How to Replace the Fuel Filter in a 2003 Ford Focus

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The history of the Ford economy car goes back many years. The four cylinder Pinto was first sold as a 1971 model. The Escort replaced the Pinto in 1981 and was the first Ford with front wheel drive. The Focus, sharing many of the Escort’s mechanical parts, came out as a 2000. The fuel filter is part of the Focus’ pressurized fuel system and needs regular replacement to keep dirt, rust particles, and sediment from contaminating the fuel system.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 car ramps
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Flat blade screwdriver
  • Replacement fuel filter
  • Drive the car onto a set of car ramps and set the emergency brake. Allow the engine to run. Pull the fuel pump fuse. Replace the fuse after the engine sputters and quits, which releases the pressure in the fuel system. Crank the engine by turning the ignition key to the start position for five seconds to remove any remaining pressure. Replace the fuel pump fuse.

  • Open the hood. Loosen the negative ground battery cable on the driver’s side of the engine bay with an adjustable wrench. Pull the cable from the battery and push it away from the battery.

  • Crawl under the car and locate the fuel filter which is mounted to the underside of the driver’s side floorboard. Disconnect the fuel lines from each end of the filter by prying up on the metal clip on the ends of each fuel line with a flat blade screwdriver while pulling the lines away from the filter.

  • Pull the filter straight down until the spring loaded holding bracket releases. Pry the filter out of the bracket with a flat blade screwdriver if necessary. Discard the old filter. Locate the flow arrow on the new fuel filter. Push the new filter into the bracket with the arrow pointing towards the front of the cat until it snaps into place.

  • Push the fuel lines back into the fittings on each end of the filter until they snap into place. Push the negative ground cable back onto the battery and tighten the clamp with an adjustable wrench in a clockwise direction. Close the hood.

  • Turn the ignition key to the ON position for a few seconds to pressurize the fuel system before starting the car.

Tips & Warnings

  • The fuel pump fuse is located in the power distribution box under the hood. Lift the cover off of the box, which is located on the driver’s side of the engine bay near the firewall. Locate the fuel pump fuse, which is fuse #12, and remove it with the puller stowed on the underside of the power distribution box cover. When finished, push the fuse back into place and snap the cover back onto the box.

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