Signs a Car Needs a Fuel Filter Change

by Hillary Marshall
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Cars use filters to separate the good from the bad so your engine stays clean. Just like any other item that uses a filter, cars require regular filter changes to function at their peak. Most car manuals will tell you how often to change the filters on your vehicle, but for optimal performance and increased longevity of your engine, it's important to recognize signs that your car may need a fuel filter change.

Filter Looks Dirty

Visually inspecting your fuel filter is one of the best ways to determine whether it needs to be changed. Remove the filter from its housing on the top of the engine, hold it up to the sunlight and look in the crevices of the filter. If the filter has a lot of grime, dirt, debris or discoloration, it should probably be changed.

Reduced Fuel Milage

According to, a clogged fuel filter can cause decreased fuel mileage. If you notice you are getting fewer miles per gallon, or refilling your gas tank more frequently than normal, you may need to change your fuel filter. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that changing a clogged fuel filter can improve gas mileage by up to 10 percent.

Car Won't Start

If you are having trouble starting your car, you may need to listen to a sound your car makes. recommends that you turn the key in your ignition and listen to the sound the fuel pump is making; a dirty fuel filter can cause the fuel pump to make a buzzing noise.

Exhaust Smoke

If your car is producing more exhaust smoke than normal, it can signal many different things. A clogged fuel filter can cause your engine to expel. If you change the filter and the problem persists, you may need to take your car to a mechanic.

Engine Knocking

If your car is making a noise that sounds like a knocking or ticking after it is warmed up, you may have a clogged fuel filter. When a filter is clogged or dirty, it may cause the pressure in the engine to drop, which is why your are hearing this noise.

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