How often do you think about your fuel filter? At oil change time? At tune-up time? Never? Well unfortunately, most VW owners never think twice about one of the most important maintenance items inside their engine compartment.
First question most ask is what does a fuel filter do. It does exactly what the name states: it filters the fuel. The gas you pump into your tank runs through lines under your VW into the fuel pump. The fuel pump then pumps the gas through the fuel filter, which cleans most of the impurities out before the gas reaches the carburetor.
The fuel filter can only do its job if it is changed often. The dirtier the filter, the fewer impurities it catches. The impure gas passes through the dirty filter, then clogs the carburetor, which in turn can causes the carb to fail, and your VW can’t start, idol, or run properly.
There are three types of filters available on the market. The first is a glass cased filter. I don’t recommend these because if the glass is broken it can cause a fire hazard. The second is a metal cased filter. These have a washable filter, but I find these are no good by the side of the highway when you find it clogged. The third is a plastic cased filter with a paper element. I use this type of filter in my shop and find it’s the easiest to maintain. These cost under $2.00 each, and I recommend that you keep at least two in your VW tool box or glove box.
If you find your filter clogged or really dirty you can change it under 5 minutes.
- Grab a filter and your Phillips screwdriver (most fuel line hose clamps are Phillips head but yours may vary). You’ll need to loosen the clamps at the top and bottom of the filter.
- If you have trouble removing the hoses, use your needle nose pliers to pull the hoses off the filter; just be careful not to damage the hose. Some fuel will still be in the line, so please point the hoses AWAY from your face.
- Take the new filter and place it with the arrow pointing up towards the carburetor. Make sure your hose clamps are on the hoses when you install the new filter, or you’ll have to remove it and install the hose clamps on the line.
- With the filter pointing the right direction, install the top of the filter into the hose (as far as it will go), coming from the carb. Tighten the hose clamp and be careful not to tighten it too much as you might break the filter.
- Now install the bottom of the filter into the hose coming from the fuel pump. Tighten the clamp.
If your filter dirties quickly, has brownish dirt colored fuel, or has small debris in it, have your gas tank and fuel lines checked as soon as possible as you may have a problem with your lines or tank.