There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn’t seem right. Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember, because it is a long list, but your service center can help you know what’s scheduled to be taken care of. Some of us really don’t look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends. But automotive maintenance is all about prevention, and addressing small problems before they get big. Let’s take the fuel filter for example. You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our roads is over nine years.
When cars get older, five years or so, they’ve accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation – is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn’t cost too much to replace. And your car will just run better too. A clogged fuel filter can’t let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your car is running fine around town, but struggles or sputters on the freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can’t get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.
Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We’ve already talked about how expensive that can be. The fuel filter is even very important for newer cars. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn’t rust in the tank. It’s just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older. How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner’s manual. Your service advisor can tell you as well. It’s usually around thirty thousand miles or so. Ask if it’s time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand. It’s good to know that your service center has your back. When you’re motivated to maintain your vehicle’s performance and to reduce operating costs, you’ll think of your service center as your ally – and maybe even your memory.