Over time, fuel filter material becomes dirty, and less permeable. This restricts the amount of fuel that can get through it, and to the engine. While filters aren’t at top-of-mind, they are vital for the smooth-running and functionality of your vehicle. To keep your car working effectively, make sure you carry out regular fuel filter replacements so that fuel can flow freely.
We recently had a Kia Sportage booked in due to the engine management light on and going into limp mode restricting the vehicle to 40mph. Our mechanic found that this was caused by a clogged fuel filter! Below shows photos of the clogged fuel filter found on this vehicle.
How the fuel filter works
The fuel is pumped through the filter using the pressure generated by the fuel pump. Inside of the filter is made up of a pleated, permeable material. It allows the fuel through under pressure, but blocks dirt particles.
Can a clogged fuel filter cause loss of power?
When you start noticing instances such as decreased power when going uphill, rough starts, shuddering/rough idles, sluggish acceleration, chances are the filter is clogged and needs replacing. Shortage of power in the engine could be due to lack of enough fuel flow. The ECU will automatically restrict the engine output to protect the engine. This is known as ‘limp mode’ and a check engine light will display on the dashboard. Of course, there could be other reasons for a lack of power like faulty injectors or mass air flow sensor. It’s definitely worth checking the fuel filter condition first to see if a fuel filter change is required, as this is the cheapest and easiest to fix.
Fuel filters are very effective at removing debris in the fuel, but it does mean that they will eventually clog up and over time may lead to an expensive repair. The replacement of the part is usually part of a scheduled car service that occurs at set mileages or timescales, per your manufacturer’s recommendations. However, sometimes manufacturers list extensive replacement intervals. We would recommend if you’re doing 12,000 miles a year or more to replace yearly.
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