Fuel Filter



Recently a friend talked me into getting my fuel injectors cleaned and a new fuel filter installed. Since then my 2002 Chevy Suburban has had a problem every time the engine revs over 2500rpm. It starts to hitch and then stalls. Needless to say, this is a fairly nasty habit for it to have when I?m passing someone at 70mph on the highway. When this happens I pull over and it starts immediately. Sometimes the ?low fuel? light is on when this happens but not always. I never had a problem before the fuel injectors were cleaned. I took my truck back to the place that did the service and they said they had installed the wrong filter. They put a new one in and sent me on my way. However, my truck still has the same problem. It still hitches and stalls when it is asked to do anything that requires even a little extra power. Thoughts? Do you think I still have the wrong fuel filter? Could something else be causing this?


Your truck has enough mileage that it’s time for fresh spark plugs and wires. Weak spark can cause the same things as weak fuel.


You just learned the reason behind the mechanic’s maxim: “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”. A service adviser at my dealer told me years ago that if you are not experiencing fuel delivery problems (hesitation, stalling, bucking) that you should leave the fuel filter alone on a fuel injected vehicle. My minivan with 223,000 miles has the original factory fuel filter (so be quiet all you naysayers).

Now what will happen is all the naysayers will come out of the wood work to talk about how you should replace your fuel filter every 60,000 miles or some such nonsense.


Bloody knuckles’ philosophy would seem to be “drive it 'til it breaks” then walk to the mechanic. If the filter is the same quality (size and porosity) and there is no added restriction caused by the process of replacement, there is no reason not to replace an old filter. Most fuel today is well filtered at the pump unless you frequent cheap, off-brand stations with older equipment. Since the electric pumps deliver a constant (and excessive) amount of fuel which is bled off the fuel rail, volume is perhaps less important than with the older diaphragm pumps, and filters are high capacity which gives a lot of room for trapping debris.

So use a name brand filter and make sure your mechanic knows how to change it. You might check for a twisted or bent fuel line causing restriction at the filter area. Something ain’t right, and it’s not likely the filter. You can also check pump pressure to make sure you aren’t getting a failing fuel pump at the same time.


What year is your van?

I bet you have one of the newer ones with the single fuel supply line to the fuel rail. These systems only filter fuel at the rate that the engine is burning it.

The more traditional fuel systems (such as the suburban in question) pump excess fuel to the fuel rail, and by-pass a large volume back to the tank through the regulator. These systems filter a significantly larger volume of fuel, requing more frequent filter changes; which can be as often as 30k.


Someone told me today that the fuel filter could be in backwards. Is that possible? Would that cause these symptoms? By the way,it is getting worse. Now if it sits on any sort of hill, nose down, for more than an hour or so it won’t start. Turns over and acts like it is out of gas until i crank it a few times. Then it starts and runs like a charm, although it hitches when asked to do anything more than an average stroll down the road. i know, i know…take it in and have it checked… i’m just not looking to have someone replace every tom, dick, and harry thing if it is just a bad fuel filter.


You need to get a fuel pressure gauge on this truck. It could be the pressure is low or bleeding off.

If the pressure is low then it could be the pump is failing, if the pressure is bleeding off it could be a defective pressure regulator or the check valve in the tank has failed.


There should be an arrow on the fuel filter indicating the direction of flow. It is possible to install these backwards.


OK. how about this… could the catalytic converter be plugged?


You were right on the money. had it pressure tested today and the fuel pump is failing. thanks for the advice.