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Bad Fuel Filter Symptoms And How To Spot Them Easily

bad fuel filter symptoms

Photo Source: http://www.thedieselstop.com/forums/f35/dirty-fuel-filter-pics-306238/

Whether or not your vehicle is expensive, you are bound to experience some issues sooner or later. That is especially true if you use it regularly. And that is perfectly normal. However, this also emphasises the importance of maintaining your vehicle now and then.

Although some problems cannot be detected right away, there are also some that are very easy to diagnose. For instance, you can easily spot bad fuel filter symptoms. Then, if you’ve already detected the signs, it is time to get your vehicle checked and repaired if necessary!

So, what are the symptoms?

Like any other vehicle problem, a defective fuel filter is bound to show some symptoms. A faulty fuel filter is nothing car repair can’t fix. However, although this might seem like a minor problem, some of the symptoms might also be an indicator of something worse.

So be sure to get your vehicle checked the one you spot any of these symptoms. Here are some things we think you might have to find.

Problems Starting and Stalling

If you have been a vehicle owner for some time now, you might have experienced already some problems starting or the vehicle not starting at all. That might be an indicator that your fuel filter is defective.

problems starting and stalling

Credit: https://www.volvo-480-europe.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34284

A proper fuel combustion with the right amount of air and gas mixture is what ignites the engine to start. However, if your fuel filter is either dirty or completely clogged, you are most likely going to experience problems starting.

Having this problem does not necessarily mean you should replace your fuel filter. You can start by cleaning it first. If cleaning does not improve the situation, then you might have to bring your vehicle to the professionals.

Engine stalling can also be considered a sign when something is wrong with your fuel filter.

Engine Issues When Accelerating

The second symptom of a faulty fuel filter is engine hesitation or erratic engine performance when accelerating. No matter how fast or how slow you go, a good vehicle engine should not have any trouble at all shifting.

However, if you feel like when you shift gears or go too fast (or even too slow) and the engine seems to be having difficulty, then something is apparently wrong. Automatic or manual transmission, this symptom is likely to happen to both.

Read more: Why My Car Jerks When Accelerating?

A clogged or dirty filter affects the flow of fuel to your engine. Thus, when you try to accelerate, and the motor does not get enough fuel or fuel pressure, you get an erratic engine.

This symptom is something that you must deal with immediately if you plan to use your vehicle for long drives. After all, you wouldn’t want an erratic engine suddenly giving out on you in the middle of a long trip.

Extreme Odor From Exhaust Fumes

extreme odor from exhaust fumes

Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-Ym0Ap6-Po

Another prominent symptom that can point out to a faulty fuel filter would be the awful smell coming from exhaust fumes. If you happen to smell something terrible for your vehicle’s exhaust, then this might mean a faulty filter.

Moreover, if the exhaust fume or smoke seems dark and cloudy, then this might be due to a clogged or dirty fuel filter. Another thing to look out for would be misfiring. If you experience any of these, it is best to consult with maintenance professionals.

But you should decide to fix this symptom, be sure to wear a mask or any gear at all. Not only are these a pain when not corrected immediately, but these are also pollutants which can harm a person’s health when inhaled.

Carburetor or Injector Issues

Lastly, would be issued in the carburettor or injector. With a clogged or dirty fuel filter, it is highly likely for fuel to get into your nozzle and carburettor. Thus, obstructing both or either the injector or carburettor.


And that is what we must avoid not to worsen the problem. The more clogged your injector or carburettor gets, the more engine problems, starting or stalling you are going to experience.

Make sure to use the right fuel for your vehicle to avoid clogging or buildup. Also, having a full tank is okay but an overflowing one? Never. Following the basic do’s and don’ts might keep you from experiencing these symptoms.

But Remember

Although these might not be a complete list of the symptoms, these are just some of the most common and noticeable. Nonetheless, you should treat all symptoms as equally urgent.

Getting them resolved right away not only saves you money, but can also help keep you for accidents caused by car problems. Remember, early, and correct diagnosis is the key.

Ideally, it is best to have your fuel filter replaced annually. That is especially true if your vehicle’s mileage is pretty high as it is already. That is something you can do by yourself. You just have to buy the replacement.

However, if you do not know how to do it, it is best to leave the work to your trusty mechanic instead to avoid worsening the problem. Do not compromise on the price as fuel filter replacement can get pretty expensive.

If it means improving your car’s performance and condition, then why not, right?

At The End Of The Day

You would know your vehicle best. Whether or not the problem is a defective fuel filter, we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to get your car maintained. Not only for practical purposes but your safety as well.

Using your vehicle regularly means regularly exposing it to different situations and conditions. But with proper care and maintenance, you can keep your car in the top running state. Moreover, you might even be able to prolong its lifespan for years.

Steven K. Galloway