Not many know that it’s pretty standard for water to be found in vehicle fuel tanks. This water isn’t from leaks due to rainfall or carwashes. It’s actually from condensation. Some air always enters when fuel is pumped into the tank. Moisture in this air later condenses.
When mixed with fuel, Dew (water droplets) formed by condensation can cause lots of damage. These include:
- Affecting fuel oil’s lubrication of sensitive engine parts,
- Displacing the fuel oil layer, letting friction occur between moving parts,
- Promoting oxidation of contact surfaces, resulting in corrosion and pitting,
- Contaminating the fuel-air mix during combustion, causing poor engine performance.
A fuel water separator prevents these problems. It is a critical component in a 6.7 Powerstroke fuel filter.
The fuel filter also prevents other contaminants from entering the combustion area.
These include dirt, metal flakes, or rust particles transferred via fuel nozzles when filling up.
Further, sludge and dirt can accumulate in underground tanks and pipelines at fuel stations. Guess where some of these can end up.
Given how critical a fuel filter is in keeping your vehicle running smoothly, here are some essential tips to consider.
Fuel filter problems
The standard service interval for an engine oil change for the Ford 6.7 Powerstroke is 7,500 miles.
Ford also recommends changing both fuel filters every 3rd oil change or every 22,500 miles.
Even if mileage is low, every two years at worst is how often to change fuel filter on a 6.7 Powerstroke.
Abnormal driving conditions could also cause the dashboard to display an alert if there are problems.
It isn’t easy to recognize symptoms of a bad fuel filter specifically.
Because symptoms can also point to other component issues, it’s easy to overlook the fuel filter. Hence, keeping an eye on the mileage is a good reminder.
Spluttering at high speed
One of the earliest symptoms of fuel filter issues would be the engine sputtering at high speed.
The fuel filter may not be badly clogged just yet. But there’s just enough blockage to prevent higher amounts of fuel through to the engine.
Such engine spluttering can also be noticed when ferrying or towing a heavy load.
Difficult to start
When the clogging of the fuel filter worsens, it will be difficult for the engine to start.
Without a proper fuel supply, combustion can’t take place correctly. It may take a few tries to get enough fuel-air mix into the combustion chamber.
The idling will sound very rough when the engine does get started because of the low fuel-air mix ratio.
It may also sound like it’s about to stall. With such an alert, bringing the vehicle serviced should become a priority.
If left unchecked, the fuel filter may get so clogged that the engine won’t even start. At this point, replacing it may be the only fix possible.
Preventing fuel filter failure
The common wisdom is that some steps can be taken to avoid fuel filter failure or delay. Perhaps the most debated about is when to fill up at fuel stations.
Early morning fill-ups
Due to less traffic in the wee hours, there’s less churn in underground storage tanks at fuel stations.
This means cleaner fuel will flow through the nozzle when filling up.
This is a fallacy as fuel is pumped from the bottom of underground tanks. There are also filters to trap sediment and sludge to ensure clean fuel flows through nozzles.
So fill-up timing doesn’t make any difference if the aim is to avoid sludge intake.
Fuel flowing into underground tanks from tankers will churn up sediment and sludge. Filling up at this stage would entail more impurities flowing through the nozzle.
While churning does occur, filters in underground tanks will prevent dross and scum from entering nozzles.
The usual practice is for these filters to be cleaned out after tanker refills.
These filters are double stacked, meaning there’s always one in place while the other is cleaned.
Seepage into tanks
Cracks can allow water and mud to seepage into underground fuel tanks. Filters won’t stop water from flowing through pump nozzles.
While this type of incident is rare, it does occur. There’s no way to detect seepage via underground fuel tank cracks until some vehicles actually break down.
In such instances, the fuel station operator or insurance would cover repair costs.
Filling petrol into diesel tanks and vice versa is the most common reason for sudden fuel filter failures. Such human carelessness or plain ignorance happens.
The best fix is to NOT start the vehicle, get it towed to the workshop instead.
The wrong fuel must be drained and internal components cleaned before the correct fuel is poured in.
Basically, all anyone can do to prevent or delay fuel filter failures is pay attention when filling up.
Otherwise, all other problems are caused by normal wear and tear. Regular servicing, as prescribed, can address these issues before they become problems.
Changing the Fuel Filter on a 6.7 Powerstroke
Once problems start, it’s no longer if but when to change fuel filter on a 6.7 Powerstroke.
For those used to tinkering around under the hood, this task can be done at home.
It would be good to conduct this replacement when the indicator shows the fuel level is low.
This isn’t a critical need as there’s a fuel pump in-between which acts as a plug. Just remember, some fuel will shoot out due to pressure applied by this pump.
Before starting, let the engine compartment cool to avoid getting heat burns.
If possible, start on this task in the morning after the Ford vehicle has been left overnight.
Take the usual precautions of ensuring the truck is parked safely, and the ignition key is removed.
To replace the fuel filter on a Powerstroke, remember there are actually two separate components.
=One fuel filter is located under the truck, while the second is fitted at the top of the engine compartment.
