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What does a fuel filter do?

What does a fuel filter do?

The fuel filter isn't the best-known car part, but it plays a vital role in preserving your engine and making sure it lasts as long as possible. As its name suggests, it is responsible for filtering the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine, preventing any contaminants in the tank from reaching the engine. MOSTPLUS gives you all the information you need to understand what a fuel filter is.

What is the role of the fuel filter?

The fuel filter is an automobile part made of plastic or aluminum. The role of the fuel filter is to protect the "health" of your engine by preventing dirt and other contaminants from entering the fuel system. Typically, the fuel filter is located either toward the engine or under the car near the rear wheels.

It helps clean contaminants from your fuel from the tank to the injectors.  These particles can clog the fuel injection system, causing it to malfunction or even break down. Clean, filtered fuel extends engine life and prevents premature wear and fuel consumption.

Composition of Fuel Filters

Like the oil filter, a vehicle's fuel filter consists of a cylindrical metal housing containing a cartridge of paper or felt filter that is either wrapped around a metal tube (axial filters) or arranged in a star shape around a central axis (radial filters). Fuel enters the filter at the top, then flows through the paper filters, whose extremely fine weave retains far more contaminants than an oil filter, before exiting through the top of the housing.

How to choose your fuel filter

There are many types of filters. Some don't just filter: they also regulate fuel pressure and temperature. Depending on the model, they are located either on the engine or under the vehicle, at the rear wheels.

To choose the right fuel filter for your vehicle, you need to consider the specifics of your engine. You'll need a fuel filter that is identical to the original. You'll need to check several factors, such as filter type, diameter, height, and so on.

A compatible fuel filter will ensure the optimum performance of your vehicle. Many brands offer this part. But you don't have to look at just the brand to make your choice. First and foremost, your fuel filter should be compatible with your car and of the highest quality.

What types of fuel filters are there?

There are three main types of fuel filters, depending on the components they contain:

  • Fuel filter elements: These replaceable filters are built into the engine and housed in their own case. When they are changed, only the filter elements are replaced.
  • Interchangeable fuel filters: These are replaced as a unit during service, as the housing and filter element are one unit. These filters may also include a filter element with a water level indicator, drain plug, fuel heater, and mounting hardware.
  • Fuel Line Filters: These filters are installed in the fuel line. During service, the housing and elements are replaced as one unit. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer's requirements, fuel line filters are available in plastic, aluminum, or steel.

Differences between gasoline and diesel filters

In addition to the different designs, it's important to distinguish between gasoline and diesel filters.

  • Unlike the gasoline filter, which is typically located as an adapter in the fuel line, the diesel filter is a separate component installed in the engine compartment.
  • Diesel enters the filter through a port at the top, is cleaned, and then returned to the engine through a second port. As a result, the filter paper (the membrane inside the filter) becomes increasingly clogged with dirt particles and contaminants, requiring periodic replacement.

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