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Fuel Filter Change 1994-1996
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Changing that spin-on fuel filter on your Cummins powered Ram.

Edited from a March 7, 2000 TD mail list posting by Fitch, plus comments of mine.

Things you will need:

Things to know:

      It's a bear to get to the filter the first couple of times until you get it figured out. You will just have to discover it - no way to tell you how to get that filter out with out spilling fuel, but it can be done (Or so Fitch says, but I always use the water drain to empty most of the fuel from the filter and then still manage to spill some!).   I actually lean/reach in over the front of the truck, almost lying on the engine, so I can get my right hand in there - its more coordinated than my left hand.(Note, if you lean accross the battery, cover the top of the battery to protect your clothing from acid and your *um jewels* from an arc welded belt buckle.)
       The priming pump is on the drivers side rear of the engine down low about right over the top of the starter motor. It has a plunger on top that you push on to pump fuel into the system and purge the air out. If you fill the filter really full, you probably won't need to mess with this. If you don't, you will get to learn all about it.
       The filter will be tight. Very tight! A flimsy gas engine oil filter wrench will bend without removing the filter. A nylon strap wrench will remove the filter after it crushes the filter can enough to get a good bite.

Procedure: (Should be written on a little piece of paper that comes with the filter.)

  1. Park on level surface where if you spill a bit of diesel fuel on it (you will) the world won't come to an end
  2. Turn engine off, set emergency brake.
  3. Open hood, place cover on fender.
  4. Experiment for a few minutes with how to get a hand on the filter so that you could juggle it out of there with out tilting it much.
  5. Lift the water drain valve to empty the filter. A piece of 1/2 tubing slipped over the drain tube and routed to a coffee can will keep the driveway clean. Close the drain valve when the fuel stops flowing. Remove the can and tubing NOW or you will kick the can over while messing around!
  6. Unplug the electrical connections that go to the bottom of the fuel filter.
  7. Insert the WIF sensor wires through the filter wrench loop.
  8. Work the wrench under the stuff on the bottom of the filter and bring it up over the filter
  9. Use the wrench to loosen the filter.
  10. Take the wrench back off. Study the situation, plan how you will maneuver the filter to get it out after you finish unscrewing it. Try to get it right the first time - you won't - but try anyway - you will feel a little like don Quixote.
  11. Unscrew and remove the filter, dump the fuel into the container prepared earlier.
  12. Check to be sure the gasket came off with it. Frequently it doesn't. Two gaskets will leak like there was no gasket. Also make sure that the washer is removed from the center spud. It usually stays on the engine.
  13. Wipe the old filter off so it is easy to handle.
  14. Use the old filter to practice putting the filter into position with out tilting it enough to more than 1/8" to 1/4" of fuel out of it. Pay attention to small things like how you hold your nose. Think good thoughts, stay relaxed. It will take a few tries, but if you do this, you will have much better luck when you try it for real. Trust me on this. I wish somebody had told me this before the first time I did it. (Don't believe Fitch!! You will probably spill some fuel!! )
  15. Remove the bottom piece that screws on (water in fuel sensor), discard all gaskets and o-rings, they are not reusable. New rubber comes with the new filter. Set the old filter aside.
  16. Un-package the new filter taking care to get no contamination in it.
  17. Install the bottom piece using the o-rings as the instructions that come with the filter say to do. I usually prelube the gaskets by rubbing some diesel fuel on them.
  18. Fill the filter with clean diesel fuel to within about 1/8" of the top.
  19. Use a finger and rub some Diesel fuel into the gasket.
  20. Follow your practiced method and install the new filter. Tighten it as it says on the little paper that came with it. I usually have to carefully use the same wrench to get it tight enough.
  21. Find the primer pump. Give it about a dozen strokes just in case.
  22. Clean up hands so you don't end up with a Diesel soaked steering wheel.
  23. Start the truck and rev it up a bit, like 1,500 rpm for a few seconds as soon as it starts so it doesn't stall if an air bubble goes through. The engine will miss a bit until the air is purged. If the engine stalls, hit the primer button again for as many strokes as your fingers will stand, then restart.
  24. If the truck runs, dump fuel from old filter into fuel tank, place old filter in a plastic freezer bag for disposal at an approved location. I quit dumping the fuel back into my tank because there were several times when I found gunk and debris in my filter. If your old filter is reasonably clean, you may re-use good fuel.
  25. Take the gunk and spray all the areas that had fuel spilled on them liberally. Let it set for a few minutes. Hose it off.
  26. While the engine drips dry, clean up, take a shower, and go strut for a while. You have earned it.

It will take 30 to 40 minutes the first time. If your experience with it goes like mine, you will get it down to 10 minutes no-gunk required with practice. I've changed them for friends, who, after watching the 10 minute been-there-done-that version wonder why they didn't do it themselves. The filter wrench is a commonly stocked item at Car Quest auto parts stores.


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Last Update: March 10, 2000