LAST UPDATED: November 13, 2019
Best Fuel Filters: Improve Performance, Power, and MPG
A dirty fuel filter may cause rough starting, power loss, or low gas mileage
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PUBLISHED ON November 13, 2019
The fuel filter in your vehicle is located between the fuel tank (or sometimes inside the fuel tank) and other key components of your engine: the fuel injectors, spark plugs, cylinders, and valves. It filters out possible gasoline impurities like dirt, debris, and rust. These can prevent your car or truck from running efficiently and powerfully. Check out our picks for the best replacement fuel filters in our buying guide.
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Benefits of Fuel Filters
- Better performance. A new, clean fuel filter obviously does its job better than an old, clogged one. After the fuel filter cleans fuel by filtering out debris, the fuel burns more completely so your engine runs smoother with more power and yields better MPG.
- Adds longevity. An engine running on clean fuel simply operates better because it does not have to contend with debris that may clog parts like fuel injectors. An engine that operates as it should is more durable, giving you longer service.
- Saves money. When your engine is operating optimally, it needs fewer repairs and part replacements. This keeps money in your pocket. You also get the added benefits of less stress and more peace of mind.
Types of Fuel Filters
Most replaceable fuel filters are the throw-away type where you replace the entire paper filter element and the housing or canister that encloses it. These are available for both gasoline and diesel engines and are popular because they are easy and fast to install; you simply disconnect the old filter and install the new one.
Some specialty fuel filters can be reused. In this case, you remove the paper element from the housing, clean it with solvent, and re-install it into the housing.
Many new cars, SUVs, and trucks with internal combustion engines have fuel filters built into the gas tank. These filters are meant to last the lifespan of the vehicle, and normally you don’t have to replace them. If in the rare case the in-tank filter requires replacement, it is best not to attempt it yourself, but rather have a professional that has the tools and expertise to do the job.
Some diesel engines have this type of fuel filter. It collects water that is often present in diesel fuel in a reservoir at the bottom of the filter (water is denser than diesel fuel, so it sinks to the bottom). To maintain this type of filter, you open a valve to drain out the water. Some of these filters have a sensor that indicates to the operator, via a warning light on the dash panel, that it is time to drain the water.
The Ford Motor Company originally debuted Motorcraft in the 1950s but discontinued it when Ford went with Autolite as the name for its parts division. Motorcraft again appeared in 1972 and replaced Autolite as the official brand for Ford parts. The division supplies OEM and replacement parts for Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln vehicles but also for other automakers. Check out the MotorCRAFT FD4624/FD4625 and Motorcraft FD4617 fuel filters.
The beginnings of ACDelco go back to 1916 when William C. Durant founded the United Motors Company, not to be confused with General Motors, which Durant also founded but in 1908. United Motors Company, one of the forerunners of ACDelco, made various parts for GM cars. In 1960, the name was changed to a well-known moniker in the auto industry, Delco, and the company became known as United Delco. It merged with GM’s AC Spark Plug to become AC-Delco in 1974 and became ACDelco (no hyphen) in 1995. Two of its popular fuel filters are the ACDelco TP1015 and the ACDelco GF652.
In 1936, J.A. Baldwin engineered a lube filter that trumped current designs and began producing it in a facility in Wisconsin. In 1981, the J.L. Clark Manufacturing Company bought Baldwin Filters, and soon the company opened additional facilities in Mexico, Europe, Australia, South Africa, China, and Morocco. Baldwin Filters bought Hastings Premium Filters in 1995 and has expanded its Nebraska research, testing, and manufacturing facilities to almost one million square feet. Try the Baldwin BF1212 Fuel Filter.
Fuel Filter Pricing
- $16 to $27: This price range features fuel filters for diesel pickup truck engines. Some are the spin-on oil type, but most are element-only type filters (gaskets included). Both types do the job at an economical price.
- $28 to $45: These filter kits include the element, housing, and seals. They are mostly the spin-on type with some in-line filters. Use them on diesel pickup truck engines.
- $46 to $87: This price range includes water separator-type filters, cartridge filters, spin-ons, and in-line versions. The cartridge filters are for European cars, while the other types are for American-made diesel pickup truck engines.
Obviously you want the filter you choose to be the correct one for your SUV or truck. It’s rare that fuel filter replacement is a consideration for passenger cars because most passenger cars have permanent filters located in the gas tank that last the lifetime of the vehicle. Check the specifications for your vehicle for a part number and/or engine size, and match the year, make, and model so you can determine the correct filter before you buy.
