The fuel filter is a 60,000-mile maintenance item. Because this procedure deals with gasoline, be extra careful about safety. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher ready nearby. Wear surgical gloves and protective eye wear. Ensure that the work area is well ventilated. Also, you'll be working under the car, so make sure you put the car securely on stands. You absolutely do not want the car to fall on you!
To replace the old fuel filter, you'll need to get a new one. I got mine for $40, plus $10 shipping, for a total of US$50. If I had to do it again, I'd definitely get 6 clamps for the fuel line hoses, which will make the job much easier (see photo below).
Step 1: Depressurize the fuel system.
1.1. Open the glove box. Turn the two white tabs to open the fuse box.
1.2. Remove Fuse #54 to deactivate the fuel pump.
1.3. Open the fuel filler cap to release any pressure in the tank.
1.4. Start the engine and run until the engine stalls (no photo). The purpose is to empty out as much as possible the gasoline from the fuel line beyond the fuel pump.
Step 2. Jack up the vehicle and put it on stands. Locate the fuel filter guard, which is at the bottom side of the car, just under the driver's right leg. There are 4 screws holding the guard in place. Remove 3 of them, and push away the guard.
Step 3. The fuel filter is now exposed. Remove the fastener holding the filter in place, and unscrew the 6 clamps on the fuel inlet and outlet lines with flat-head screw driver. The rubber hoses may seem to be impossibly tight and stuck on the inlet and outlet, but they can be easily loosened by slight twisting using a plier.
Step 4. Disconnect the fuel lines, and use a metal container to catch the fuel spill. There will be spills, and the amount is quite substantial. Do not use a plastic container, as the gasoline will melt it.
This is a 4 quart cooking pot, and see how much spill there is. I was surprised how clean the gasoline was after 60,000 miles. This is a maintenance item, but in reality I didn't need to replace the filter.
Step 5. Remove the old fuel filter, and install a new one. Now comes the hardest part of the job -- tightening the screws on the clamps. Whoever designed the clamps should be taken out and shot. They cannot be tightened with a screw driver. They cannot be tightened with a socket of any size. Without the special tool, they can only be tightened little by little with a plier. It's a pain. I just don't see any reason for designing clamps that are easier to loosen than to tighten. If I have to do it again, I'll buy some new clamps so that they can be tightened with a screw driver.
Step 6. Put the fastener and guard back. Lower the car to the floor. Reinstall fuse #54 and fuel filler cap. Clean up, and you're done.