How to replace a fuel filter in a YJ

When our YJ started experiencing intermittent starting problems, the process of elimination quickly made us decide to replace the fuel filter, in hopes that the problem wasn't the fuel pump. Fortunately the fuel filter is fairly straight-forward to replace and can be done in about an hour (hey, I'm not mechanically inclined and that's all it took me). The fuel filter manufacturer recommends a replacement every 10,000 miles while AllData (the information company used by many mechanics) recommends about every 60,000 miles. Our YJ has about 63,000 miles on it so I guess it may have been time anyway.

Parts:

Fuel Filter (Auto Zone #FF676) - $10.99

Tools Used:

3/8 inch socket wrench
10mm wrench
Regular screwdriver
Sponge to catch gasoline
Small container to catch gasoline
Disposable blue shop towels for mopping up
Rubber gloves (have you ever tried to get the smell of gasoline from your skin?)

Since we were having problems during the week and our YJ is a daily driver, I changed the filter around 11:30 PM at a time when I didn't feel like it. The fact that I figured it out and completed the job within an hour should tell you how easy it is.

The first thing I did was assemble all the parts and make sure there was ventilation. Gasoline fumes are strong so you'll need a way for them to escape. I spent a little time at www.alldatadiy.com assembling diagrams and getting tips on the best way to do it. The annual membership fee of $24.95 for all the diagrams and install tips I could eat was well worth it to me. If I could find my Haynes manual, I probably would have just used it.

1) Taking the advice from AllData, I first disconnected the battery terminal. This was easy because I had installed a terminal quick-disconnect.

2) Second, while the hood was open I unscrewed the cap on the Schraeder valve, located on the fuel rail next to the throttle body. If you don't know what a Schraeder valve looks like (I didn't), think of a air stem on a tire, only a little bigger. What you're going to do here is release the pressure on the fuel line and I'm told this is SUPER important because the fuel line is under LOTS of pressure. Avoiding this step will get you gasoline spraying all over the place on a future step. Although the instructions I read called for me to attach a gauge to this valve and drain the released fuel into a container, I had no such gauge. I placed a bunch of blue shop towels under the valve and then near the top of it and pushed in the little nipple to release the built up fuel, just like you would release air from a tire. This worked well for me but just be careful. You don't want gasoline dousing your engine because of a fire danger. Once you're done with this step, screw the valve cap back on so you don't lose it ;-)

3) Next I slid under the Jeep on my back, located the steel filter shield (driver side on the frame, just in front of the rear wheel) and proceeded to take it off by removing the four 3/8 inch bolts that secured it to the frame. Setting that aside, I next removed the bolt securing the filter retaining strap with my 10mm wrench. Next, I loosened the hose clamp on the front end of the filter (facing the front of the Jeep) and then used my regular screwdriver to push the rubber hose apart from the filter. While doing this, I help up a sponge to collect any fuel that came out. Quite a bit came out and I franticly plugged the newly exposed filter end with a finger. Fortunately, the brand new filter came with a plastic plug which I removed from the new filter and placed on the old filter. I loosed the clamp on the other end and pulled it off accordingly. A little fuel came out of this end but not nearly as much. With both ends of the filter unattached, I wiggled the old filter from the retaining strap and placed it in a container where the remaining fuel could drain.

4) Next, I removed the hoses from the old filter and attached them to the new filter. It wouldn't be a bad idea to replace these small bits of hose, but mine looked in decent shape. I then wiggled the new filter into place and secured it with the retaining strap. This is harder then it sounds because one section of the strap came off and was a pain to get back on. There isn't much wiggle room. Just reconnect the hose clamps and you're done.

When you try and start your Jeep, the starter will crank a little and eventually it should start. I'll try and add some pictures or diagrams to go along with the text here.