The fuel filter is an important element of the fuel injection system. It plays the important role of filtering the fuel whose quality is, unfortunately, independent of the driver. Fuel filters in common rail diesel engines or direct injection systems are more sensitive to contaminants than filters applied in petrol engines, which, however, does not mean that the latter can be treated with less care.
Irrespective of the type of engine your car is equipped with, you should take good care of its filter. Regular filter replacement will keep it running for years.
The quality of the diesel and other fuels is each year examined by the Trade Inspection, which publishes reports based on their analyses. According to the 2014 report, the number of diesel engine owners buying cheaper fuel is increasing. Over 6 per cent of samples collected nationwide failed to meet the criteria for products suitable for marketing. According to the research, poor quality diesel fuel is most popular among drivers from the łódzkie, wielkopolskie and podkarpackie provinces. Drivers from the regions of Kujawy, Pomorze and the lubuskie and opolskie provinces tend to buy better quality diesel fuel.
The situation appears to be much better when it comes to unleaded petrol. Only 1.9 per cent of samples collected nationwide last year failed to meet the standards, as compared to 3 per cent in previous years.
Fuel filter – engine protection
The fuel system of each car is exposed to different types of contamination, which results not only from poor quality fuel. The sediment settling all over the fuel system forms naturally irrespective of where you buy your fuel. In addition, water that precipitates out of fuel exposed to temperature fluctuations causes the tank walls to corrode. Most of the rust particles formed this way are blocked by the mesh on the fuel pump, but some of the smaller ones manage to make their way into it.
This is when the fuel filter comes in to protect the engine from contamination. The fuel filter is an integral part of each car engine. It is made of special filter paper capable of blocking particles of up to 5 micrometres. The filter blocks all contaminants posing a threat to the injectors. It not only prevents small particles from penetrating the system, but also protects the car from the negative effects of chemical compounds, water, organic particles and micro-organisms.
Fuel filter types
Petrol engines are usually equipped with flow filters, while diesel engines use cartridges and screw-on filters.
All filters may look alike, but they do differ. Choosing the right one may not be easy, as it is difficult to tell a branded filter from an aftermarket one at first glance. The difference, however, is plain to see when you examine them from the inside. Filters differ in terms of the quantity of the filtering material used in them, which is verifiable only by experienced garage staff. As each filter should be chosen not only based on quality but also engine parameters, the best idea is to have it done by a professional garage.
When does a fuel filter require replacing?
According to the tests carried out by filter manufacturers, a typical filter operates efficiently for about 40 thousand kilometres. But does it really? Not necessarily. Its wear level depends on a large number of variables,
the most important of which is the quality of fuel. The better the fuel, thanks to the application of a variety of additives, the longer the useful life of a filter.
The engine parameters matter, too. While petrol engine filters may be used longer, diesel engines require filter change more often. This is particularly true about diesel engines with turbo chargers. Injection engine manufacturers recommend filter change after 15-20 thousand kilometres, especially if you travel short distances or use your car mainly in the city.
However, irrespective of whether you drive a petrol or diesel engine car, you should always have your fuel filter replaced when recommended, rather than await the first signs of a malfunction. The cost of a filter is much lower than the cost of repairing a damaged fuel injection system.
The following is a list of serious malfunctions that may result from not replacing your fuel filter for a long time:
Fuel filter at low temperatures
The best time to change the fuel filter is in the autumn. Winter is a big challenge for the fuel filter. The lower the temperature, the more problems with fuel you may have. Cars with petrol engines are vulnerable to the freezing of the water that gathers at the bottom of the fuel tank. Diesel engines, in turn, are vulnerable to paraffin deposition resulting from sub-zero temperatures. The effect is the same irrespective of the engine type - fuel hoses and filters become clogged.
Make sure to have your fuel filter changed by a professional garage, as this procedure requires disconnecting the fuel system and letting fuel out of the hoses. To do it, you need the right knowledge and experience, e.g. that held by the professional staff of the Motointegrator Partner garages – a chain of over five thousand garages offering different vehicle maintenance and repair services. Their quality is attested by Inter Cars S.A. - one of the leading spare parts distributors in Central and Eastern Europe. Use the Motointegrator.pl search engine to find the nearest garage.