The Effects of Dirty Fuel Filters


Fuel supplies the energy to a vehicle, providing it with the power to function. The burning of the fuel powers the engine. Not all gasoline is equal and some gasoline has more particles and dirt in it. This can decrease the performance of the engine. A fuel filter functions to help trap those particles before they move into the fuel line. If the fuel filter is clogged or dirty, this can have a negative impact on the car and its performance.

Poor Mileage

  • One of the earliest signs that the fuel filter may be getting dirty is a decrease in vehicle performance as indicated by a decrease in gas mileage. Gas mileage is a measure of how many miles a vehicle can travel on one gallon of gas. Cars have various capabilities in regards to fuel efficiency, but if a vehicle begins to indicate that it can go fewer miles on a gallon of gas, then checking the cleanliness of the fuel filter is a good initial option.

Other Performance Issues

  • If the fuel filter is becoming clogged, the vehicle will begin to have trouble delivering fuel to the engine. It may be able to run at low speeds or when idling, but may fail to run at higher speeds. It may also sputter and choke. If this is the situation, the fuel filter needs to be checked and changed.


  • One of the final indications that a fuel filter is very dirty is that the vehicle fails to continue running. The engine may in fact turn over and start, but because of the clogged filter, it will not be able to maintain that condition, at least without help from the driver who will have to flutter the gas pedal to keep it going. At this point it is imperative that the fuel filter be replaced.

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