Type of Engine
Many gas-powered cars and trucks do not need replacement fuel filters. But a gas-powered truck may require periodic replacement, as do diesel-powered SUVs and trucks. Diesel fuel contains more contaminants than gasoline, so replacing the fuel filter is therefore a maintenance item.
Ease of Replacement
Before you buy a fuel filter, check to make sure you can access the one in your vehicle. If it is difficult to access, you may want a professional to replace the component. Along with the location, determine if replacing the fuel filter is within your mechanical ability. If it is not something you understand or is something you’d prefer not to do, have a professional replace the filter instead.
- Quality and Value: Read the reviews and the FAQs about the fuel filter you would like to buy. There you will find information about the quality of your choice of filter. Other important information are its value and fit. All of this can help you pick the best fuel filter for your needs.
- Safety: When replacing a fuel filter, you inevitably spill some gasoline or diesel fuel. Wear protective rubber gloves and safety glasses, and use a container to catch the spill. You cannot reuse the fuel after it spills, so you have to be prepared to dispose of it properly according to local and state environmental laws because fuel is considered a hazardous liquid.
- Microns: This is a measurement of the size of particles filtered out by a fuel filter. Most diesel and gas fuel filters are rated at 10 microns, which is sufficient to filter out most of the debris truck and car drivers need to be concerned about. However, if you have any questions, contact the manufacturer or distributor, especially in cases where extreme weather is a factor.
Best Fuel Filters Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This filter stops engine stalls and poor starting problems. It ensures a constant flow of gas to the fuel system and blocks debris, contaminants, and impurities that are often present in diesel fuel.
The filter features a rust-resistant, stainless steel housing. Connectors and support washers are brazed, which provides durability and strength. It works on the 2011-2016 Ford Superduty 6.7L trucks.
The filter removes 90 percent of debris that is bigger than 20 microns. Also, be aware that some buyers found the O-ring was missing in the packaging. Do not attempt to install the filter without the O-ring. Other buyers report that the fuel filter does not fit on model years 2016 and 2017 Ford F-250 6.7L diesel engines.
This replacement fuel filter stops dirt, rust, metal, and paint from going into the fuel system. It is specially designed to protect important parts like spark plugs and fuel injectors that could otherwise be damaged.
The filter fits all GM trucks that have diesel engines. These include Savana, Sierra, and Silverado. It’s easy to install on most of these vehicles, and your purchase includes all seals. The filter has a strong metal housing with a hex end for ease of removal and installation.
Some buyers report that the filter is hard to screw on. Others report that the seal does not seal well, so watch out for leaks. If you spot a leak, discard the filter and purchase another one to avoid any damage.
Baldwin is an American manufacturer. This element fuel filter filters out dirt and debris before it can reach delicate motor parts like fuel injectors where it can cause damage.
The filter is designed to fit diesel motors like the Cummins 6.7L in Dodge Ram. It is a well-made filter that improves performance and allows engines to last longer. It fits OEM fuel canisters and filters out debris as small as five microns.
Some buyers report that the package erroneously says “spin-on” filter. Check to see if it fits on your particular truck because some buyers have reported it does not fit on some Cummins 6.7 diesel motors.
- If you cannot locate the fuel filter, it may be inside your vehicle’s gas tank. While this makes it almost impossible for you to replace the filter yourself, most in-tank filters are made to last the life of the vehicle.
- Working with the fuel system and around gasoline can be hazardous. Always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and safety glasses for eye protection. Work in a well-ventilated area, since some gasoline is going to escape from the old filter and fuel line during the replacement.
- Research the size and type of the fuel filter required on your vehicle before you order one. Ordering the correct filter the first time saves time, money, and aggravation.
Q: How do I know if I need to replace my fuel filter?
A: You may experience a rough-running engine, loss of power in all gears, and/or difficulty starting. You may also experience lower gas mileage, stalling, and engine misfiring.
Q: Can I replace a fuel filter myself?
A: It depends on where the filter is located, whether you have the proper tools, and whether you want to spend the time and energy to do it yourself. If the fuel filter is located inside the fuel tank, a DIY replacement is almost impossible. Other filters, such as those in pick-up trucks, are relatively easy for home mechanics to access, so it’s more likely you can install a new one yourself. The basic tools you need are relatively common—like screwdrivers and pliers—but specialty tools called disconnect tools are also available to help you with the job.
Q: Is it a good idea to change a fuel filter often?
A: It depends. Some diesel truck owners change the fuel filter every time they change the oil because diesel fuel can be dirty. Check with a knowledgeable mechanic or your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.