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Fuel filter location?? Why??

Fuel filter location?? Why??

(OP)
While I realize I am just a lowly Agricultural engineer who has never designed a tractor, I have built several pieces of farm equipment and restored my share of antique vehicles, trucks and tractors. I cannot understand why anyone would attach a fuel filter on top of the fuel tank between the tank and the vehicle body where the tank would have to be removed or lowered to change the filter, no access door is provided in the body. My 1999 and 2003 Dodge Grand caravans have to have the fuel tank lowered about a foot and unbolt the fuel filter from the tank and disconnect the lines from the tank. The filter replacement has 3 formed plastic lines attached that are more than 2 ft long. With the ethanol blend fuel that is nearly impossible to avoid, the filter has to be changed every 6 months. This requires the vehicle to be on a lift with a suppport under the tank, or raised sufficiently for a person to get underneath and lower the tank by unbolting the tank straps, and supporting the tank to prevent kinking or tearing the plastic fuel line, while unbolting the filter from the fuel tank!! Not to mention the other risks to fire from having to have a drop light to see what you are doing. The replacement filter alone costs over $20, the labor ranges from $50 to $165 if performed by the dealer. This has to rank very high as one of the dumbest designs for a very simple part. Why could there not have been a threaded can type filter mounted in the frame or in an accessible place as used in GM trucks?
I know about GM trucks also, as I have cut access doors in several of my trucks' beds to access the in-tank fuel pump.
I service and repair my own vehicles. I take pride in the fact that with over 9 cars and trucks and 7 tractors in my farm/business fleet, I am able to keep them in good mechanical service with minimal help. I put myself through college by working as a tractor mechanic in the 70's, which was a factor in my decision to pursue an agricultural engineering degree. I now do more work as a civil than a mechanical, but an engineer is an engineer, right? However, to change this filter I either have to send it out, or spend 1 to 2 hours to change a $20 filter that should cost $8 and take only 10 minutes.

The rear spark plugs on the v-6 3.3 liter are a challenge, but not near as irritating as this filter. I have no idea if the newer ones are the same, but since this is one of the most popular vehicles in the US, the newer models are probably just as bad.

It is too late to correct this one, but what can be done to stop this on the newer production models. A doctor's motto is supposed to be "Do no Harm" The engineers should be "Design nothing Stupid"

WWW.thatdamengineer.com

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

It might be a few cents saving in production.

It should be fairly easy for you to remove the existing filter and extend the hoses to relocate a cheaper filter bin a more convenient place

Regards
Pat
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RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

There is a long history of automotive SNAFUs as described. 1974 Camaro Z28 has ONE spark plug that is almost inaccessible by socket wrench. There's just enough clearance for the racket to click once per crank of the wrench. There are other cars with similar stories.

TTFN
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RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

I'm guessing the fuel filter boss is integral with the top of the fuel pickup assembly.

That saves about $3 compared with a standalone unit. It also simplifies modularization.

I doubt that from new it really needs replacing every 6 months. that is part of the emissions system in the car and so would come under California's 100000 mile rule, therefore you must be using disgusting fuel, or your tank itself needs a clean out.

I do sympathise, ethanol in gasoline is a stupid policy. But $3 is a pretty attractive cost save.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

I own a 2002 Chevy 1/2T pickup with an EFI V8 engine. The fuel filter is easily accessible and should be replaced at 50,000 miles. The fuel pump is mounted inside the fuel tank and only lasted about 80,00 miles. Replacing the fuel pump requires removing the fuel tank. The pump cost me $350 and the labor was another $500.

I won't get started about how inaccessible the spark plugs are on this truck. As others noted, the OEMs don't have to pay for servicing the vehicle. They design things for ease of assembly and low cost.

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

I agree the filter location sounds terrible but something is really wrong with your tank or the fuel you are buying to have to replace the filter every 6 months. My primary vehicle is also a 2003 with over 100,000 miles and I have never replaced the fuel filter and it runs great. Only buy the "contains up to 10% ethanol" blends.

Service ranks very low (if at all) on the OE design engineers goals.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

I am sympathetic, being a DIY mechanic myself, but modern vehicles require a different mindset than the vehicles of (at least) my youth. On the pickups with the pumps in the tanks, you aren't expected to drop the tank to replace the pump; you are supposed to remove the bed. If you have 4 people available, it takes less than 1/2 hour while cradling frosty beverages to remove the bed, typically 6 bolts and a couple of connectors. If you can't round up that many people, you need to be clever and find a way to simply jack it up, but the point is, the engineers have provided a reasonable access to the pumps. It's much safer than dropping the tank, too. I've found there is usually a similar non-obvious method to accomplish these kinds of tasks.

