12 Symptoms of a Clogged Fuel Filter (How to Tell if a Fuel Filter is Bad)

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Fuel filter is one of that little but very essential piece of your vehicle and that is why in today’s article, we are looking the symptoms of a clogged fuel filter and how to tell if fuel filter is bad. The where fuel filter is located in your car and the cost of fuel filter replacement.

No matter the type of engine you have (traditional or diesel), all vehicles have fuel filters that cleans the oil before it reaches to the engine. However, this dirty job makes filters especially vulnerable to debris buildups, and once the filter becomes clogged, you will begin to see symptoms as warning signs which need to be attended to immediately. Below are 12 symptoms of a clogged fuel filter and how to tell if fuel filter is bad

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12 Symptoms of a Clogged Fuel Filter (How to Tell if a Fuel Filter is Bad)

  • Lower Engine Performance

Any weak fuel filter will cause the engine to misfire and perform very low. Once this happens, immediate cleaning will help, but the best will be a full replacement. However, if the fuel efficiency starts to suffer or the engine behaves in an abnormal way, then you need to change your filter.

So these are you how to know if a fuel filter is bad:

  • Having A Hard Start

This fuel filter job is to keep sediments and other pollutants from getting into the combustion chamber. And to achieve this, the fuel filter keeps all the polluted particles inside its own chamber, but after some times, this chamber can get clogged too resulting to improper fuel delivery to the cylinders and causing a hard engine start.

  • Hesitation Of The Engine

The hesitation of the engine is a common symptom of a clogged fuel filter. This causes an abnormal fuel flow to your car engine, which results in abnormal engine combustion and reduced engine power. Note that a clogged fuel filter has the ability to cause an engine to hesitate or stumble during acceleration.

  • Having Strong Odors

Anytime that your car exhaust emits strong fumes, this could be a symptom of a dirty fuel filter. And also, it could mean other damaging issues are at play, as well. Anything you think that could be the case, note that a foul odors mean you should have a professional to examine it immediately.

  • Having Poor Acceleration

There are many things that can contribute to a noticeable decrease in normal acceleration, a bad fuel filter is definitely one of them. Once there is no enough fuel going to the combustion chamber, the car computer will restrict the power output to prevent any engine damage from running too lean.

Sometimes you notice this when accelerating under heavy loads such as when passing on an incline. But in rare cases, the filter may be bad enough to place the car into limp mode.

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  • Having Carburetor and Injector problems

It’s true that sometimes when the filter is clogged or partly dirty, fuel will somehow go through the filter but will substantially clog the car’s injector or carburetor. And when this happens, it will cause the engine to stall, having start problems and much more.

  • A whining Fuel Pump

Anytime there is forcing of liquid through saturated filtration material, it becomes tough on the pump. Once this happens, you will be able to hear it whining as it works.

You can have someone to rev your engine while the car is parked and listen to it. Note that most pumps are located inside the gas tank.

  • Having A Frequent Engine Stalling

For any car’s engine to run perfectly and efficiently, a regular flow of fuel needs to enter the engine. And any disruption of this fuel flow, which is what happens when a fuel filter is clogged, can cause an engine to frequently stall.

  • Stoppage Of The Engine

Sometimes your car may not be able to start at all when your fuel filter is heavily clogged or too dirty. This happens especially when climbing through steep slopes, your car will behave abnormally as if you’re running out of gas, eventually making it to stop abruptly. In case your car behaves like this regularly, it could be the engine lacks sufficient supply of fuel within its reach, and as such this can cause the engine to stall. Although a clogged or immensely dirty fuel filter can cause insufficient fuel supply from reaching the car’s engine.

  • Reduction Of Fuel Mileage

It is known that the injector influences how much fuel the engine consumes. And having no functional filtration unit, they can get dirty.

Most times, sediment or buildup can impact how the injector will function. Sometimes they can become erratic, injecting excess gasoline or diesel unnecessarily.

Note that you will save yourself money in the long run by checking the fuel filter to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced.

  • The Check Engine Light Turning On

Most modern cars now have sensors placed on every square inch of the car that transmits signals to the car’s computer informing it when something is going wrong with the car. What this computer does is to illuminate the Check Engine light on the dashboard asking you to get the car checked. But if the fuel filter goes bad, the pressure of fuel that comes into the system will decrease which will alert the fuel pressure sensor and the Check Engine light will come on.

  • Having A Sputtering Problem

A lot of times, sputtering problem normally occur when driving at a lower speed and where the fuel filter is experiencing some minimal blockage. But after sometime, you will have no other choice but to cleans or change your fuel filter entirely.


Are you wondering what will happen if you don’t change your fuel filter? Below are what might happen to your car.

  • Your engine will not perform well: 
    anytime your fuel filter gets clogged, it has the ability to reduce the flow and weaken performance as the engine will have difficulties drawing fuel. However, with a clogged filter, the fuel pump will work much harder and you may have problems starting the car or notice poor acceleration or stalling.
  • Your vehicle’s parts might damage: 
    note that because of its abrasive action, dirt and contaminants in the fuel can speed up wear and tear, which may damage expensive parts and even cause the fuel pump and injector to fail completely. 

It is true that sometimes filters aren’t top-of-mind to car owners, but they are important for the smooth running and general wellbeing of your car. So to keep your car working perfectly, keep an eye on the different types of car filter and carry out car filter replacement so they can flow better.

COST OF FUEL FILTER REPLACEMENT (Fuel Filter Replacement Cost)

In case you want to change the filter, the cost of replacing it is around $50 to $170.  And note that the fuel filter part will only be around $15 or $70 while the labor cost could be around $45 and $100.

Also note that it’s not very expensive or overly difficult to change, this is why most oil servicing shops will offer to do this because it can be done very quickly.

You can source for the filter yourself and take it to a mechanic or try changing it yourself.  Here are our picks of filter for you on Amazon

To change the filter please watch this video below.

How To Change Diesel Fuel Filters ( how change fuel filter )


For those who don’t know, the fuel filter is located somewhere in between your fuel tank and your engine. Normally, the fuel filter is either located inside the fuel tank (in the opening of the fuel line, which feeds gas to your car), or somewhere in the fuel line (this is usually at the bottom of your car). But in case you are not too sure of your fuel filter’s location, then consult your car’s documentation for guide.

So this is where conclude this article on the 12 symptoms of a clogged fuel filter and how to tell if fuel filter is bad. I help this has helped you please share and bookmark this post for future referencing.

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