How to Change a 2003 Toyota Fuel Filter

by Marion Cobretti
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The fuel filter in your Toyota or any other car will clog over time as it continually collects dirt and rust particles. These contaminants generally get into the fuel system during fuel fill-ups at gas stations. As the bits of impurities collect in the fuel filter, they'll eventually restrict the ability for sufficient fuel to pass through the filter. Your engine will have trouble starting. It may stall on startup or even backfire during attempts at rapid acceleration. It's time to change the filter. With a few tools you can replace your 2003 Toyota’s fuel filter right at home. The task should take 45 minutes or less to do. We're changing the filter on a 2003 Toyota Matrix.

Step 1

Raise the hood on your Matrix and locate the power distribution center. The PDC mounts on the lower right corner of the engine compartment in front of the headlight. Remove the plastic cover by popping it out of place, then flip it over. Identify which of the relays in the center operates your fuel pump. Pull the relay out of the center with a pair of relay puller pliers. Set the cover and relay to the side of your work area.

Step 2

Start the engine and allow it to idle until it stalls out. Try to start the engine four more times but wait 8 to 10 seconds between each attempt. The engine failing to start again indicates that you have successfully relieved the fuel pressure.

Step 3

Remove the negative battery cable from its post on the battery with a socket wrench. Position the cable away from the battery and all other metal it may possibly contact.

Step 4

Locate the fuel filter at the back of the engine compartment. It mounts on the driver’s side and looks like a medium-size silver capsule. Place a folded shop towel down into the engine compartment, beneath the fuel filter.

Step 5

Loosen the nut holding the bottom fuel line in place on the filter, using an adjustable wrench. Continue loosening the nut by hand, then pull the fuel line away from the filter. Allow the small amount of fuel in the line to drain onto the towel.

Step 6

Note the top fuel line’s connection. The fuel line is held in place by a banjo-bolt and has two metal fuel line washers. One of the washers mounts between the fuel line and the fuel filter. The other washer mounts between the fuel line and the banjo-bolt. You must replace both of the old washers with brand new washers just as you see them.

Step 7

Remove the banjo-bolt from the top fuel line with a socket wrench. Remove the first washer, lift the fuel line away from the filter and remove the second washer. Allow any fuel in the top fuel line to drain onto the towel as well.

Step 8

Loosen the bolt on the retaining clamp holding the fuel filter in place with your socket wrench. Remove the old filter and place your new fuel filter back into the clamp. Tighten the retaining clamp’s bolt with your socket wrench until snug only.

Step 9

Install the top fuel line back onto the filter just as you removed it: washer, fuel line, washer; then install and tighten the banjo-bolt by hand. Secure the bolt in place with your socket wrench. A quarter-turn past hand tight is sufficient to assure the connection won't leak.

Step 10

Connect the bottom fuel line to the new fuel filter and tighten its nut by hand as well. Tighten the nut with your adjustable wrench until snug, then tighten the nut an extra quarter-turn past that point.

Step 11

Remove the towel that you placed beneath the fuel filter. Reinstall the fuel pump relay to its location in the PDC. The relay pushes back down into position by hand--you do not need the puller pliers to do this. Place the cover back over the PDC.

Step 12

Connect and secure the battery cable back to its post with your socket wrench. Start your Toyota Matrix’s engine and check the fuel filter to assure it's not leaking any fuel. Shut the hood.

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