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The Case of the 12 Year Fuel Filter

Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
I'm trying to tackle a problem that has persisted against my best efforts as I've gained experience AND against multiple mechanics. Short of tin-snipping the thing off, we're not sure what to do regarding getting a stuck fuel filter off my 1992 F-150 Custom.

I went in with fuel filter removal tools again from Harbor Freight. There's no way to get them on. I now see what every other mechanic has continued to tell me.

Basically, the front hose has maybe 1/4" gap or less between the fuel filter and the line's start. There's not enough room to shove anything in there. I could modify a pen cap per Chris Fix's secondary option or grind down a 3/8" tool so I could get it in there and HOPE it has enough reach to push up and disengage the line. That'd be pretty simple.

However, the REAR line is something else. It has about 2-4 mm of space if that. It's like spark plug gap size between the aft fuel filter and the line's beginning.

As far as I can see there are no plastic retaining clips. I'm not sure if this is the OEM hose, but it has those nice ford blue sleeves with ford writing on them, so I'm guessing this is an OEM line and no one made it a bigger problem than the original engineers did off the assembly line. I have the front tank selected on my fuel switch and it's empty to the point the engine cannot start anymore on that fuel line when selected (to minimize pressure and mess).

I'm uploading a few pictures. Please take a look and let me know. I have paid 2 mechanics to replace this and no one succeeded -- thinking the first one just told me it was done as it's just a fuel filter and charged for it, second one at least was honest that he thought we might have to cut it out as he'd tried every trick he knew (I don't think he shaved a tool down or tried the pen cap trick yet).

Here's Chris Fix's pen trick for reference in the second half of the video.
Chris Fix on Fuel Filter Removal and Installation

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Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
I'm looking at the fittings in the pictures (easier than laying on my back oogling at this thing) and it looks like IF the front can come off, the back might release some pressure and create more space between the fuel filter housing and the fuel line and enable another gap-insert similar to the front.

Should I go for shaving down my 3/8" Pittsburgh Fuel Line Tool so it can go in, or just try the pen cap trick and shove it in there? Not a lot of space, but anything that'll get this swapped out after 12 years of wanting it replaced would be super (fist paid a guy to do it December 2009 and he said he did, but it was the same fuel filter when I got around to looking again). Meh... I get it. It's a tough fuel filter to remove Easier to just say you did it and assume minimal performance issues will follow for awhile. The bill was incredibly cheap for that and a sticky caliper (my first set I ever installed, kept pulling to the right). He did fix the pull on the caliper a bit. I went back at it a year later and got it perfect (and had to replace the rotors anyway). Would have been nice to get my fuel filter back though vs him keeping it to make it look like the job was done. Oh Cheboygan, how I miss you. They now have one less Taco Bell but 3 Pot Shops, so it's got that going for them. :geek:
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
First, the lines are pushed too close. Twist and pull, should get some gap. Then you have torelease teh retainer spring inside.
 

Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
That's the video I found too.
He didn't say pull the lines apart and get more gap (if that's possible, why oh why has no one else figured that out either when attempting on my truck?!)

I'll give it a shot and see if I can't make some space to get a tool in. I have a low profile one coming too on Amazon so if I can make some space, THAT one may go in easier than the HF Pittsburgh set.

On one of the other forums a guy was talking about his problem, but didn't realize he had the little plastic release mechanism not requiring a fuel filter release tool. However, another guy said basically what you said and it took him months to get the gap in the fuel filter. He basically went under and sprayed PB BLaster or WD40 every few days and wrestled with it for an hour before giving up. Eventually one day the gap was big enough and it came apart.

So, I guess I'll have an epic tug o war battle to write ye old poem and ode to sooner or later.

Thanks Fellro!
 
I really have a love hate relationship with those connectors. If the tool you have is the silver reversable set like he showed in the video go to the autopart store and get the smaller plastic spring lock tools and use them. The retainers inside the fitting sometimes rust if the services havent been done in awhile. So could be the case. May need to put a screw driver or small pry bar between the filter and fitting to get it to back out a little to get the tool in between them. The smaller ones seem to work better for the fuel lines over the metal reversible ones.
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Like I had said, you will have to twist the line or spin the filter while pulling the line. Whoever put that filter on shoved them way on to the point you will not get any tool in there. You also can not pull them straight due tothe nature of teh springs that hold it on. They will just dig in deeper. That is why you must spin and pull.
 

Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
Like I had said, you will have to twist the line or spin the filter while pulling the line. Whoever put that filter on shoved them way on to the point you will not get any tool in there. You also can not pull them straight due tothe nature of teh springs that hold it on. They will just dig in deeper. That is why you must spin and pull.

It's done! 12 years later. It was a bit more than just spin and pulling, but that definitely got me going in the right direction. And yep, whoever put that last fuel filter on sucked. The new "fit" does not in any way resemble the old fit. There's plenty of space to put the fuel filter tools on now even if I push with all my might to secure the fuel lines on the new fuel filter.

I believe I may have damaged a clip-thingy built into the fuel line that "grabs" the lines. I have pictures. The lines can be pulled apart by hand now, but I very carefully gave it a road worthy test drive and it's not leaking or shimmying out from vibraiton on its own. I would not go off-roading and hope the forward fuel line wouldn't get pulled off by brush in a bad situation, but road/highway driving appears to be relatively safe. I also have a filled Jerry Can at all times, so if I did empty my last gallon I can slip it back on and go again.

