The Complete Guide to a DIY Car Tune-Up, Part 1: Replacing a fuel filter

It’s usually a good idea to send your car for a service and a tune-up every 30,000 miles – or every two years – in order to keep it in optimum running condition.

Fortunately, most of the work done during a service can actually be carried out at home by anyone who’s confident with taking the DIY approach.  As a result, we’ve decided to go through some of the major tasks on our blog.


  • Always wear safety glasses when carrying out work on your vehicle, and also look at obtaining latex gloves and closed toe shoes for occasions where they’re necessary.
  • Fuel is EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE.  Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby when working with the fuel system.  Avoid any forms of ignition.  Also, never use incandescent work lamps near the fuel tank.  Fuel vapours can travel a long distance, so be aware of any electrical equipment anywhere near the working area.

Replacing your car fuel filter

  1. Park your vehicle on a solid, level surface.
  2. Relieve the pressure in the fuel system by loosening the fuel cap, and then remove the fuel pump fuse or relay (for the location of these, check your owner’s manual).  Start and run the engine until the fuel in the lines is used up and the engine stops working.  Then, crank the engine for two more seconds to remove any remaining pressure.
  3. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery.
  4. Find the fuel filter in the engine compartment or beneath the vehicle near the fuel tank (you may need to raise the rear of the vehicle and then support it with jack stands).  Then, disconnect the fuel lines from the fuel filter.
  5. Remove the mounting bolts on the fuel filter (if your car has them).
  6. Once you’ve verified that you have the correct replacement filter, install it, ensuring that the flow arrow is pointing towards the engine.  Re-install the mounting bolts if applicable.
  7. Fit the lines back onto the new fuel filter and re-install the fuel pump fuse.  Then, re-connect the negative battery cable.
  8. Start your engine and check it for fuel leaks.  On some occasions, the engine might not start easily on the first attempt due to a lack of fuel, but as the pressure increases and the fuel reaches the injectors, it should start to get back to normal.
  9. Give the car a quick test drive to check everything’s running as it should be.

Ford launches car that can see around corners

Major motoring manufacturer Ford is to introduce a camera designed to help motorists see around corners when their view is being obstructed.

The Front Split View Camera will be available as a £400 option on both the all-new Ford Galaxy as well as the S-MAX.  It will display a 180-degree view from the front of the car, with the camera itself being installed in the grille.  The camera will allow drivers to easily spot approaching vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists.

Eight cyclists have been killed in London this year alone, with the Department for Transport (DfT) reporting that a restricted viewpoint contributed to 11 per cent of all road accidents in 2013.

The 1 megapixel camera is configured to provide a real-time view of both left and right on the eight-inch colour touchscreen.  Drivers will be able to track road users approaching from either side of the vehicle and the camera, just 33mm wide, will be kept clear with a specially designed retractable jet-washer operating automatically whenever the windscreen wipers are activated.

Experts believe that the new cameras could help to eliminate up to one-in-five accidents currently being blamed on blind-spots.

A Ford spokesman said:

‘For drivers, blind junctions can be a nerve-wracking experience as they slowly inch forward into traffic and strain to see and hear oncoming vehicles. 

'Now Ford Motor Company is introducing a new camera technology that can see around corners even when drivers cannot - reducing stress and potentially helping avert collisions.’

AA quality training manager, Keith Freeman, said:

‘Pulling out at a blind junction can be a tricky manoeuvre for new and experienced drivers alike. 

'The best approach has traditionally been to simply lean forward to get the best view whilst creeping forwards with the windows wound down to listen for approaching vehicles, but cyclists are a particular risk as they can’t be heard. 

'This technology will certainly make emerging from anywhere with a restricted view so much safer and the experience less nerve-wracking for those behind the wheel.’


Chinese smog levels force government action on polluting vehicles

China has been cracking down on high-emission transport in an effort to lower the huge amount of smog evident in its major cities.

Subsequently, a vast number of scrapyards and recycling sites now contain thousands of completely abandoned buses, cars and trucks.  None of the vehicles in the scrapyards were able to meet even the most lenient of emissions standards.

Reports of Beijing having over 20 times the amount of air pollution considered healthy by the World Health Organisation led to the initiative: it’s believed that vehicle emissions accounted for almost a third (31.1 per cent) of toxic air in the capital at the time of reporting.

Hangzhou, one of the most picturesque cities in the country, registered 239 days of smog during 2013 – almost 90 days more than the annual average.  40 per cent of the city’s air pollution levels are currently due to vehicle emissions.

The Chinese government has been consistently pushing for ‘green’ upgrades to vehicles and has recently set new carbon-cutting targets.  All new transport vehicles will have to comply with National Standard IV fuels from January 2016.

The fuels should guarantee seven times fewer sulphur emissions than the country’s previous standard.  However, this fuel only represents three per cent of the current market due to a lack of availability, leaving many residents simply unable to upgrade.

