FYI: I didnt see a proper fit in technical discussion for "fuel filter", not even a 'maintenance' section. So if it suits someone, move this to a 'help' section somewhere. But thought this could be useful to newbies doing basic maintenance. Also, not sure why the photos are being turned vertical, they dont appear that way on the host site....but each photo is 'supposed' to be viewed here as you're looking at it with the nut side to the right and black/green clip side to the left..the site is editing its position for some reason.
Lets face it, there are a few easily over looked maintenance checks that can make a huge difference in your vehicles health and longevity. Fuel filters are one of them. It's probably one of the cheapest parts that has the biggest job!
This was on a 2004, Chevy Cavalier. Base with a 5spd Getrag F23.
I used a Duralast Fuel Filter, looks just like the AutoZone one but its black and both are $9.99.
The FRAM one is just a brand name cost, its $14.99, dont waste the money.
1. Creep (WAY easier getting in and out from under the car)
2. Saftey equipment; rags, goggles/glasses, mechanic gloves
3. Catch can for fuel drainage
4. Jack and Jack stand
5. 2 adjustable crescent wrenches (dont know the regular wrench size)
6. NEW Fuel filter
1. JACK UP THE REAR END (i did passenger side, it doesnt matter): after you have everything you need, get a level surface and jack up the rear end. I always leave the jack in place and use jack stands AS WELL. (You will not need to remove any wheels for this procedure...you will get in and out from the rear and work on the car with your feet at the rear.)
2. LOCATE THE FUEL FILTER AND PLACE YOUR CATCH CAN: The fuel filter cant be any easier to see, it runs along the cross member (whatever that piece is) and there is sufficient room to work. Have the catch can ready (i use an extra large oil catch pan), as well as your goggles on, and a few rags near by incase you spill fuel onto your face. Fuel dries/evaporates fast, but its still not fun to be saturated in it!
3. REMOVE THE FUEL FILTER (2 STEPS): with your feet at the rear, the fuel filter should have a 'snap on' style connection on the left from the "IN" side of the filter, and the right side or "OUT" should have a nut on the filter that is static, and the line nut (which rotates and slides down the fuel nozzle).
3a. On the right side, Secure the Fuel Filter nut with a crescent wrench, and hold it, while you use the other crescent wrench to turn the fuel line nut counter clockwise (lefty loosey, righty tighty). It shouldnt be too hard to come loose, then as you start to unscrew it with your finger, fuel WILL start to come out. You may get quite a bit like me, I'd say easily more than a coke cans worth or more. I ended up eating some fuel, and got it all over my arm. Then forgot i had a rag and catch can Once this is completely unscrewed, you can slide the nut down the fuel line (you'll know what Im talkin about when its not threaded any longer) and just slip the fuel line out of the end of the filter.
3b. Apparently these are different for different years/models? but the piece that holds the "IN" side of the line to the fuel filter can be tricky, especially if yours is corroded or rusty. Mine had a nice little fitment with a latch and "collar" setup. (Its green in the pics). I simply lifted the latch up, then pushed the collar piece up, it needs to completely snap out or the neck on the fuel filter nozzle wont clear, and you cant pull it out.
4. REMOVE THE FUEL FILTER, REPLACE WITH NEW ONE: pretty self explainatory. You cant even install it wrong, each end has proprietary fitments (one is threaded for the "OUT" and one is simply slid in "IN"). Be sure to snap the collar back on completely, and secure it with the latch. BEFORE YOU GO TO INSTALL THE NEW FILTER, REMOVE THE PLASTIC PIECE ON THE NOZZLE OF THE NEW FUEL FILTER. IT IS NOT NEEDED (SEE PIC). Then on the "OUT" side with the nuts, insert the fuel line nozzle into the filter end, slide the nut over into the threaded area, and carefully hand tighten. Then just make sure you tighten the nuts down fairly well as there is pressure running through and you dont want fuel leaking
5. ENJOY A NICE CLEAN FUEL SYSTEM: Obviously your car wont run the quarter mile a second quicker, but it will help with fuel consistancy and timing. I know for a FACT after changing my spark plugs and fuel filter, I noticed a big difference in the smoothness of the throttle. Mine has 168k miles and I dont think either was ever changed out...
For step 3, some people seem to have a black metal collar that goes around the fuel line going to the "IN" side of the fuel filter. I havent messed with them, so maybe someone can chime in on those to help out. The rest should all be the same, and even other years should be similar (even other vehicles).
now go do your spark plugs, air filter, check your air pressure in the tires, and you'll get better fuel mileage garunteed!
a good tip for getting the nut side off if its stuck, it to us two wrenches and squeeze them together like a pair of pliers. and you can minimize the fuel spill by starting the car and pulling the pump relay, this will help empty the line out.
It's not what you buy,it's what you build!
Nice how to writeup, thanks!
Ive never tried these methods, though I have definitely heard of the pump relay thing but forgot all about it! thanks for the tips! I def had a lot come out of my lines...I think about $2-3 worth of gas hahaa good tip for getting the nut side off if its stuck, it to us two wrenches and squeeze them together like a pair of pliers. and you can minimize the fuel spill by starting the car and pulling the pump relay, this will help empty the line out.