A fuel filter is a simple auto part that plays a big role in how well your car runs. If you take your car in for regular maintenance according to the manufacturer's schedule, the fuel filter is changed routinely when it's due. If you have an older car that you're more lax about having serviced, your car may run into problems if you don't change the fuel filter on time. Here's a look at what the filter does and what happens if you don't change it when it gets dirty or clogged.
The Purpose Of The Fuel Filter In Your Car
The filter keeps debris out of your engine. All the fuel that goes to your engine has to pass through the filter first. This is an important job because the engine would clog otherwise, but instead, the filter fills up with debris and then is thrown out and replaced. Some auto parts, like the fuel injector, can be damaged easily if debris gets in them and causes clogs, so having a clean filter is important for the performance of your car.
Debris can come from a number of places, such as sediment in the gas tank. If you tend to run your car until the tank is almost empty, then debris on the bottom of the tank can get pulled into the filter and cause it to clog up earlier than it should. While you should have your mechanic change the fuel filter on the recommended schedule, the filter may need to be changed more often depending on your driving habits and how you treat your car. You should be alert to signs that the fuel filter is clogging so you can take your car to the shop to have it serviced.
What Happens If You Drive With A Clogged Fuel Filter
A dirty fuel filter might reduce the flow of fuel to an injector, so when you accelerate to go up a hill, your car might backfire and be sluggish. Your car may not accelerate as fast as it should when you hit the gas, and that could be dangerous if you're passing another car. Acceleration can be unpredictable, which could cause unsafe driving conditions, such as stalling. As the filter gets dirtier, your engine loses more power and your dash warning light may come on. Although these are worrisome consequences of a dirty or clogged fuel filter, if you take your car to an auto repair service in time, changing the filter may be enough to fix the problem so you can avoid more extensive car repairs. However, if you delay and the filter starts to break down, then debris will get in the engine and that might cause damage that's expensive to repair.