Symptoms of a bad Fuel Filter
Check engine warning light
You were hoping I wouldn’t mention this one, weren’t you? It can’t be that serious if it’s just a little light, right?
Wrong. The check engine warning light exists to...well, warn you about something going on with your car. While it can illuminate due to a myriad of different issues. Many of those issues are fuel-related, which can ultimately be the result of a fuel filter that needs replacing.
This one is pretty straightforward. Your car needs fuel to operate. When the fuel filter is clogged, damaged, or otherwise compromised, your engine may not be able to get the proper amount of fuel.
The result can be a variety of issues that you’ll feel in your right foot. The car might misfire, which happens due to incomplete combustion.
You also might notice a lack of power, as your car won’t quite do what your foot is asking it to do. This may be a lot more noticeable at slow speeds, because the engine isn’t working as hard. At faster speeds, with the engine working a bit harder, the higher pressure can help the fuel make it past a clogged filter, which it may not be able to do at lower speeds.
There also may be hesitation when you start, or when you accelerate, which is a weird sensation.
Car will stall
If your car is stalling like you did when you were first learning how to drive a stick shift, then it very well may be an issue with the fuel filter.
If a clogged up fuel filter is keeping the adequate amount of gasoline from making it to the combustion chamber, then the car may not be able to idle, which will lead to stalling when you come to a stop.
And yes, it's a bit embarrassing.
Difficulty starting or inability to start
Similarly, if your car can’t get enough gasoline because of a clogged fuel filter, then it may have a hard time starting.
This may play out with a case of hard starting, where the engine is reluctant to get going, and it takes a few tries to get the car to turn on. Or it may go a step further and result in an engine that simply won’t turn over, and a car that, in turn, won’t start.
Here’s your first lesson in Cars 101 class: If your car won’t turn on, it’s kind of useless.
Look, I know it's easy to "forget" (or ignore) scheduled maintenance, but if you have an external fuel filter, it should be replaced per the manufacturer's scheduled maintenance. Not sure how to tell when your car's due for scheduled maintenance? Check out that manual that came with your car. Hint: It's probably sitting in your glove box.