Changing the Fuel Filter
Ford Explorer Fuel Filter Replacement

Contributed by Phil Flowers

One other item you may add to your list of common fixes is the fuel filter. I think too many people forget about this and it is straight forward and a good preventative maintenance. From my experience if it hasn't been changed by 40-50 K get it changed. You're just asking for fuel pump problems. The more restriction there is in the fuel path the harder that pump works to push fuel. It's located just under the driver's seat on the frame rail.

You will need a 13mm socket/wrench, and a flat screwdriver to undo the supporting bracket/clamp respectively. A special tool is required on most models to release the fuel line; however, it is relatively cheap and can be obtained at your local parts store. It is used like a quick-disconnect to undo the fuel line.

Once disconnected the new filter is just snapped on the line with ease and the safety clips can be reinstalled and thus the filter remounted. Interestingly, take your old filter and turn it opposite of the fuel flow and empty it in a coffee can. To see just how plugged it was getting, try blowing backwards on the filter and you can see a lot of the sediment come out in the can.

Contributed by Ken Simms

I have a suggestion for the section on replacing the fuel filter. Seems like to me, people in the newsgroup have suggested relieving the fuel pressure before removing the filter. If memory serves me, some have suggested pulling the fuse and running the engine a bit. Apparently more than one person has experienced a gas shower if the this is not done. Also I think they said it would be wise to wear eye protection, to be on the safe side. I hope this is helpful.

Contributed by Mark McLauchlin

The real key to removing the special fittings from the fuel filter is the technique employed using the special fitting removal tool. Once the fuel pressure has been relieved and the filter mounting bracket and band clamp have been loosened and moved out of the way, proceed as follows:

Remove the lock clips that are placed over the fuel filter tubing and the fittings. They should come off without having to use excessive force. A small screwdriver inserted into the open end of the clip at the fitting end can serve as extra leverage if needed to get the clip off.

Grasp the fuel filter in one hand and one of the fittings in the other. Try gently moving the fitting back and forth while it is still in place. Notice that there is about 1/8" to 3/16" worth of movement. Pull gently until the fitting is all the way back as far as it will move. Clip the special fitting removal tool (the tool should be designed to work with 3/8" fuel lines) over the fuel filter tubing. Now push the fuel line fitting towards the tool as far as it will go. While still holding the fitting in, use your pointer and index fingers on the same hand holding the fitting to pull the fitting removal tool "into" the fitting itself as far as it will go (the tool should "bottom"). Still grasping the fitting and tool together, pull them back in the direction for removal, keeping the tool inserted in the fitting (important). At some point, the tool will stop as it hits the fitting retainer "nub" on the filter tubing. Keep the tool pressed against the retainer nub (use ! ! your other hand now for this) and continue pulling the fitting off of the tubing. It should come off with only a few pounds of force. Repeat the procedure for the other fitting.

It is important to push the fitting in towards the filter to engage the fitting removal tool as this relieves the tension on the "fingers" prior to insertion of the tool. If you don't push the fitting all the way towards the filter first, the tool will not release the retainer spring and you won't be able to pull the fittings off. This is the mistake that I made repeatedly the first time I tried changing the filter in my vehicle. Don't use the tool to try and "pull" the fitting off with - it isn't supposed to work that way.


The fuel filter holds a fair amount of gasoline so have a small cup and a rag ready to catch or soak up any spillage (there will be some). If any gasoline gets onto the frame rail, it will remove the protective coating and paint, so be sure to wipe it off immediately (I didn't and now have a couple of bare spots on the frame to show for it!)

The new filter simply installs by pushing the fuel line fittings onto the filter until the fitting locks (you'll hear it click). Be sure that the filter is installed with the flow arrow pointing in the proper direction (towards the front of the vehicle). Reinstall the lock clips over each fitting and the band clamp and filter bracket.

Contributed by Shade

I have a 1998 Explorer Sport 4x4. The fuel pump wire harness is in under the floormatt on the front passanger side. Disconnect it and take the cap off your gas tank, then start your engine and let it run until it quits.

My trucks fuel filter is under the driver's side door and is held on by a clamp Godzilla would have problems prying the filter from. But pry it out I did with a big screw driver. It was at this juncture I used some fuel filter release rings I purchased at Auto Zone for 10 bucks (thats alot of dough for some plastic rings, but you NEED them). once I slid the rings on and pulled off the first hose, A LOT of fuel came out and went right through the vent holes of my safety glasses. Luckly I anticipated this and had a garden hose & 10 year old boy standing by - felt like acid in my eyes.

As funny as it may seem to recommend this, I would consider having a garden hose near by and a 10 year old boy to scream at "TURN IT ON, TURN IT ON!" as you do the hokey pokey. WEAR A SCUBA MASK when you yank off the filter hose and have a bucket near by to let it drain. Then install the new filter, hose down any spilt gass on the frame or a rust you will get. Reconnect the fuel pump wire harness, put gas cap back on and start that puppy, may take a couple of trys till the fuel cycles through.




Updated November 21, 2000

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