Universal Fuel filters?

I drive a domestic car. My mom drives a '93 Mercedes 190E. Sticker shock set in when I went to price a replacement fuel filter for her which leads me to ask: Is there any real tangable difference (other than the connection fittings) between inline fuel filters for different cars.

I realize some are made of different filter material (cotton, nylon, paper, etc) but do different makes/model cars allow different sized particles through or is it pretty universal? I even see that the filter offered for her car has 3 different price ranges (and of course 3 different warranties1, 3 and 5 years). I assume this is due to the type of screening material used. Am I way off bse here or on to something?


All parts for Mercedes Benz, OEM and aftermarket, are expensive. I think it is more due to the strict requirements MB calls for. If your not used to buying MB parts, sticker shock is common.

Some filters on fuel injected cars are subjected to relatively high pressure (like my '88 Accord @ 40psi) so they need a more substantial housing.

I guess what I am asking is from a more technical standpoint.

BustedKnuckles: I realize the price difference which raised the question. Am I paying more for the name or will a domestic fuel filter with the same fittings work? I once took my Jaguar to the same car wash I had do my Ford and they tried to charge me more. I asked to see the special Jaguar water they were going to use.

circuitsmith: I’m aware of higher pressure used by ALL fuel injected systems (compared to carb. engines). Unless you are saying that MBs use an unusually high pressure, a domestic one with the same fittings should work.

Does anyone know of a reason it wouldn’t?

I think you will find the Benz filter uses unique dimensions and fittings…Replacing the fuel filter with a more common, less expensive part will not be as easy as you think, but it could be done of course…Modern fuel injected cars use filters that must withstand high pressure, 40-60psi…So care must be used when modifying these fuel systems…

For some odd reason (gouging?) the price of filters used on CIS type injection cars has gone up quite a bit over the last few years. About 6 or 7 years ago a filter for my SAAB (CIS and uses the same type of filter) was about 12 dollars at AutoZone. The last one I bought was near 30 dollars and that’s a pretty nasty percentage of price increase.

You really need to stick with the Bosch type filters and odds are you will find that using anything else will require line modifications as many European cars have their own method of attaching the lines to the filter. SAAB, Benz, VW, etc are all different.

The Bosch CIS type systems also work at higher pressures than the FI systems on
domestic and Asian cars. It might be easier to just bite the bullet and buy the filter made for the car.
Just curious, but what kind of sticker shock are you talking about?

I had a 1965 Sumbeam Imp (Made in Scotland). I decided it should have a fuel filter so I stopped at the auto parts store and bought a universal fit filter. It worked well for a while. Then one morning when I was heading out for work, the car stopped accelerating. I looked out the rear view mirror and all I saw were flames. After bailing out, calling the fire department and getting an old rug I got the flames out by the time the fire guys arrived. I was lucky. It turned out the cheap made in some eastern country product had “Made in the US” hoses used to connect the imported filter. It was the us made hoses that caused the problem.

Maybe you can benefit from my loss (it turned out not to expensive to fix). Don’t try to save a $ when you are replacing fuel lines.

Sticker shock? Mercedes is a luxury brand, so you should expect luxury prices on parts. Perhaps you would be happier if you traded it in for a Ford Focus.

TEEJAY2, you’re asking an age old question us parts people have pondered for eternity.
Why not ?
That would have to have been addresssed waaay back at first production but you’d think those silly ‘‘engineers’’ could plan a little simplicity heretofore.

Their answer these days ?


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah :(((

They’re $15- $25 on Rockauto. Not worth messing with the wrong one at that price.

BUT - don’t get the Fram oil filter that somehow ended up listed with the fuel filters.

“circuitsmith: I’m aware of higher pressure used by ALL fuel injected systems”

I didn’t mean to imply that you didn’t know that.
Some filters are BEFORE the pump and therefore not under pressure.

@ok4450-I was getting $35-50 quotes which led me to ask. I finally found some local for less but I thought it was worth asking/discussing.

@circuitsmith-Gotcha. :slight_smile:

Fifty would a bit tough to take on an aftermarket filter. Ouch.

At least you people have a filter you can easily change…

Not too sure how I like this yet with my 4runner. The filter is inside the tank…No problem yet at over 180k miles…But let’s see what happens when I get near 300k miles.

Ken, you know that’s not quite an accurate statement. Many cars today have “self washing” filters designed into the pump assembly. I’ve posted the Toyota drawing of my own as an example.


Would I prefer a replacable filter? Yup. Would most people bother to replace it? Nope.

To the OP, you should use the correct filter. Line pressure does vary, even amongst vehicles, as does the volumetric requirement. A big ol’ Cadillac motor with forced induction needs more fuel than a Nissan Versa. It needs to pass more volume, and it may need to stand up to more pressure.

Regarding the “luxury car” difference, the 190E is really designed as a workhorse vehicle. It’s unfortunate that just because it’s a Mercedes things are so much more expensive. But it is what it is. Fortunately, your mom doesn;t have to put a new filter in every week!

Would I prefer a replacable filter? Yup. Would most people bother to replace it? Nope.

Same here…With a replaceable filter…you are removing the dirt from the fuel system…with the back flush system the dirt is staying in the fuel system. Weather or not that dirt will ever reach the injectors is a question??? But with a replaceable filter I at least know when I replace the filter the dirt is being removed. And I ALWAYS replaced the filter…usually more then recommended.

The thing about never changing a fuel filter is that it only takes one tank of contaminated fuel to at least partially clog a filter. The engine may appear to run perfectly fine with a filter like this but it’s putting a lot of undue stress on the fuel pump.

In most cases, this is what causes premature pump failures.
I liken it to trying to breathe with a tourniquet applied to the neck. Eventually something is going to quit working.