Volkswagen is a funny kind of company. Originally founded to build "peoples' cars," VW's made a reputation for itself building cars that last forever as long as they're maintained. They're pretty easy to maintain -- as long as you know how, and have all the right tools. Fortunately, as a card-carrying member of the Cult of Bug, I wasn't caught out when it came to replacing this Jetta's fuel filter.
I started out by plugging my VW scan tool into the OBD-II port and going to the diagnostic mode. In the diagnostic mode, there's an option to deactivate the fuel pump relay. I turned the relay off, started the engine and waited until it stalled, then removed the key. On most other cars, I'd have just pulled the relay out, but this way required fewer contortions.
After getting the car up in the air on jack stands, I traced the fuel lines back from the engine to the fuel filter. Placing a drip pan under the filter, I pressed in on the locking rings on the three fuel fittings and pulled the lines off. from there, it was just a matter of removing the bolt on the filter clamp and pulling the filter out. Sure enough, it was heavy and packed full of sediment; it must have weighed three times what the new filter did. I slid the new filter into the bracket -- making sure the pin on the top engaged the slot in the bracket -- and tightened down the clamp's bolt just snug.
After pulling the locking rings back and reinstalling the lines, the filter was on and ready to rock. On most other cars, I'd have just plugged the relay in, turned the key on and let the fuel pump prime the system. But, since I had the tools anyway, I decided to vacuum-prime the system the way VW recommends.
Under the hood, I found the little bleed valve on the fuel rail. I unscrewed the cap and screwed the bleed adapted onto it. The bleed adapter -- VW part number 1318/20-1 -- had a little nipple on it for a hose. I connected one end of a hose to it, and the other end of the hose to my hand vacuum pump. I turned the little valve on the base of the bleeder counterclockwise to open it, and started pumping the vacuum bleeder.
A few minutes and a cramped hand later, fuel began squirting into the pump's catch jar, and I closed the valve on the engine. I wrapped a rag around the bleeder on the engine to catch dribbling gas, removed the pump hose, unscrewed the adapter and screwed the plastic cap back on. From there, it was just a matter of going back in with the scanner, and turning the pump relay back on. Afterward, the car fired up without a second's hesitation, and my VW tool set saw another job well done.