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What Is A Fuel Filter?

What Is A Fuel Filter?

Jul 22, 2019

To ensure all of the fuel reaching your engine is clean, it must pass through one (or two) filters specially designed to catch and hold any impurities present. “Impurities” can include sediment that collects at the bottom of a fuel tank over time. Sediment even affects brand new vehicles if they fill up from a gas station with an underground storage tank that’s recently been filled and effectively “stirred up”. Whether gunk in the fuel originates from sediment or poor quality gasoline doesn’t matter, it must be prevented from reaching the engine where it can cause real harm.

Cleaning the fuel that’s sent to the engine also keeps fuel injectors spraying at full force instead of becoming clogged up and ineffective. 

Where Is A Fuel Filter Located?

The location of a fuel filter varies from vehicle to vehicle. On many newer cars and trucks, the filter is located in the fuel tank where it may or may not be part of an integrated fuel pump module assembly. Or, it may be mounted on the vehicle frame outside of the tank where it’s surrounded by a protective shield. Many vehicles are equipped with two filters – one inside the tank, and one outside the tank along the fuel line somewhere.

In some cases where the filter is inside the fuel tank, it may fall under the category of “non-serviceable” if it’s part of an integrated pump assembly. This means the pump contains a permanently-mounted filter element that’s not designed for regular replacement. Instead, it’s only replaced when and if a new fuel pump is installed.

However, some filters mounted in the top of the fuel tank are designed for easy replacement thanks to an access portal located below a removable rear passenger seat cushion. If you’re not sure which type of setup your vehicle has, the owners manual should clarify whether the filter is serviceable or not. For better visualization of in-tank fuel filters.