Last week, I decided it was time to change the fuel filter on my '96 DX, because I knew it had never been changed since my family had owned the car. To save time for anyone else who wants to do this, I'm writing this tutorial to help you out.
NOTE: To "properly" change the fuel filter, you are supposed to relieve the fuel pressure. In order to do this, however, you have to disconnect a relay after removing the radio, according to my Hayne's repair manual, which seems like it's way more trouble than it's worth. I proceeded to do this job without releasing the pressure and suffered no ill consequences, but be prepared to lose a little less than a half-gallon of gas. And also be prepared to get greasy, sweaty, and stinky.
+++++ Do NOT do anything that could cause a fire while doing this, and don't park the car near any electrical devices. Also, it wouldn't hurt to wear safety glasses and gloves.+++++
- 17mm socket
- 3/8" ratchet
- 15mm wrench (preferrably a flare nut if available)
- 10mm wrench
- long extension
- shop rags
- drain pan
- magnet (optional, but a lifesaver if you drop bolts a lot)
- a good friend to help out (once again, optional, but can be a lifesaver when you need an extra hand)
STEP 1) Park the car with the wheels turned all the way to the right (this will provide easier access to the bottom of the fuel filter). Pop the hood and locate the fuel filter. It should be mounted on the firewall below the brake master cylinder and brake booster. Remove the small resonator on the side of the air intake facing the firewall with a flat screwdriver (and if it makes the job easier, the rest of the intake pipe as well). Once you have a decent way to access the fuel filter, inspect it and make sure it matches the new replacement one. Also, the new filter should have included two new washers, which you'll need later on. After making sure everything is correct, place a drain pan under the car just behind the left front lower control arm to catch any gas that may run off when you disconnect everything.
STEP 2) Using the 17mm socket, the extension, and the ratchet, loosen the banjo bolt on the top of the fuel filter (you may need to hold the filter to prevent it from twisting). Once you have the bolt out, grab the washers that come off the top and bottom of the bolt and save them in case you need spares for the new filter. Disconnect the fuel line. Gas should start running out of it; be sure to catch as much of it as possible in the drain pan.
STEP 3) Access the bottom of the fuel filter through the hole in the chassis on the left side of the car, behind the front wheel where the tie rod runs through. Loosen the fuel line fitting with a 15 mm wrench and let the gas drain out.
STEP 4) Remove the two bolts attaching the filter to the firewall using the 10mm wrench. When removing the second bolt, hold on to the fuel filter because it will probably fall if you don't (if you have a good extendable magnet, you can use it to hold the filter up). Pull the old fuel filter out of the car and put the new one in its place, reinstalling the two 10mm bolts to hold the filter in place. (NOTE: don't tighten the two bolts just yet, only get them as far in as you need to in order to prevent the filter from falling - this will make the next step easier because you can move the filter around somewhat.)
STEP 5) Reattach the fuel line on the bottom of the filter with the 15mm wrench. Tighten it well, but be careful not to overtighten it.
STEP 6) Go back to the top of the car and install the new washers in the place of the old ones (one between the bolt head and fuel line, one more between the fuel line and filter) and reattach the upper fuel line to the filter. Once again, be careful not to overtighten the bolt. Now tighten up the two 10mm bolts on the firewall to finish the job.
STEP 7) Wait for ALL of the residual gasoline to evaporate from the fuel lines, filter, and chassis components. Once you are sure it's all dry, remove the drain pan and any leftover tools from underneath the vehicle. Start the engine (it will take longer than normal to crank and will probablly sputter for a few seconds) and check for leaks around the fuel filter and on both fuel lines while the car is running. After a thorough inspection without signs of leaks, take the car for a test drive to make sure everything is in working order. Check once again for leaks when you come back. If you don'f find any, CONGRATULATIONS because you are done with the job! Now just clean up the mess you made, put your tools up, and hit the road!
If you have any questions or need more specific directions, be sure to post them here and I will do my best to answer them.
-Zack, driver of the "jade grenade"