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

Ross -

That is not what the manual said and when the fuel pump on my F150 blew at about 25,000 and covered by warranty - even the mechanic dropped the fuel tank and had as many guys as needed standing around doing about nothing who could have easily lifted the bed. It called job protection!!

My mom's Model A had a very simple glass with screen fuel filter - took about 60 seconds to remove, clean and replace!!.. NOW - that is engineering!!

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

I saw a picture about 5 years ago that stunned me. It was a Ford Expedition or Excursion, with the complete body divorced from the complete chassis. Ford designed them to be able to remove the entire body by removing something like 8 bolts and three connectors, and "book" rate was a little over a half hour to accomplish separation. Needless to say, it gave complete access to everything on the drivetrain without any tricks (although obviously you need a big lift). Here's an article about the concept (admittedly NOT for the DIY-er): http://www.denlorstools.com/autoblog/2009/01/exped...

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

I doubt you have much choice in which method to use on a Caravan or most cars, though.


Norm

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

There was a design trend about 12 years ago to integrate fuel filters into the fuel pump and level sender assembly.
I used to be involved in the design of in-tank fuel pump installations and personally resisted this stupidity.
In Europe, the traditional method was to use, for example, a Bosch metal can filter, with a service life of about 100k miles which, for cost reasons, 'degenerated' into plastic-bodied filters from a variety of suppliers, but you could at least replace them without too much grief.
Suppliers of pump/sender assemblies sarted pushing the integration of filters into pump/sender assys by offering OEMs
- fewer assembly line operations which might lead to leaks
- improved EVAP/shed test performances
- reduced total system cost
- reduced vehicle assembly times
- better profit for the pump/sender supplier!
Computer-based Project Engineers will have service-ability and true cost of ownership very low on their list of 'must haves' and few, if any of them, will have any first hand experience of service practices.

As far as service miles for filter changes, there will be another cost/quality trade-off where cheaper filter media may swing the design away from durability if a narrow range of fuel types has been used to qualify the filter function.

Bill

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

Quote (RossABQ)

On the pickups with the pumps in the tanks, you aren't expected to drop the tank to replace the pump; you are supposed to remove the bed.

RossABQ,

Yeah, I understand that's the way some guys approach the job on these trucks. The Suburban has a similar design, but there's no bed to remove. The factory manual procedure says to unfasten the straps and filler neck, then "lower" the tank to access the pump ring.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a design engineer myself and I can certainly appreciate that there are likely all sorts of valid reasons for putting the pump inside the tank (ie. reduced chance of leaks, better pump cooling, integration of pump and sending unit, etc.). And I must admit that the pump/sending unit design was a very nice piece of production engineering.

At least the engine designers have quit mounting the oil filters horizontal, which made it impossible to prime them at installation.

Terry

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

Quote (tbuelna)

At least the engine designers have quit mounting the oil filters horizontal, which made it impossible to prime them at installation.

My S-10 2.2L has the filter horizontal, BUT they included a plastic trough that catches any leakage from filter removal and channels it to a point next to the oil pan drain plug. No help for priming, but I thought it was a nice touch. Unlike my Porsche 944, which has the filter upside down???

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

Quote (RossABQ)

I saw a picture about 5 years ago that stunned me. It was a Ford Expedition or Excursion, with the complete body divorced from the complete chassis. Ford designed them to be able to remove the entire body by removing something like 8 bolts and three connectors, and "book" rate was a little over a half hour to accomplish separation. Needless to say, it gave complete access to everything on the drivetrain without any tricks (although obviously you need a big lift). Here's an article about the concept (admittedly NOT for the DIY-er): http://www.denlorstools.com/autoblog/2009/01/exped...

LOL, opening the cooling and AC systems plus a few dozen other things to unbolt or disconnect is a little more complicated than 8 bolts and 3 connectors.

RE: Fuel filter location?? Why??

Lionel, In the link I provided the coolant and A/C systems apparently needed to be removed/discharged, but from what I've heard it is possible to discoonnect the compressor from the block with the lines connected, the condenser installed to the body, and lift them off intact. I've never done it, either way, myself, I guess the real point here is, these cars aren't made to be repaired at home with an oak tree and a chainfall, pliers and a crescent wrench. Considering how much better they are than cars of even 25 years ago, I don't know how bad that it.

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