How to Replace Your Car’s Fuel Filter

When your vehicle needs a new fuel filter, save money by doing the job yourself. Here's how.

Next Project


Vehicle fuel systems have several important components that keep engines purring. Replacing these components when needed can mean the difference between a smooth driving experience and being stranded on the side of the road. The fuel filter is one of these components.

Although a growing number of late–model vehicles no longer have accessible fuel filters, enough older models still do that they're worth knowing about. Designed to keep dirt, rust, paint chips and other fuel contaminants from entering fuel injectors and ultimately harming the engine, experts recommend replacing the fuel filter in your vehicle every two years or 30,000 miles. There is only one fuel filter in your vehicle, and failure to change it can lead to a breakdown as insufficient fuel gets to the engine.

If you learn the steps of fuel filter replacement, you can do this fast, economical DIY job next time your vehicle needs a new fuel filter. Although details vary from one vehicle to another, the basic procedure is the same as I have described here.

Cost for parts = $15 to $125.

Cost for professional labor = $30 to $100.

Time for DIY replacement = 15 to 60 minutes.

Tools Required

  • Drain pan
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Garden hose connected to water source
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Safety glasses
  • Slot screwdriver
  • Vehicle ramps (if fuel filter is mounted underneath the vehicle)

Materials Required

  • Replacement fuel filter (must be correct size & type)

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Relieve Fuel Pressure

  • To replace a bad fuel filter, first locate the fuse or relay for your vehicle’s fuel pump and unplug it.
  • Try to start the vehicle. If you disconnected the correct circuit, the engine will turn over but not start. It might also start and run for a few seconds before dying.
  • Shut off the engine and let it cool, if it has been running.

Relieve Fuel PressureSteve Maxwell for Family Handyman

Step 2

Find the Fuel Filter

  • Check an auto repair manual to locate your vehicle’s fuel filter.
  • Remove the replacement fuel filter from the box.

Find the Fuel FilterSteve Maxwell for Family Handyman