1997-2003 Ford F-150 Fuel Filter Replacement

How to Replace the Fuel Filter on a 4.2L, 4.6L, or 5.4L F-150

Symptoms of a dirty or clogged fuel filter include poor fuel economy and, in severe cases, low performance, engine hesitation, hard starting, and stalling. Routinely replacing a fuel filter not only provides the highest level protection for the fuel system, but it promotes fuel pump longevity - as a fuel filter loads with particulates and debris, the fuel pump must work harder to push fuel through the filter. Fortunately, fuel filters for 1997 to 2003 F-150 pickups are relatively inexpensive and can be replaced in a few minutes.

Applicable Model Years: 1997 - 2003 Ford F-150, 4.2L V-6, 4.6L & 5.4L V-8
1997 - 1998 MY Fuel Filter: Motorcraft part # FG872
1999 - 2003 MY Fuel Filter: Motorcraft part # FG986


A fuel line wrench or fuel line disconnect tool is necessary to remove the fuel filter. The fuel lines contain a quick-connect type retainer that requires this tool in order to disengage the spring clips. Fuel line disconnect tools come in several varieties and sizes, none of which are particularly expensive. Examples include:

Fuel line disconnect examples

Click any thumbnail to view high resolution fullsize image w/ addition details (where applicable)

Fuel filter on frame rail

• Disconnect the negative battery cable, set the parking brake, and chock the wheels before crawling underneath the vehicle.

• The fuel filter is located on the inside of the drive side frame rail between the fuel tank and the engine. The cannister is easily recognizable and is secured by a large metal band.

Fuel filter safety clip removal

• Disconnect the safety clips from the fuel lines at the inlet and outlet of the fuel filter. This is accomplished by first pushing the vertical part of the clip over the line, then sliding the clip forward and out of the connection at the fuel filter.

Fuel filter clip removal

• With the safety clips removed, insert your fuel line disconnect wrench/tool into the fuel line connection at the fuel filter. Slide the wrench into the fuel line in the opposite direction as the fuel filter, thus rearwards of the vehicle into the fuel line connection at the filter inlet and frontwards of the vehicle into the fuel line connection at the filter outlet.

• Using moderate force, push the disconnect tool into the fuel line connection until it fully seats, then pull the fuel line off of the fuel filter nipple. This may take several attempts to develop a "feel" for when the fuel line disconnects from the fuel filter - it becomes easier with experience. Note that some tools work better than others for accomplishing this quickly and effectively.

• Repeat on opposite side of fuel filter so that both lines are removed, then remove the fuel filter from its clip.

Removing fuel line from fuel filter

• The fuel line disconnect tool is not required in order to install the new filter. Simply install the new filter into the retaining bracket, then install both fuel lines - they will snap and lock into place once inserted onto the fuel filter nipples. Install the new filter in the correct orientation - if a flow direction is not indicated or is illegible on the fuel filter cannister, install the filter in the same orientation as it was removed.

• Attempt to tug the fuel lines off of the fuel filter to ensure that they have locked, then reinstall the safety clips.

• Turn the key to the "run" position and check for leaks. Cycle the key to the "run" position (3) times for at least 10 seconds each time, then start the engine and check for leaks once more. Engine may stumble briefly until all air is purged from the fuel lines, but it will bleed itself.