that fond of this design. Every filter I changed on my Pathfinder or my wifes Accord was FILTHY when I replaced it. And I change it more often then what is recommended. Besides premature pump failures there’s a chance for clogged injectors. A fuel filter is NOT that difficult to design in. One of my summer projects is to look into adding an external filter to the 4-runner.