Ford Escort owners are fortunate when changing the fuel filter on their vehicle; the Escort's fuel filter is located in the engine bay (driver's side) against the firewall. The fuel filter in most vehicles is located underneath, along the frame; this requires lifting and supporting the vehicle with a jack and jack stands. When replacing the fuel filter in a Ford Escort, you don't have to do either.
Relieve the fuel system pressure with a fuel pressure gauge if your Escort is a 1997 to 1999 model. The 1997 to 1999 models have a fuel pressure relief valve located on the fuel rail. Turn the engine off, remove the valve and attach the gauge. Open the valve on the gauge to relieve the fuel pressure. Disconnect the negative battery cable when you are finished.
Relieve the fuel pressure manually if your Escort is a 1991 to 1996 model. These models do not have a fuel pressure relief valve. Turn the engine off and remove the rear seat cushion. Remove the fuel tank access plate and disconnect the electrical connections attached to the fuel pump. Start the engine and let it run until it shuts off. Reconnect the fuel pump electrical connections, replace the access cover and replace the rear seat cushion. Disconnect the negative battery cable when you are finished.
Remove the fuel filter retaining clip. The Escort's fuel filter has a small, white clip attaching the hose to the filter (it looks like a staple). Pull this clip out with a pair of pliers.
Pull the hose off manually. With the clip removed, the hose is easy to remove. Insert the clip into the disconnected hose: it must be attached to the hose to install the new filter.
Remove the screw from the fuel filter clamp. This will loosen the clamp and allow you to remove the fuel filter. Pull the fuel filter out manually. Note the direction of the arrow on the fuel filter: you'll need to install the new fuel filter with the arrow pointing in the same direction.
Insert the new fuel filter into the mount. Tighten the screw on the clamp to secure the fuel filter. Reattach the hose: you'll have to push the hose firmly to secure it.
Reconnect the negative battery cable. Turn your ignition key to the "On" position for a few seconds before cranking the engine: this will rebuild fuel pressure.
Crank the engine and inspect the fuel filter connections for leaks.
Don't change the fuel filter without relieving the fuel system pressure -- fuel is under intense pressure; it could cause injury. Don't smoke when changing the fuel filter. Always wear gloves when working in your engine bay.