A fuel injector is an important component of the fuel injection system found in almost all modern gasoline-powered cars. A fuel injector takes over the task of supplying fuel to the car’s engine, and usually, if the car has a bad fuel injector, many mechanics conclude that the engine is defective, when in reality, only the fuel injector is damaged.
In this guide, we will look at the basics of a fuel injector and how you can make a diagnosis and take preventive measures to extend the life of the injector.
Understanding the Fuel Injection System
The engine of your car uses an internal combustion process to generate electricity and uses two key elements: oxygen and fuel. The oxygen is extracted from the air surrounding the engine, while the fuel is taken from the fuel reservoir. The air intake takes over the task of supplying air to the engine, and since the oxygen supply varies, the task of the fuel injection system is to constantly vary the amount of gasoline to be supplied according to the oxygen supply.
What Role does the Fuel Injector Play?
The fuel injector is responsible for supplying the engine with the correct amount of fuel according to demand and also for varying the amount as demand fluctuates. The fuel injector works like a valve and is electronically connected to the engine control unit. The engine control unit signals the fuel injector to open its nozzle and spray the amount of fuel required for the efficient combustion process.
Common Problems with the Fuel Injectors
Like the mechanical components of any other car, the injector is also damaged over time. These are some of the most common problems associated with fuel injectors:
Clogged Fuel Injector
Fuel injectors can become clogged if large deposits are deposited inside the injector. This usually occurs in the form of rust and does not allow fuel to pass through the injector. The only way to solve this problem is to remove the fuel injector and have it cleaned by a specialist.
Dirty Fuel Injector
The fuel injector becomes dirty over time as the hydrocarbons and additives contained in the fuel combine with carbon and leave behind residues. These elements burn and form a crust that disrupts the flow of fuel, which in turn reduces engine performance.
In the case of a dirty injector, you can buy injector cleaners to clean a worn injector instead of buying a new one.
Fuel Injector Fails to Open its Nozzle
A rusted or broken fuel injector may not open its valve to deliver fuel. In this case, it is recommended to replace the injector.
Fuel Injector Does Not Close
A problem with the fuel injector spring can cause the injector to stay open and allow fuel to leak. This is due to rust formation caused by the additives and hydrocarbons contained in the fuel.
Fuel Injector Leaks
Due to overheating or some other problem, fuel also leaks from an injector, which in turn interferes with engine performance.
Symptoms of Bad Fuel Injector
Since the fuel injector is directly connected to the engine, any problem with the fuel injector will result in a malfunction of the vehicle performance. Here are some symptoms you may notice due to a bad or faulty injector.
One of the most obvious symptoms is that the check engine light on your dashboard is blinking. If one of the fuel injectors is clogged or dirty and is not efficiently supplying fuel to the engine, an electrical signal is sent to warn the driver. Please note that the check engine light can also be activated for various other reasons. It is therefore recommended that you take your car to a garage and have it scanned for error codes. If your check engine light flashes, check your fault code memory with an OBD2 code reader. They do not cost that much and you can read the fault code memory at home.
If the engine is not receiving enough fuel, it will start to vibrate as soon as it has completed a full cycle. On turbocharged engines, a clogged or dirty fuel injector can have dangerous effects and lead to a detonation that can damage the engine. When the engine is in turbocharged mode at a higher rpm, it requires a lot of fuel, and if the fuel injector cannot do this, a detonation may occur causing the turbo to fail.
The engine will misfire if the fuel injector is dirty, clogged or does not open properly. An engine with misfiring will interfere with acceleration, reduce fuel efficiency, and also result in loss of power. This requires immediate attention, as your engine could also overheat and eventually come to a halt.
Bad Fuel Odor
This symptom occurs when the fuel injector is leaking or when the fuel injector does not close properly. Excess fuel creates a bad smell which is noticeable while driving.
Increased Fuel Consumption
If you regularly monitor your fuel consumption, you will notice a decrease in fuel efficiency due to a poor injector. A faulty injector delivers more fuel to the engine than required and reduces the mileage of the vehicle.
Engine Idling / Stalling
An uneven fuel supply due to poor fuel injection leads to a drop in engine speed and thus to shaky handling.
Steps to Ensure Long Life of Fuel Injector
Fuel injectors do not last a lifetime, but there are some maintenance measures you can take to ensure that they remain in good condition for a long time. Experts recommend that the injectors should be cleaned after every 30,000 miles to prevent clogging. Always ensure that the fuel filter is changed when scheduled service says it is time. If you are not sure when to replace your fuel filter, refer to your service manual.
Another way to avoid clogging is to use high quality premium gasoline. Cheap gasoline blends have added detergents and additives that cause clogging. If you also find that the fuel injector is dirty, have it professionally ultrasonically cleaned to remove all dirt. This is comparatively cheaper than spending $300 on a new injector.
Most modern engines use high-tech sensors and computers that adjust the fuel mixture even if the injector is not working properly, so early signs of blockage can go unnoticed. The best way to check the condition of the injector is to check it manually.
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