8 Main Signs You Need to Change Your Fuel Filter (Act Now!)

signs you need to change your fuel filter

Do you know what are the main signs that you need to change your fuel filter? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

While the fuel filter is a fairly cheap component, it is vital for the running of your vehicle. It stops all that bad stuff from getting into your engine.

If your fuel filter fails, then not only are you running the risk of a rather costly engine repair, but you could also lose your fuel pump. We don’t know about you but, in our opinion, neither of those is good!

So, here are the 8 main Signs that You Need to Change Your Fuel Filter:

  1. Check Engine Light Is On
  2. Power Loss In Your Vehicle When It Is Placed Under Load
  3. Vehicle Struggles At Slow Speeds
  4. Fuel Economy Decreases
  5. The Engine Runs Rough
  6. You Struggle To Start Your Engine
  7. The Fuel Pump Breaks
  8. Your Fuel Filter Is Old

On this page, we are going to help you to decide whether your fuel filter needs replacing. 

These Are Not Only Signs Your Fuel Filter Needs Replacing

Before we dive into the signs that you need to change your fuel filter, we do want to point out that many of these ‘symptoms’ do not necessarily indicate that the fuel filter needs to be pulled out and a new one put in. Vehicles are complicated contraptions.

While these signs could indicate that your fuel filter needs replacing, there is a myriad of different reasons why these signs may be presenting themselves, and the only way to properly diagnose the issue is to talk to a mechanic.

Read also >> Will A Clogged Catalytic Converter Cause Loss Of Power (Bad Catalytic, Harm Engine)

Read also >> Can You Read Codes Without Check Engine Light On? (Full Guide)

1.    Check Engine Light Is On

Probably one of the first signs that you will have that the fuel filter needs replacing is that your check engine light will come on.

As you can probably guess, the check engine light can come on for a whole host of different reasons. However, it most commonly comes on for that fuel filter (or if you haven’t had your vehicle serviced in a while).

In any case, if that check engine light is on, make your way to the garage as soon as you can. They will be able to run a few diagnostics and work out what the issue is.

We promise you, even if the fuel filter doesn’t need replacing, having that check engine light on is never going to be a good thing!

2.    Power Loss In Your Vehicle When It Is Placed Under Load

If you are driving your vehicle and you suddenly notice a loss of power, particularly when you are placing the vehicle under load, then this would indicate a problem with the fuel filter.

A clogged fuel filter can stop the amount of fuel that your engine needs from getting through. When the engine isn’t receiving the fuel that it needs, there will be a small amount of power loss.

In some cases, particularly if the fuel filter is only partially clogged, the power loss will be temporary.

However, as you can probably imagine, even the smallest amount of power loss isn’t going to be a good thing, particularly if you are driving on a busy road.

3.    Vehicle Struggles At Slow Speeds

It isn’t just the heavy loads with your vehicle that you are going to need to worry about. In some cases, if your vehicle has a bad fuel filter, you may notice that it struggles at slower speeds.

You may feel that the vehicle is a little bit ‘rougher’ to drive as you slow the vehicle down. You may even experience a bit of chugging or grinding in the engine.

In some cases, this may be one of the first signs that you notice. 

4.    Fuel Economy Decreases

You may actually notice that this issue rears its ugly head slightly after the check engine light comes on.

If your fuel filter isn’t letting fuel from the pump through to the engine, then this will decrease your fuel economy.

Basically, you will notice the number of miles that you can get per gallon falling pretty sharply. 

Obviously, this is a problem that you are going to want to sort out pretty quickly.

Not only does it mean that there is a problem with your fuel pump filter, (or perhaps the engine or fuel pump), but it is something that is going to be costing you a lot of money.

We are pretty positive that this is the last thing that you want in this age of rising gas prices!

5.    The Engine Runs Rough

If you are starting to notice a little bit of chugging with your engine, then you may have a problem with your fuel filter.

The chugging indicates that not enough fuel is being pushed through to the engine.

If the problem is particularly bad, then not only may you experience a little bit of chugging, but you may find that the vehicle stalls a lot more frequently.

So, if you are noticing that your vehicle is running rough, or perhaps stalling a lot more frequently than it normally stalls, then you are probably going to need to get that vehicle looked at.

It indicates a pretty serious issue, and it may not always be down to the fuel filter.

6.    You Struggle To Start Your Engine

If your vehicle struggles to start in the morning, or perhaps you are unable to start it at all, then this would indicate that you have a problem with your vehicle’s fuel filter.

Although, once again, we cannot stress enough that there are problems that are far, far worse that can cause your engine to fail to start, so you will almost certainly want to check the vehicle out with a garage.

Of course, the whole reason that this problem happens is that your fuel pump is having issues delivering all the fuel that it needs to the engine.

Remember, an engine needs a huge amount of fuel to get going.

Other than the check engine light coming on, this may be one of the only signs that you notice. Once you have properly started your vehicle, the engine will require less power.

This means that any issues with the fuel pump filter are probably going to be a lot less apparent. 

7.    The Fuel Pump Breaks

If you leave your fuel filter ‘clogged’ for a long while, then you may end up getting to this point. Hopefully, you never do. Fuel pumps can be pretty expensive to replace.

So, why does this happen? Well, a clogged fuel filter is going to be letting less fuel through it. The same would happen with a broken fuel filter.

Of course, the engine is ‘demanding’ that fuel coming through, which means that it is going to be sending a signal to that fuel pump to work harder. As a result, the fuel pump is going to start to work even harder, and it will start to wear down.

Eventually, you are going to be pushing that fuel pump to the point where it just breaks.

As we said, it is unlikely that your fuel pump is ever going to be getting to this point. This is under the assumption that you have listened to all of the warning signs that we have given before.

Remember, if your fuel pump breaks, then your vehicle isn’t going to start at all. This is because you are now missing that small part that actually pumps the fuel from the tank all the way through to the engine.

8.    Your Fuel Filter Is Old

Honestly, even if you not spotting any of the signs that we have highlighted on this page, it is important that you replace your fuel filter every 20,000 or so miles.

This will often line up with your regular vehicle service, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

In most vehicles, this is roughly how long the fuel filter is going to last. So, if you are not getting it replaced every 20,000 miles, then you will slowly start to notice that the problems we have mentioned creeping in.

You will also find that the fuel economy on your vehicle is going to absolutely plummet. 

Can You Replace a Fuel Filter Yourself?

You can replace a fuel filter yourself. If you have retained your vehicle’s manual, then it should give you all of the information that you need to get that fuel pump filter yourself.

However, if you have started to get some of the more serious issues due to a dodgy fuel filter e.g. your vehicle is running rough or suffers from a frequent loss of power, then we suggest that you head to a garage.

Even if there is nothing wrong with your vehicle, it is always good to have that once-over, just to be 100% sure that there aren’t any long-term issues.

Bad Fuel Filter: Signs you need to change fuel filter > > Check out the video below:


While a fuel filter isn’t an expensive part in your vehicle, it is arguably one of the most important. A clogged or broken fuel filter can result in engine and fuel pump failures.

Thankfully, it is often pretty simple to spot the warning signs that your fuel filter may need replacing.

These signs will often begin with that check engine light coming on, but it won’t be too long before you start to notice serious issues with your vehicle.

This may mean a loss of power or even no power at all. Thankfully, a fuel filter is cheap to replace. Contact your local garage.





Jeff is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Reatta. Jeff has been creating written and video content about transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used for more than 18 years. Jeff is based in Boulder, Colorado.

Recent Posts

error: Content is protected !!