There is currently one car for every two people in the city, with a fourfold increase in income taking place during the last 15 years.  The mayor recently introduced 2,500 green public transport vehicles, but the escalating middle class in Hangzhou continue to prefer travelling by private car.


Driverless cars could shave £265 off insurance premiums

According to the latest figures, car insurance costs may halve by as early as 2020 due to the increase in the number of driverless vehicles on British roads.

It’s estimated that annual premiums could be cut by up to £265 on average within the next five years, with the influx of driverless vehicles expected to ‘eliminate’ bad driving: still considered to be responsible for 90 per cent of road accidents.

Are things really moving that fast?

Yes.  According to the latest figures, the technology is developing so quickly that road accidents arising from human error could almost be eliminated in the next half-decade.  All new cars will drive and park automatically on the motorway, and communicate with other vehicles in order to avoid collisions.

John Leech, head of auto at consultancy, KPMG, said:

“Insurance could halve once vehicles which communicate with each other and an ‘autopilot mode’ when driving on the motorway are developed”.

During the last 12 months, insurance premiums have continued to decline, with fully comprehensive cover now costing an average of £530.

Accidents cost

Cover costs have nearly always been kept high due to ‘avoidable accidents’ accounting for the majority of pay outs, with whiplash claims and car parking disputes a good example.  Combined, these issues cost more than £3 billion a year and account for 94 per cent of insurance claims.  Hi-tech cars could completely eliminate this type of accident.

What does the future hold?

Driverless cars are already being tested on American roads, and it’s currently estimated that the first autonomous vehicles could be on British roads by as early as 2018 according to manufacturers such as Volvo, Tesla and Mercedes; all of whom are developing cars that can drive without the need for drivers to even touch the controls.

Why does this affect insurance?

With autonomous cars, the responsibility for injury or damage to the vehicle will be passed to the manufacturers.  Car crashes will become a matter of product liability rather than cover.

Will we have to wait the full five years to see the effects?

Though this change could take between three to five years to go through, it’s possible that insurance premiums will start to fall before then, with one-in-three of all new cars now using driverless technology in some form, with emergency braking systems a common example.

According to predictions from the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), nine-in-10 new cars owned in the UK will be fitted with some form of smart technology within five years, and accident numbers are expected to fall sharply as a result.

Matthew Avery, safety researcher at vehicle rating firm Thatcham, said:

"Because of these technologies a lot of commentators are predicting an 80 per cent reduction in killed and seriously injured on our roads within 15 to 20 years which is great news."

By 2030, new automatic vehicles should prevent 90 per cent of cases where drivers are killed or seriously injured on the road, according to predictions from KPMG in a report published in March.

The emergency braking featured in many new vehicles can reduce accidents by as much as 45 per cent in the best systems, and insurers are already offering 10 per cent off premiums for cars that are fitted with the technology.

Will motorists still be responsible for paying anything?

Drivers will still be expected to pay for cover against theft and damage, both of which comprise of less than half of current premium costs.

According to Thatcham, it takes around 15 years for the entire fleet of British cars to change, but it’s expected that some cars will remain on the roads.  Classic cars are expected to remain popular, especially given that they can’t be retro-fitted with driverless technology.


Emissions fall for 17th consecutive year

The UK has again beaten CO2 emissions targets, with the average new car in the UK posting emissions of 4.2 per cent lower than the EU-wide target of 130g/km.

The new annual report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has been published, and shows that carbon exhaust emissions in the UK have decreased for the 17th consecutive year and are now as low as they’ve ever been.

During 2014, new cars averaged only 124.6g/KM, improving on the previous year’s average by 2.9 per cent and 2007 levels by almost a quarter (24 per cent).

A great deal of improvement is down to the fleet sector, with the average levels of CO2 emissions falling 7 per cent just within the last year.  The fleet sector has made efforts to move to more efficient diesel and petrol engines, and the alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) market has also continued to grow.

Sales of plug-in vehicles increased fourfold during 2014, and saw the UK move to the front of the market in Europe, with no other country registering more plug-in vehicles during the year.

At the year’s end, 52,000 AFVs (alternative fuel vehicles) had been registered - a 58.1 per cent increase on the previous year.  The resulting impact on CO2 levels was substantial.

More than two-thirds of new cars registered either met or fell below the 130g/KM threshold.  When compared with the 2000 figure of 0.9 per cent, the increase is considerable. 

A strict EU-wide CO2 target of 95g/km by 2020 is still a concern and a second report from the Centre for Economics and Business (CEBR) explored the central challenges arising from the issue.  It recommends a moderate and fair approach to reform in order to avoid undermining future uptake of the latest technology.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The UK automotive sector has made enormous strides in cutting emissions across the board and should be proud of its achievements.

“However, there is a long way to go, and meeting ambitious targets in 2020 will require ongoing support and investment.

“Striking the delicate balance between influencing buying behaviour, encouraging investment and maintaining critical tax income will be a big challenge.

“SMMT is committed to working with the next government to make the changes now that will help the industry meet the even greater cuts in CO2 demanded in the future.”

To view the latest SMMT report, click here.