The task itself is relatively simple, as can be seen in this video. Here are the tools you’d need:
- Jack – to raise the vehicle for access to the lower fuel filter,
- 32mm socket wrench,
- Flathead screwdriver or pick,
- Drain pan,
- Disposable rags, preferably lint-free cloth.
Lower fuel filter
This lower filter incorporates a fuel water separator, and extra care needs to be taken to avoid damaging parts. It’s located at the bottom along the driver’s frame rail.
Place the drain pan below this component, then carefully remove the fluid sensor. Collected water mixed with fuel should start draining out.
The next step is to remove the plastic housing with the 32mm socket wrench. Then twist the plastic housing counterclockwise.
The old fuel filter should come out together. Otherwise, gently twiddle it with fingers till it slides out.
The plastic housing will have sediment and needs to be cleaned out. Wipe till there’s no more grit. To be thorough, use lint-free cloth – including the grooves.
Remove the old ‘O’ ring with the screwdriver or pick. This is essentially a washer to seal the plastic housing to prevent leaks.
Wipe the grooves clean to remove any dirt before fitting on the new ‘O’ ring.
Insert the new filter into the plastic housing, then gently slide these back into the slot.
Once correctly fitted, twist the plastic housing clockwise along the groove by hand. Don’t use the wrench to over-tighten as this may cause the plastic housing to crack.
Tighten the plastic housing like you would a bottle cap, applying just enough pressure. Reattach the fluid sensor. Lower the vehicle and remove the jack.
This entire process should take about 45 minutes to an hour. An experienced person can complete this task much faster, as shown in previous video:
Upper fuel filter
Lift up the hood and look for the fuel filter housing in the engine bay. If you can’t find it based on diagrams in the truck user manual, consult a workshop.
It’s best to place rags around this filter before starting. Some fuel will be dripping. These drips will be from two fuel lines which have to be carefully disconnected first.
You have to squeeze clamps around these fuel lines, then gently pull them off the filter.
Use your hand to twist off the fuel filter counterclockwise. There’s no need to use a wrench.
If it’s too tight to be removed by hand, refasten the fuel lines and get this fuel filter removed at a workshop. It’s best to avoid risks with such a critical component.
Once the old fuel filter comes off, it’s simple to screw in the replacement with clockwise turns.
Again, don’t use force to over-tighten. Reattach the two fuel lines with the clamps. Close the hood.
This task should be completed within 15 minutes, like in this video:
But it’s OK to take longer. Otherwise, haste just results in a wasted effort.
Update truck computer
Like a transplant, the truck’s onboard computer needs to recognize the new fuel filters.
Otherwise, it will light up the dashboard display and refuse to let the engine start. So getting this synced up is the next compulsory step.
Stick in the ignition key and turn it till the electric components like the air conditioning come on. DON’T start the engine!
Leave the electrical components running for about 10-15 seconds, then turn everything off.
Repeat this process after waiting at least 30 seconds. This on-off cycle has to be repeated around 5 times.
What happens with this on-off cycle is the fuel pump replacing fuel lost during the installation process.
With each cycle, pumped-in fuel is pushing out trapped air until it’s completely removed.
Then the fuel is appropriately pressurized, ready to be injected into the engine.
So keep ears open for the fuel pump sound from the very first on-off cycle. After the 5th repeat, the fuel pump shouldn’t be heard anymore.
At this stage, it’s time to start the engine. If this fails, chances are there’s a fuel leak somewhere.
Checks will need to be conducted on both fuel filters. This task involves the entire replacement process again.
If the engine starts up fine, go to the truck’s computer menu. Scroll to Settings, then choose Vehicle, followed by Maintenance, and finally select Fuel Filter.
The display will state, “Hold OK if Fuel Filter Changed.” Do so with the menu controls, and it should change to “Fuel Filter Set to New.”
All this should take about 10 minutes, and the job’s all completed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I change the fuel filter with every 7,500 miles oil change?
Sure. How often to change the fuel filter on a 6.7 Powerstroke depends entirely on you.
These components don’t cost much, and as long as you’re careful to follow through, it doesn’t hurt.
Is it acceptable to delay the fuel filter change if the truck runs fine?
No, you may have already been straining the truck engine without realizing it.
Stick to the recommended replacement schedule for the 6.7 Powerstroke fuel filter. There’s no point risking a more catastrophic failure.
Would it be possible to clean and reuse a fuel filter?
Absolutely not. The filtering material will harden with continued exposure to fuel, gunk, contaminants, and dirt.
Once it hardens, the filtering property is lost as tiny passage holes get clogged. Cracks can also occur.
That’s why there’s a recommended schedule for fuel filters to be replaced.
For such a critical component associated with engine performance, the fuel filter is quite well-hidden.
With regular servicing, chances are the fuel filter won’t give any problems during the truck’s lifetime.
So the best practice is to follow Ford’s recommendation on how often to change the fuel filter on a 6.7 powerstroke.
An extra step every driver should take is to pay attention at the fuel pump. Don’t fill up with the wrong fuel or octane rating.
Minimize how long the fuel tank cap is left open to reduce air moisture intake. Simple steps, which will go a long way to preventing fuel filter failures.