What happens if you don’t change your fuel filter?

The fuel filter is a crucial part of your vehicle’s fuel system. Without a fuel filter, a lot of contaminants, debris, and unwanted particles would find their way into the engine and cause corrosion and damage, which would require a repair job in the thousands of dollars. So, keep your engine clean and running smoothly by replacing the filter often. Here’s what you need to know about changing your fuel filter.

What happens if you don’t change your fuel filter?

When you don’t change your fuel filter, the filter will not be able to capture all of the debris, particles, and contaminants that enter your fuel tank when you fill up your vehicle with gasoline. As a result, your vehicle’s fuel pump and the engine will become clogged and coated with contaminants. A dirty engine will develop many issues and may require complete replacement if the damage is too much.

Issues caused by a blocked fuel filter

● Your vehicle won’t start at all – gasoline is dirty and you must clean your car’s filters regularly. If you don’t keep them clean or change out your fuel filters on a regular basis, you can end up with filters that are so clogged with contaminants. Because of the clogging, the filters won’t have enough room to allow fuel to get to the engine. Without the right amount of gasoline to combust in the combustion chamber, the engine won’t work, and your car will become an expensive lawn decoration.

● A clogged fuel pump – if your vehicle cannot handle going up hills and inclines without stalling or needing more power, your fuel pump is clogged and unable to provide the right amount of power to your car. 

● A high screeching noise – Screeching noises are never a good sound, especially if it is coming from your engine. If you hear this kind of noise coming from under the hood, it’s time to go to your mechanic. They will be able to use your car’s diagnostic system to find out what the problem is. 

● Your vehicle develops a strong burnt smell when running – a fuel filter without enough contamination can corrode and cause the fuel to leak out of the filter chamber. Your vehicle should never smell like gasoline, and it is a bad sign if it does.

How often should you change your fuel filter?

The average American changes or cleans their fuel filter once every two years. But the range of time between changing fuel filters depends on how many miles there are on the car. If you drive between 20,000 to 30,000 miles within a year, you will have to change your fuel filter every year. 

But some cars and trucks have high-quality fuel filters, and they won’t need to be changed until driven over 60,000 miles. Hybrid cars may have fuel filters that never need to be changed.

The Manufacturer’s recommendation

If you want to know the exact mileage recommended to change your fuel filter, you can always check your vehicle’s manual. If it does not say the mileage or you do not have one, send an email to the manufacturer with your make, model, and year, and they can email you a new guidebook or tell you about the mileage at which to change the fuel filter. You can also ask your mechanic, especially if you visit a mechanic shop created by the company that makes your vehicle. 

How much does it cost to replace a fuel filter?

On average, replacing your fuel filter with a brand-new filter is unbelievably cheap. Most fuel filters cost around $10 to $50, although some can rise up to the $100+ level. It all depends on the make and model of the vehicle. It is pretty amazing how such an inexpensive device can protect your engine from thousands of dollars in damage and keep it running smoothly for years. 

If you need to get your fuel filters replaced by a mechanic, the average cost of a fuel filter cleaning or replacement can be anywhere from $50 to $175. Most people have their fuel filters completely replaced, as the price is not worth it to just have them cleaned. If you have the skills to change your own fuel filter, then you just need to buy the part.

Problems after changing fuel filters

So now your mechanic changed your fuel filter and cleaned out any debris clogging up your engine. Your car should run as smoothly as the day you bought it. That is unless you waited too long to change the filters and now other parts of your car’s engine are not performing the right way. So here are a few problems that might appear after changing out the fuel filters. 


When an engine misfires, it is because one of the cylinders that produce power inside the engine is not receiving enough fuel to produce that power. This means the fuel pressure is low enough and that could be because the fuel filter was not placed on correctly or there is more debris that needs to be removed.

The mechanic installed the wrong filter

Not just any fuel filter can replace inside any truck or car’s engine. There has to be a specific make and model for different companies, especially if you own a foreign car. If you notice that you’re having the same problems as before or they have gotten worse, check to see if you or the mechanic accidentally chose the wrong fuel filter.

The car still won’t start when ignited or takes several tries

If a vehicle is unable to start or it takes several ignitions in order for it to actually run, that is when people must change the fuel filter. But if this issue persists after you have changed them, it means there is an issue with the amount of pressure in the fuel chamber. Not enough fuel pressure means that fuel is not getting to the engine. So, if the fuel filters are clean and installed correctly, now the problem lies with the fuel injectors. They could be clogged from all of the particles the filters were not able to catch.

  • Eric Williams

    I'm the founder of Daily Car Tips. I wrote articles in the automotive industry for more than 10 years, published in USA and Europe. I love sharing my knowledge and insights with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on this journey as we explore the exciting world of cars together!

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