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Do I Need to Replace My Fuel Filter?

CARS.COM — Replacing a fuel filter isn’t listed as a regular maintenance item on most vehicles, and in those cases it generally doesn’t need attention unless it’s diagnosed as the cause of hard starting, loss of power, hesitation or similar issues.

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However, some car manufacturers, including Volkswagen, Subaru and Mercedes-Benz, recommend periodic replacement of the fuel filter. VW, for example, says to replace it every 20,000 miles on many current models, and Subaru says you should install a new one every 60,000 miles. Mercedes used to commonly recommend replacing a new filter every 30,000 miles, but most current models say to change it every 150,000 miles or 15 years.

Whether a fuel filter needs periodic service can also differ by model or engine within the same manufacturer. On most Ford vehicles, for example, the fuel filter isn’t mentioned in the maintenance schedule. If you drive a diesel-powered F-250 pickup truck, though, Ford calls for both fuel filters (one on the engine, another on the frame) to be replaced every 15,000 miles. Other manufacturers may have similar recommendations for their diesel engines’ fuel systems; check with yours to be sure you’re replacing the filter at the right intervals.

If the fuel filter isn’t listed as a maintenance item, it might be that the filter is integrated with the fuel pump inside or on the fuel tank. To replace it, you have to replace the whole setup.

The filter is supposed to catch and remove any contaminants and impurities from the fuel line that could damage the engine. Sediment can get into a vehicle’s fuel tank when you pump fuel from the bottom of a storage tank at a gas station, and that can clog the filter or restrict the flow of fuel.

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