Fuel filter change frequency


#1

On another thread here, someone’s truck died while driving down the road, apparently from a totally clogged fuel filter. The poster didn’t say how many miles the truck had on it, but it was a 1999 model year.

Question: how often have the pros here seen that failure mode? I’ve been driving 20+ years and never changed a fuel filter, and never burned out a fuel pump. So I’m just wondering how common a clogged fuel filter is ( to the point that the engine dies).

I’ve heard of getting sediment in one’s gas tank by fueling up just after the tanker truck has filled the station’s tanks, stirring up sediment. How else does one get a totally clogged filter, except by sabotage? And don’t the station’s pumps also have filters?


#2

We drove our 1994 Nissan Sentra till last year and never changed the fuel filter. No problems. I agree that if you get contamination in the tank, the filter can clogg. Avoid old, delapidated service stations and tank at a high volume reputable station.


#3

The recommended filter change for my 98 Pathfinder was ever 30k miles. I changed it every 15k miles and it was filthy.

There is no set interval. It all depends on the gas stations you visit.

I would use the recommended change as worse case scenario.


#4

Look in the manual for your car, mine model years 02 and 03 every 30k, 04-09 they went to a filter sock in the tanks, and no change indicated for the newer years. Model make and year specific.


#5

Since residing here in San Jose Calif I always have used the same named-brand gas station (ARCO in my case, which is priced pretty competitively with the discount stations),have never experience fuel system problems, and have never changed the Corolla’s fuel filter in 20 years. Not sure if that is due to Toyota’s fuel system robustness, or to the gasoline.

When I lived in Colorado with a late 70’s VW Rabbit I just purchased gas where it was cheapest, often at small one-pump discount stations. The CIS system on those Rabbits is very sensitive to dirt and sand in the gasoline, so I changed the fuel filter ever 6-12 months. And it was very dirty each time. I’m planning to change the fuel filter on the 20 year old Corolla this spring in advance of a required DMV emission test, so I’ll be able to report how dirty 20 years and 200K of driving with name brand gasoline has made it…


#6

I happened to be buying gasoline at two different gas stations a few years apart while someone had one of the pumps opened up for service. Both were nationally recognized brands and both had a filter that appeared similar to a spin-on engine oil filter.


#7

In 50 years I’ve never had a clogged filter. Normal replacement is somewhere in the 20-30K range. I don’t believe my Acura even has one and I know my Pontiac doesn’t. At least not one you can buy and change.


#8

I used to change fuel filters all the time when I owned vehicles with carburetors. It was a small filter in the inlet of the carburetor and they did plug up on occasion. Since fuel injection came along…I haven’t changed a single fuel filter on any of my vehicles.


#9
In 50 years I've never had a clogged filter. Normal replacement is somewhere in the 20-30K range.

You must have never owned a carburated GM vehicle then. Ever see the gas filter for those carbs. The one’s that’s built into the carb. It’s only 1" long and MAYBE 1/2" wide. They were common to clog. I finally got tired of it…and removed that filter and cut the fuel line and added a good Fram F1 fuel filter. It was about 5 times the size.


#10

I’ve seen a lot of clogged filters and a clogged filter may or may not provide a noticeable symptom unless it gets really bad.

I’ve also seen more than one car towed because of this, fuel pumps suffering an early death, and some irate people hot over the fact that any fuel system issues which caused problems or getting stranded were not covered by warranty.

At a dealer where I worked, a salesman left the lot one day in a dealer demonstrator and not many minutes later came walking back to the lot; leaving the car alongside the curb about 3 blocks away. It was towed in and the filter was found to be badly clogged; and that car only had 400 miles on it from new.


#11

@MikeinNH Yep had lots of carbed GM cars with the filters in the carb. Never had a clogged one but I would change the filters as a part of regular maintenance.


#12

@Bing
I had one carb filter In a Chevy truck I 'm sure had some sediment in the tank. I hated it. I couldn’t go anywhere without a spare in the glove box. It was really tiny. It would go a few months but you didn’t want to be stuck out in the woods when it decided to clog. I gave it a year, then put a much larger inline filter. It lasted till I traded the truck two years later. Years later, I am very much appreciative how much cleaner gas is. Filters are just routine maintenance and not in a time of need. But the filter along with the poor mileage the column shift linkage which jammed embarrassingly In traffic a few times…all made me rethink owning Chevy trucks for a few years.

IMHO, one of the biggest aids for gas filters was the inclusion of inside locking gas flaps.


#13

I always changed my filters periodically during routine maintenance on my carbureted cars. My ol’ '79 and '89 Toyota pickups, both carbureted, both had in line filters that were a PITA to change. They were located in an impossible spot in the right side wheelwells.