5 Bad Or Clogged Fuel Filter Symptoms [What Are They?]

Removing a bad fuel filter

Being small in size, fuel filters are often neglected. But what can possibly happen if you ignore the bad fuel filter symptoms your vehicle exhibits? Well, it can cause you several problems and loss of a lot of bucks.

To prevent that from happening, you should look out for symptoms like having issues in getting your car started, the poor performance of the engine, stalling, strong and foul smell coming from the exhaust, or engine misfire.

5 Bad Fuel Filter Symptoms to Keep an Eye On!

To continue maintaining a smooth ride, you must take care of your fuel filter because this part of your vehicle, no matter what type of engine you have (diesel or traditional), is most exposed to the build-up of debris.

You can prevent your fuel filter from turning into a bad one by looking out for a few obvious signs that are discussed below in detail.

1. Having Issues In Getting Your Engine Started

There can be a lot of reasons that can cause a hindrance in getting your engine started. Such as a dead battery, a dead alternator, a faulty spark, or a bad fuel filter.

Out of all the reasons given, how do you figure out if your fuel filter is causing the problem? Well, that’s quite easy. You just have to check the fuel gauge and fuel inside the fuel tank.

Make sure to resolve the issue as soon as possible because a fully clogged fuel filter won’t let the engine start at all.

2. A Stalling Engine

A clogged fuel filter can cause the engine of your vehicle to stall. If your filter is partially clogged, you might be able to start your vehicle, but as the vehicle keeps on moving, it burns more fuel than it usually does and the condition of your engines worsens.

Eventually, the filter gets fully clogged hence results in sudden stalling of the engine and vehicle.

When it happens, you won’t be able to restart the engine again as the fuel is stopped in its way by the clogged filters.

3. Foul Odors

A clogged fuel filter can cause the exhaust system of your vehicle to emit strong and foul odors and fumes. Several other reasons can also contribute to such a happening.

Regardless of the reason, you should take your vehicle to an expert and get the issue resolved.

Because if you don’t get it done on time, it may lead to severe issues and cost you lots of bucks. So don’t procrastinate!

4. Engine Misfire

A fuel filter that is partially clogged is not likely to cause a sudden engine misfire; however, if you have not checked your filter for a while and It has gone from being partially clogged to completely clogged, it can cause an engine misfire.

Usually, it happens when you’re driving on a difficult and uphill route or carrying a heavy amount of loads with you. It is not an uphill task to check the filter of your vehicle.

All you have to do is to blow through it. If air passes easily through it, it means your filter is doing well. If not, then it’s time for you to get the filter changed.

5. Not Being Able To Accelerate The Speed

This yet another symptom that your car shows when its fuel filter gets dirty.

So, if you’re trying to accelerate the speed of your vehicle but are unable to do so even after stepping on the gas, then you should consider checking the fuel filters of your car.

What Happens To The Fuel System If The Fuel Filter Is Clogged?

When the fuel filter doesn’t perform its job, the fuel pump tries to compensate for that, and while it tries to compensate it, it puts excessive pressure on the motor of the fuel pump.

This eventually damages the pump causing it to fail completely and prematurely.

The contaminates that manage to pass the filter become a reason for clogging and damaging the fuel injector. A clogged fuel injector then starts to leak and leads to many other engine issues.

How Much Does The Replacement Of Fuel Filter Cost?

A fuel filter itself is inexpensive; what actually costs you more money is the labor. You can get yourself a fuel filter typically ranging from $10 to $40.

By the way this is the popular fuel filter on the market today below:

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07/21/2022 12:08 am GMT

Usually, It takes about 1 hour for a mechanic to get the job done. You can keep in mind an estimate of about $70- $120 for the labor. Hence, you can keep an estimate of $80-$160 in mind.

It would be best if you did not procrastinate in getting your fuel filter change once you know it’s not performing its job well, as It can lead to many other issues which will cost you more than a fuel filter does.


Q1. What Is Meant By A Bad Fuel Filter?

A fuel filter keeps on filtering the fuel that passes through the fuel line, and with the passage of time, the rust and dirt particles of the fuel start to settle in it. This makes the fuel filter bad.

Q2. Can I Drive A Car With A Bad Fuel Filter?

Yes, you can drive a car with a bad fuel filter, but only if the fuel filter is partially clogged. This way, your vehicle will burn more fuel and will always be at risk of sudden stalling.

So, basically, it is not a good thing to keep driving with a bad fuel filter.

Q3. When Do I Have To Change My Fuel Filter? How often?

A fuel filter makes sure that no dirt or rust particles of the fuel make it to the engine so, one should consider changing the fuel filter once in two years.

Q4. Is It Possible To Clean A Fuel Filter Without Removing It?

To get that done, first of all, you’ll need to break the connection of the filter with the vehicle carefully so that no damage occurs.

After you’ve successfully taken the filter out, clean it carefully and thoroughly. Then comes the last step; placing it back. And that’s all!

You can’t clean a fuel filter that is made up of nylon or paper.

Q5. What Kind Of Sound Does The Vehicle Give Off When The Fuel Filter Is Clogged?

Typically a vehicle starts making noise after getting warmed up if its fuel filter is clogged up.

It might give off a knocking and ticking sound. The reason behind that happening is the dropped engine pressure because of the dirty and bad fuel filter.


A fuel filter is a small part of your vehicle, but it holds as much importance as any other part does.

A fuel filter makes sure that no contaminants make their way to the engine of the vehicle, but if it gets damaged or clogged, the whole system starts to collapse.

Some of the main symptoms of a bad fuel filter include engine misfire, engine stalling, a foul odor coming out of the exhaust system, having trouble getting the engine started, etc.; if any of the mentioned symptoms start to show up, immediately check your fuel filter.

Checking a fuel filter is a very easy thing to do. All you have to do is just blow through the filter and see If air passes through it.

If it does, then it means that your fuel filter is doing just fine, and if not, there might be some other reason, and you should immediately take your vehicle to an expert.


Written by Kane Dan

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