Diesel fuel filters - what to do if yours is blocked

Diesel fuel filters - what to do if yours is blocked
Diesel fuel filters play an essential part in keeping a vehicle’s fuel clean and the engine running at optimum performance.

This has become increasingly important with the latest developments in diesel engine technology. Today’s diesel engines run at very fine tolerances and extremely high fuel pressures.

As a result, any blockages in the filter can lead to the fuel not reaching the engine in sufficient quantities, which will result in very poor performance, or even prevent the engine from starting.

Diesel fuel filters

The difference between a clean versus a dirty diesel fuel filter

Paying particular attention to the service regimes outlined by the manufacturer is vital in keeping your vehicle’s engine running smoothly and hassle-free, as the alternative can lead to poor engine efficiency, poor fuel economy, and possibly an unwanted breakdown.

The RAC attends in the region of 800 diesel fuel filter-related breakdowns every month, but this can increase to around 1,500 a month during the harsher winter months.

This is mainly attributed to a few contributing factors. Some fuel filters are not very well protected from the elements due to their location – for example underneath the vehicle on the chassis or in certain areas of the engine bay.

Diesel fuel filters blocked

Although many manufacturers include a diesel pre-warming device, this is not always enough to prevent the fuel from freezing and becoming gel-like in the depths of winter, particularly when you also factor in wind-chill from air moving over the filter.

This freezing action can be accelerated if the fuel filter is contaminated by the likes of water from condensation or, if for some reason, the vehicle still has summer grade diesel without the all-important protective winter additive, which is added by the fuel companies at source. This is why it is essential to make sure your vehicle is always serviced according to manufacturer guidelines.

In summary, if you follow a few simple rules you should be able to substantially reduce the risk of breaking down due to a blocked fuel filter:

  • Most importantly, keep your vehicle serviced as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Never add performance enhancing additives to your fuel without consulting the vehicle manufacturer, not only could this result in a breakdown, it may also void your warranty
  • Always purchase your fuel from a recognised fuel station retailer

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