Fuel filter replacement is neglected dreadfully by some
people and maintained religiously by others.
This otherwise routine Camry filter replacement turned out to be a problem solving odyssey.
Solving problems is something I teach my students, and so, when we encounter a problem, it's a good thing.
On Ford pickups and SUVs, the filters can be tough to access
but on cars they're pretty easy.
Later model Ford truck fuel filters typically take
special tools (available at the parts store), but before you clamp that tool
around the line on your fuel filter and shove it against those retaining
fingers (which are impossible to see with the filter in place and are built
into the line), you'd better do a good job of rinsing the dirt and grit out of
there, else you may foul your fuel filter retainer fingers up so badly that the
filter can only be removed with a hacksaw and then you'll need to fish that
retainer out of there with picks and whatnot so you can replace it with one
from the dealer. Some aftermarket
sources may have replacement retainers now, but if they do, I'm not aware of
The Ford part number for the replacement retainer is
F5TZ-9J278-A and it's pretty doggone pricey - just one these babies costs more
than the fuel filter @ $22.98.
To clean the area around the retainer fingers I use brake
parts cleaner (always wear safety glasses!)
and compressed air, followed by some kind of penetrating oil or WD-40 type
stuff for lubrication. When you get the
dirt and grit cleaned out, the stainless steel retainer fingers will move very
nicely in response to the tool and you can remove your filter. Trouble is, some yahoo may have already been
Ford cars usually have plastic retainers that are fairly
easy to work with.
GM cars typically use a filter that can be removed with
wrenches, but there are o-rings on the tips of the lines, so be careful with
those. Usually the existing o-ring will
Chrysler has been putting their fuel filter in the tank as a
part of the fuel pump module for quite a few years on some models, but the
Chryslers that do have frame mounted fuel filters have nifty little plastic
retainers similar to the heater hose retainers on some GM cars. Pinch with your fingers to release the
retainer and remove the line from the filter
Toyotas and other Asian makes like to mount their fuel
filters somewhere in the engine compartment with brackets and bolts and
(sometimes) those oddball banjo fittings that use a hollow bolt and copper
washers like the fitting that connects brake lines to wheel calipers. The 94 Toyota Camry I’ll be talking about in
this article had its filter mounted on the driver side shock tower.
The students couldn’t get the fuel line to break loose – it was
a plain old flare nut, and not even with a six point flare nut wrench could it
be moved at all. I tried it myself and
it may as well have been welded.
Before we cut the line (which I knew we were going to have to do), I called Toyota.
No, there was no repair kit, and a fuel line
would be more than a hundred bucks.
Using a high speed abrasive cutter (the one with the 3 inch
abrasive discs) I cut the fuel line right behind the seized up nut.
The following illustrations outline the problem-solving we
had to do in order to get this ragged old Camry back on the road.
This fitting is a ¼ inch pipe to 3/8 hose fitting – not exactly
what we needed, but it could be modified to work, especially since the threads
on this fitting were really near the same pitch as the metric fitting on the
Pipe thread is tapered to seal as it is tightened. The flare nut presses its inverted cone against a matching cone shaped seat in the mating fitting - the two fittings are different in the way they seal, but a pipe fitting (it the thread pitch and diameter are near enough to thesize of the original fitting) will work in spite of its taper.
We cut the barbed hose pipe off the nut (above).
That left the ridge inside the fitting, which had to be
drilled out, so…
We drilled it out.
That made a perfect hole for the line to go through. The fuel line made a 90 degree bend just
below the filter, and we cut that bend off with a tubing cutter, made our flare, and then
reattached the line with a brass 3/8 copper tubing union, which works great on
a fuel line, but don’t ever try to use it on brake lines. Fuel systems have about 40 lbs of
pressure. Brake lines can have up to
2000 lbs and a copper tubing union won’t hold that.
We double flared the line and we were then able to attach
the line to the filter.
This way took a little more work, but we got the Camry going
with no fuel leaks.
Problem solving skills are about 40% intuitive and about 60% learned or taught, but anybody who really wants to solve a problem can make it happen if they just think outside the box. This repair (not counting the fuel filter) cost about $2, which made purchasing a new fuel line (or trying to find a salvage yard part) unnecessary.
That's what real mechanicin' is all about.