Fuel pump or fuel filter. Which is bad?

A fuel filter and a fuel pump are two essential components found in the car’s fuel system. Each has a specific function; a fuel pump uses a criterion of pump vacuum induction to draw gas from the gas tank.

The induced pressure then pushes fuel to move via the fuel line to the engine. Before the fuel reaches the engine, it goes through the fuel filter.

The fuel filter is usually located before the carburetor or fuel injection system. The work of a fuel filter is to filter or screen out rust particles, debris, dust, dirt, and any other contaminant in the fuel not to get into the engine.

However, these two parts may cause you to sweat once they experience issues. Both depend on each other as they all work on the same liquid(fuel).

The biggest issue they may have in common is causing the car not to start. It is not easy to determine at a glance what the problem is, whether it is a bad fuel filter or fuel pump.

How do I know if it is my fuel filter or fuel pump?

It may be challenging to know whether it is a fuel filter or a fuel pump, as both may cause some common symptoms to your car. However, you will experience some specific problems in each case. For a bad fuel filter, your vehicle will experience the following;

a.Difficulty when starting the car

A fuel filter may be clogged, and this will restrict fuel from flowing to the engine responsible for producing power.

b.Unusual burning of fuel

A clogged fuel filter will cause the engine to run lean. As a result, it will be wasting fuel due to working harder to maintain the car running.

c.Car jerks, especially when moving uphill

Once the fuel filter goes bad due to clogging, there will be no flow of gasoline through it. As a result, the engine will starve and will need additional fuel.

Eventually, the car will jerk since the fuel pump will be working hard to pump fuel but the gasoline is not flowing freely and quickly. You will experience car jerks, especially when moving uphill.

d.Engine stalls during idling

Clogged fuel filters will cause the engine to stall, especially when the engine is stressed to work harder. For example, when accelerating or going uphill.

e.Engine power is going down

The first thing you should think of when your car starts losing power under increased load, like when accelerating, is the fuel filter. When the fuel filter becomes clogged, it will limit the required fuel supply to the engine.

f.Failed fuel pump

If you experience a failure of your car fuel pump, you may have a clogged fuel filter. A clogged fuel filter causes the fuel pump to work harder than usual, and it may cause the fuel pump to stop working.

How will you tell it is a bad fuel pump and not a failed fuel filter?

  • Your car won’t start
  • The engine shuts off immediately after starting
  • The fuel pump makes unusual sounds
  • The engine shuts off randomly while driving
  • Your car engine experiencing roughness or hesitating when accelerating

Should you replace the fuel filter when you replace the fuel pump?

Yes, when you decide to replace a failed fuel pump with a new one, also consider installing a new fuel filter. It is essential because you will have provided a solution if a clogged fuel filter has caused the failure of the fuel pump.

How much does it cost to replace a bad fuel filter

A fuel replacement can cost about $50 and $175 for most car models. But if you can do the replacements by yourself, you can get the parts at about $10 to $70.

If you decide to hire a mechanic, be ready to spend between $100 to $ 200 for both the replacement labor costs and the cost of the parts.

How much does it cost to replace a failing fuel pump?

The cost of replacing a fuel pump varies depending on age and vehicle model. But on average, a fuel pump replacement can cost about $220 to $1,062.

Replacement parts can cost between $95 to $854, while labor costs can be $124 to $260. However, these are just estimates, and they can either increase or decrease.

These estimates do not include fees and taxes. Generally, replacing a fuel pump begins at $380, including labor costs and parts.


While it is challenging to know whether it is a bad fuel filter or fuel pump, there are specific signs you can tell which is the exact problem with your car’s fuel system.

However, your vehicle may fail to start because of a clogged fuel filter or fuel pump. If you find your vehicle is experiencing issues with the fuel system, reach your mechanic for the replacement of damaged parts.

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