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How to Replace Fuel Hoses

Image Gallery: Engines You don't have to be a master mechanic to successfully replace the fuel lines in your car. See pictures of engines.
AP Photo/Robert E. Klein

Right now, money is tight for many of us. We're cutting back where we can -- going to movies less often, eating dinner at home and buying fewer things we don't need. We also might be putting off some vehicle maintenance until we can afford it, although this isn't always a good idea since it could compromise our safety as well as our ability to get around.

For example, take your car's fuel hose -- aka fuel line -- they're rubber, metal or plastic pipes through which gasoline passes from the fuel tank, where gasoline is stored, to the fuel pump. From there, fuel is squirted into the engine's combustion chamber via fuel injection or a carburetor.

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It's not hard to deduce that your car's fuel system isn't something to fool around with. If the line is old, cracked or broken, it needs immediate maintenance. Otherwise, your car could leak gasoline or have problems delivering it to the engine. If you find your fuel leaking on the pavement, or you can smell gasoline constantly, this could be a fuel hose problem.

A technician certified in automotive maintenance should always properly diagnose problems with your car. Ideally, a professional mechanic should do the repairs as well.

However, if you have the right tools, know your way around a vehicle, and have the correct replacement parts, sometimes you can perform auto repairs on your own. Replacing a broken or damaged fuel hose is one of those jobs where a little elbow grease can keep you from paying high labor costs at the repair shop.

Make sure you've gathered the proper tools to complete the job.
Make sure you've gathered the proper tools to complete the job.
© iStockphoto.com/Christopher Dodge

Replacing the fuel hose on your vehicle is going to take time and patience, and it could require getting underneath the car. It's also going to take the right tools for the job.

First, purchase the replacement fuel hoses. These can be bought online or at a store that specializes in vehicle maintenance, and they're usually not very expensive. It's important to buy the right size hoses for your vehicle -- auto shops and online stores will tell you exactly what to buy based on your vehicle's make, model and year.

You'll also want to buy fuel hose clamps, the metal rings that tighten to hold the hoses in place and prevent leaks. If the fuel hose clamps have never been replaced on your vehicle, now's a good time to do it.

The tools involved include a screwdriver, pliers, a knife, a floor jack, jack stands, vice grips and of course, the replacement parts. Remember, you'll be working with gasoline, so some precautions are necessary. Always work in a ventilated area to avoid gas fumes, remember to have a fire extinguisher on hand and don't use tools that could cause sparks.

Because this is a messy job, you'll also need some clothes you won't mind getting dirty and probably some eye protection as well, just in case gasoline gets splashed in your face. You'll need some rags for the cleanup and it's also not a bad idea to have a plastic sheet laid down underneath you -- one that you can discard when the job is complete.

Once you've gathered the tools, it's time to get your car ready for the new fuel line.

Now it's time to get ready for the fuel hose swap. You'll need to get underneath the vehicle for this part of the job, so start by safely lifting the vehicle using a floor jack and secure it using jack stands. Never crawl underneath a car supported only by a jack.

Once you're safely underneath, locate your car's fuel lines and its fuel filter. The filter is most likely in the engine bay under the hood, but it can also be in the rear of the vehicle near the gas tank. The fuel filter is a hard, cylindrical part and the fuel hoses are the tubes that run into it. If you're not positive that what you're looking at is your fuel filter, it may be a good idea to consult your auto maintenance repair manual or ask a vehicle maintenance technician just to be safe.

This next step is crucial -- you must relieve the pressure in your fuel system. Most cars today use fuel injection, which sprays fuel into the combustion chamber at incredibly high pressures. If you do not relieve this pressure when you start removing the fuel hoses from the filter, gasoline will spray everywhere.

To relieve the fuel pressure, you'll need to find your car's fuse box. Using the manual once again, locate the fuel pump fuse or relay. Start the car, and while the engine is running, pull that fuse (or relay) out. If you did this correctly, the engine will shut off within a few seconds, and the fuel system will no longer be pressurized.

Finally, to avoid any chance of an electric spark as you work on the fuel hoses, disconnect and isolate the negative terminal on your car's battery. In addition, it's not a bad idea to change the fuel filter while you're at it. You can learn how to do that here.

Up next, we're going to remove the old fuel hoses.

Henry Beghtol, a mechanic for over 40 years, works on his truck's engine in Burlington, Iowa.
Henry Beghtol, a mechanic for over 40 years, works on his truck's engine in Burlington, Iowa.
AP Photo/John Lovretta

Now that your vehicle has been prepped for the procedure, it's time to remove the old fuel hoses. Get underneath the car again, locate the fuel filter, and remove the plastic shield that surrounds it. Place a catch pan or a towel underneath the filter just in case any gasoline leaks out -- and it probably will (no one ever said vehicle maintenance was a clean job).

Using a screwdriver or a wrench, loosen the hose clamps until they slide back and forth. Again, keep your pan or rags handy because gasoline could leak out of the hose. Once the clamps are loose, you should be able to remove the fuel hose. If not, you can use a blade to free it if you have to. Now, locate and remove the other end of the old fuel hose. You should be able to pull it out with a little effort.

Again, it's best to consult your vehicle service manual for information and tips about removing your fuel lines. Just remember, every car is different. For instance, an older Toyota will have a very different fuel hose placement than a brand new Porsche. Ford cars differ from General Motors cars, and so on.

There may also be more than one fuel hose to remove, so make sure you know what you're taking out. Also take precaution not to remove something that you shouldn't, and that you don't accidentally damage the fuel pump or fuel filter in the process.

Now that your car has the fuel hose (or hoses) removed, it's time to install the new line. Again, if you purchased a new fuel filter, now is the perfect time to perform that maintenance as well.

Put the new hose clamps over top of the new fuel line, but keep the clamps loose for the time being. Make sure the hardware will face you when the line is in place so the clamps can be easily tightened. Next, slide the open ends of the fuel hose into place and check the fit.

Of course, the fuel line won't work if it's too short, but you'll also want to make sure the hose isn't too long. If there are any kinks or bends in the line, the gasoline might not flow properly. If it's too long, remove it and use your knife to cut a small portion off the ends until the fit is perfect. Once the new hose is the proper length, tighten the clamps with your screwdriver until it's firmly in place.

And that's it! You're done with attaching the new fuel hoses, but there are a few more steps to follow before you can drive again. First, you'll have to connect the negative terminal on your car's battery and then pressurize the fuel system by returning the fuel pump fuse in your car's fuse box. Next, start the engine. It may take a few seconds to get the fuel flowing through the system once again, but if you've done everything correctly, the engine should be running normally again. Inspect your work for any fuel leaks while the car is running and if you do find a leak, shut the car off and repair it immediately -- just remember to take all of the earlier safety precautions, of course.

For more information about fuel hose replacement as well as other vehicle maintenance, follow the links on the next page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources:

  • DMV.org. "Replacing Fuel Hoses." (Jan. 12, 2010) http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/fuel-hoses.php
  • Motorera.com. "Automotive Dictionary - FU." (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.motorera.com/dictionary/FU.HTM
  • TechGuys. "How to: Change a fuel filter." (Jan. 12, 2010)http://www.techguys.ca/howto/fuel_filter.html
  • Wilson, Adam. "Fuel Hose Replacement FAQ." FirstFives.org. (Jan. 12, 2010) http://www.firstfives.org/faq/fuelhose/fuelhose.html

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