Fuel Filter Service

See also our Fuel Filter Discussion.


WARNING: Gasoline is extremely flammable, so take extra precautions when you work on any part of the fuel system; such as -

  • Don't smoke or allow open flames or bare light bulbs near the work area.
  • Don't work in a garage where a natural gas-type appliance (such as a water heater or clothes dryer) with a pilot light is present.
  • If you spill any fuel on your skin, rinse it off immediately with soap and water.
  • When you perform any kind of work on the fuel tank, wear safety glasses and have a Class B type fire extinguisher on hand.


Note: In cars with the fuel filter located below the fuel tank under the car, replacement is easier if the fuel tank is empty. Try to schedule fuel filter replacement when the tank is nearly empty. For standard Bugs with a fuel filter inside the tank, the tank MUST be empty, as you will have to remove the gas tank to get at the filter.

Often times poor performance (or NO performance!) can be traced to the fuel filter, which is located under the fuel tank. Rob had an interesting experience in this regard -

When I examined the filter it looked okay, and when I blew backwards though it I had no trouble blowing air through it. But I discovered that the thing was apparently partially blocked - enough that only a trickle of fuel could get through. So giving it a rest allowed what was in the pump to leak through and partly fill the bowl in the carburetor, then as I drove, the trickle was less than the fuel use and eventually the car conked out again.

Lesson learned -- When in doubt, replace the filter! It can cause you serious headaches if it gets clogged or even partially clogged. The filter is very inexpensive (your local auto parts store will probably have them) and relatively easy to replace.


Clogged Fuel Filter


Clogged and New Fuel Filters



Here’s how to replace the fuel filter located under the fuel tank in the right-front wheel well -

  1. Firmly set the parking brake.
  2. Loosen the lug nuts on the right front wheel.
  3. Raise the front of the car and put it on jack stands so you can get under it. Make sure the car is stable before you crawl under it!
  4. Remove the right front wheel.
  5. Note: You ARE going to spill some gas - a lot if you're not careful!! Be prepared with a flat metal pan to put under the working area (before you begin work on the fuel filter!), a quart jar to catch gas as you break connections, a couple of sharpened pencils, and lots of rags.

  6. Clamp off the hoses on either side of the fuel filter by whatever means is available to you.
  7. Note: Dave has tried various means of clamping the hoses, with only marginal success, lots of frustration, and lots of spilled gas. He has found that the following method is easiest and results in the least amount of gas spillage.

  8. Loosen the hose clamp on the upstream side of the filter (that is, the hose coming from the fuel tank) and pull that hose off of the fuel filter.
  9. QUICKLY plug the fuel line with a sharpened pencil and (also quickly) place the open filter into the quart jar. Allow the fuel to drain back (from the fuel pump) through the filter and into the jar.
  10. Note: You will probably need to built a little pedestal out of 2x4's or something to set the jar on, as the removed line won't extend all the way down to it. There won't be much gas spillage in any event, since with the front of the car raised the fuel line is sloping toward the rear of the car.

  11. Remove the fuel line from the other end of the old filter, leaving the line to continue draining into the jar (if necessary).
  12. Attach the larger end of the new filter to the line out to the fuel pump (there will be an arrow on the filter indicating the direction of flow), and secure it with a hose clamp.
  13. QUICKLY remove the pencil plugging the line from the fuel tank and attach the end of the line to the smaller end of the new fuel filter. Secure the line to the filter with a hose clamp.
  14. Note: It is important to attach the line from the fuel tank to the filter as quickly as possible, as there may be up to ten gallons of head behind this line!

Note: Note the direction of flow carefully. It's easy to get the hoses mixed up and install the filter backwards.

Please note: If you have a filter between the fuel pump and the carburetor, GET RID OF IT! It is unnecessary and a serious safety hazard. If the hose were to come loose from the filter, you’d have gasoline everywhere, very near all of the sparking action that’s going on inside the distributor. You’ll have to get a new section of fuel hose to run between the fuel pump and the carburetor; this is readily available from your friendly local auto parts store. Again, we highly recommend hose clamps on all the connection points.

If you insist on having a second filter between the fuel pump and the carburetor, here's how to replace it -

  1. Detach the lower hose (the one coming from the fuel pump) and put a pencil in it.
  2. Pull the old filter out of the upper hose. Catch the gas that leaks out of the filter in a cup (there won't be much). Discard the old filter.
  3. Insert the new filter, working quickly to prevent gas from leaking out of the lower hose. Be sure the arrow on the filter points in the direction of fuel flow (from the fuel pump to the carburetor).

While you're here, clean the filter screen in the fuel pump (if there is one - usually only on standard Bugs), as follows -

  1. Remove the screw or bolt on the top of the fuel pump and lift the cover off.
  2. Remove the screen; clean it with solvent and reinstall it with a new gasket.
  3. Reinstall the fuel pump cover, being very careful not to break the top gasket (voice of experience!).


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