Approach the vehicle from behind on the passenger side. When you are slightly in front of the rear wheels and forward of the gas tank or on some behind the gas tank towards the middle of the tank you will see a large silver canister which will have a black line running to it and marked "Fuel". When you go to remove the fuel filter you will probably have to struggle with the green clip to get it to release. Push against the lower part of the green clip until it pushes up from the black piece of hard plastic. You will also need a 5/8" wrench and a 13/16" wrench to tighten them sufficiently to prevent leaks. Most of the information I found on this topic said you need a special tool but that's not true. A little peristence and patience is all it takes.
It is in the fuel line so trace it from the tank to the throtle body and you should find it.
Changing a fuel filter should be pretty easy. You really only have a few choices. Either it will be bolts that you need to loosen, a bracket that you need to take off, or a combination of both. I recommend watching the fuel lines if your fuel filter is rusty. You don't want the fuel lines to crack.
I'd recommend Haynes Repair Manual #38016 General Motors Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire 1995-2001 All models.
This is pretty simple to do. Steps are as follow (don't pay someone to do this you can do it yourself for about $12).
1. Open your hood look in the fuse box on the driver's side and remove the Fuel Pump fuse relay.
2. Crank engine allow to stall to remove pressure from the fuel line.
3. Disconnect Negative Terminal from the Battery.
4. Approach car from rear no need to jack it up. Have wrenches with you and small socket set with you.
5. Remove one screw holding up Evaporator ( rectangular box that will come right off once screw is removed) simply pull it to the left and it will hang down not very heavy. It is right in front of the spare tire indent. Although you can see the filter fine with it on, you cannot manuever tools in the space to free the nut.
6. Using two wrenches loosen nut and remove, small amount of fuel will come out if you followed steps above. If you didn't fuel is going to come out for about 10 seconds.
Next steps will depend on whether you replaced the fuel pump or not. If you did like I did before you'll probably see a green plastic piece on the fuel line still attached to the filter. Use a small screwdriver to pop it open and then simply push it in on each slide and it will slide inward and out the other side allowing you to slide out the filter.
If you didn't replace the pump then you might see either another bolt to loosen like the first or white tabs that you press and the filter will be able to pull out.
Now if you purchased a replacement that has a white tab on it and you are trying to connect it to the green plastic type simply take off and throw away the white piece on the replacement you won't need it if you try to force it in with this piece you'll screw up your fuel line. Slide the new filter into the fuel line and the green connector will snap back overtop. Close the snap and viola your filter is installed. Reassemble the Evap, reconnect the fuel pump fuse relay, hookup your battery and start the car. Return and inspect for leaks at the connections tighten more if necessary. No special tool is necessary although I am sure someone will be more than willing to sell you one if you really want to waste your money.
Jiffy will charge you $50 for a teenageer to do this or you can wake up early on a Saturday take 20 minutes of your time to do this yourself for $12.
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