What are the benefits of changing a fuel filter?

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What are the benefits of changing a fuel filter?
Use proper safety precautions if changing a fuel filter yourself. (man working on car image by palms from Fotolia.com)

A clean fuel filter is essential to an optimally performing engine, and should be changed as a part of regular car maintenance. The fuel filter is located on your car's fuel line, which pumps gas from the tank into the engine. It filters out contaminants to keep the fuel flowing smoothly. The fuel filter should be replaced every 25,000 to 30,000 miles or annually, but check your owner's manual, as the recommendations may vary.

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Engine Performance

Cars made prior to 1980 used mechanical fuel pumps and carburettors that required low fuel pressure to operate. The quick-fix jobs on these vehicles usually consisted of using some hose clamps, scissors, a length of new fuel line and a new fuel filter. Modern fuel injection systems are more complicated and require more regular maintenance. This is because of the increased system operating pressure they require. It is better to change out the fuel filter and perform other fuel system cleaning service as often as recommended in your owner's manual, as this bit of maintenance helps an engine perform better.

Injectors

Fuel filters keep contaminants and other particles from clogging the injectors. A small amount of rust or debris can destroy a fuel injector, and fuel injectors are much more expensive to replace than fuel filters, says AutoMedia.com.

Misfires

A fuel injector that is restricted by 8 to 10 per cent can cause a misfire or other symptoms, according to Injector-Rehab.com. Symptoms of dirty injectors include "lean" misfire -- meaning that there is not enough gas in the mixture of gas and air to burn -- rough idling, sputtering at low speeds, power loss and higher hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions.

Power and Efficiency

Your engine works better and longer when it receives clean gas. A clean fuel filter, therefore, means you can improve the overall performance of your car, including its speed, power and fuel efficiency. The other benefit of changing your fuel filter is that it is a relatively simple, inexpensive process that can save you money -- it is normally included in a tune-up at your mechanic's. Or you can do it yourself to save even more money.

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