Also, there's a lot more power on command at the throttle. Is this normal with a new fuel filter? Holy wow.

See the tools I used. I did a lot of prying with a few Amazon specials. It definitely was a lot more like scooping out stuffing out of a turkey's back cavity than twisting and pulling. PB Blaster helped and I took the fuel filter metal harness off the frame's rail to give me 100% mobility after the first line (front) was off in order to try to manipulate the back line off the fuel filter (it had no gap to start, I have no idea how I got a tool in there but believe a craftsman flathead started the process IIRC as a wedge).

That low profile tool started it but shredded itself on the discs from the amount of tension.

Take a look on its packaging between tool handle and discs. There's a retaining clip that came out of the front fuel line. Should I/Can I find a replacement that won't re-start the problem that kept the first fuel filter on for over a decade?

Last Thumbnails are me working on the back side using a really handy 90 deg bite set of pliers I got on Amazon. I used that in conjunction with another disconnect tool to create a kind of pry-fulcrum to continually force the line down and away from the back of the fuel filter. I also committed to putting as many dents/dings into the fuel filter surface which gave me more space to insert things as I caved in its metal frame.

Spilled about half a gallon of gas on myself over the hour+ fighting this to the death. Not too bad. Most of it wound up in a cut milk carton to use on brush fires later.

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Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Yes, I do believe there are replacement spring latches available. The clips they show in the video from earlier help to keep the line from shaking off. Those metal springs are a pain for sure. You did likely bend the tabs at minimum, but they canbe hooked with a pic and bent out to latch again.
 

Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
Oh right, so I should just go looking for those external clips in the video and should be good to go regarding good vibrations and sweet brush sensations.

Time to go looking for part numbers or generic solutions.
 

Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
Called NAPA last week, they have one type (link) I haven't seen it in 3D, but I'm guessing this is a plastic clip that goes past the fat end of the fuel line and then pulls against the nipple on the fuel filter nozzle, preventing it from pulling away and consistently sucking the fuel without making a mess.

And I also figured out the old metal clip that was shoved on the fuel filter nozzle and then inside the fuel line is essentially a Doorman metal retention clip like this (link)

Can I go with the NAPA external fit even though I never had one before, or do I need to do another Chinese Finger Trap insert? Would rather avoid the Doorman, but that's what was holding my original filter in place.

It slipped last week, so a little fuel came out the back line. I reckon I need to at least get the front filter snug and the back one will stay (moved it into a better position on its fuel clip so it can't move forward and pull away from the rear filter connection).
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
Yes, you have the finger trap style. The plastic clips go crosswise but require slots to pass through which you do not have. You might get lucky and the tabs can be bent back to be able to latch, but in order to do so you will have to take it back off the filter to look into the end of the lines.
 

Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
That's sad.

If I've destroyed the internal fuel line due to all my prying, what's the best fix? Snip and add some kind of after-market clamp? Rubber fuel line inserted into metal fuel line hose and then compressed via a clamp on fuel filter and fuel line ends?
 

Fellro

Moderator
Staff member
It is just a clip, likethe Dorman showed. If the tabs are rusted off or damaged, you just take the old clip out then pop the other in. Easy to say, doing so is a bit different story. You can also get replacement ends from most parts stores. I would likely go back to the plastic clips if I were to do it.
 

dustybumpers

don't play well w others
Someone has put a 85-91 filter in there.
92 to present is longer so you can get the tool in there.

You have to cut the filter off between the rib and the line, then put the tool in the line and grab what remains of the filter line with a pair of needle nose pliers.
The springs that hold the line in are replaceable, but should be ok. IF you need to, just grab them with the needle nose and twist them out, push the new one in. you can find the new ones in the help section of any parts store, or like stated Dorman makes them. I do have some from ford in my stock if you need a part#
 

Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
Someone has put a 85-91 filter in there.
92 to present is longer so you can get the tool in there.

You have to cut the filter off between the rib and the line, then put the tool in the line and grab what remains of the filter line with a pair of needle nose pliers.
The springs that hold the line in are replaceable, but should be ok. IF you need to, just grab them with the needle nose and twist them out, push the new one in. you can find the new ones in the help section of any parts store, or like stated Dorman makes them. I do have some from ford in my stock if you need a part#
Thanks Dusty! Wish I'd snipped it once I made some space (less stress on the fuel line to extract the remainder I reckon, eh?). Hopefully a new clip inserted will grab and hold. It's currently just held in place by pressure and working, but definitely would like to put a clip in.

Yeah, I have the Dorman clips pulled up but if you have an exact part number, that'd help. NAPA is/was gonna sell me the external clips that are not meant for my line and probably won't do anything.

Is the Spring/clip (finger trap) is the same thing, or a spring behind the clip to give it additional tension? I'll replace the springs too if there are two parts to this security point. I've removed the little circular finger trap Dorman tab clip that was in the fuel line and have not replaced currently (hence pressure tight only).
 

dustybumpers

don't play well w others
These are on ebay

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Kaajot

Micro Machine Manager
Nice. Thank-you!

I ordered some from Amazon (not these OEM though). When they show up if they don't look like they're gonna cut it, I'll send'm back and order these Ford ones off ebay.

So far my swedge tension on the filter holder is keeping it taught when I repositioned it; but yeah, if something snagged it, it would be capable of pulling out. (That's what she said)
 
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