A fuel injector is an important component of the fuel injection system found in almost all modern 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, it can cause a lot of problems.
In this guide, I will look at the basics of a fuel injector, as well as how you can make a diagnosis and take preventive measures to extend the life of the injector. First, let’s look at the signs.
Symptoms Of A Clogged Or Bad Fuel Injector
The most common symptoms of a bad fuel injector are a misfiring cylinder and a check engine warning light on your dashboard. You may also notice a vibrating engine or bad fuel odor at idle. If your engine stalls on idle, that could also be a sign.
Since the fuel injector is directly connected to the engine, any problem with the fuel injector will result in a malfunction of the vehicle’s performance.
Here is a more detailed list of the signs of a bad or clogged fuel injector to be on the lookout for:
1. Check Engine Light
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.
2. Engine Vibrates
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 engine to vibrate.
3. Misfiring Engine
The engine will misfire if the fuel injector is dirty, clogged, or does not open properly. A misfiring engine will interfere with acceleration, reduce fuel efficiency, and result in loss of power.
This requires immediate attention, as your engine could also start knocking and cause serious damage to your engine.
4. 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.
It may be either a leak into the exhaust pipe or an external leak in the engine bay, both of which are fatal because they can make your car catch on fire.
5. Increased Fuel Consumption
If you regularly monitor your fuel consumption, you will notice a decrease or increase in fuel efficiency due to a poor injector. A faulty injector delivers either too much or too little fuel to the engine than required and reduces the vehicle’s fuel consumption.
If you suspect that your fuel consumption has changed, it may be due to a bad fuel injector.
6. Rough Engine Idling / Stalling
If you experience rough idle or the engine stalls on low RPM, it may be due to a bad fuel injector. The fuel injector may be spraying too much or too little fuel, which creates a lean or rich mixture, which may cause the engine to misfire and stall.
7. Failed Emission Test
If the fuel injector’s spray pattern has changed, and it is injecting too little or too much fuel into the engine, your car will most likely not pass the emission test. This is because too much fuel or too little will be enough to increase the emissions, and the catalytic converter will not be able to do its job properly.
8. Fuel Leak
If you see a fuel leak in the engine bay, it may be because of a bad fuel injector. Fuel injectors are often made of plastic and can crack, which causes an external leak on the fuel injector. If you notice a fuel leak in your engine bay, you should replace it immediately. Otherwise, it may cause an engine fire.
Understanding the Fuel Injection System
Your car engine uses an internal combustion process to run and uses two key elements: oxygen and fuel. The oxygen is extracted from the engine’s air, while the fuel is taken from the fuel reservoir. The air intake takes over the task of supplying air to the engine. Since the oxygen supply varies, the fuel injection system’s task is to constantly vary the amount of gasoline to be supplied according to the oxygen supply.
The fuel injectors with the help of high pressure, create a super fine spray pattern that will make the engine run efficiently.
Fuel Injector cleaning
In some cases, your fuel injector is actually just clogged with dirt. This can be caused by a bad fuel filter, which lets dirt pass to the fuel injector. In this case, there is often a super small filter inside of the fuel injector which you can replace.
Another case is that the fuel injector needs some lubrication because it has been standing unused for a while, especially if you have been driving on ethanol.
Remember, if you want to try an injector cleaning, the best way is to do it to all injectors at once to avoid the different amounts of fuel spray after the cleaning.
Some special workshops can do fuel injector cleaning for you. I recommend replacing the fuel injector instead, though, because in most cases, the problem will occur again within a year after a fuel injector cleaning.
Fuel Injector Location
The fuel injectors are located on the engine’s intake side, under the fuel rail, which is often located on the intake manifold.
If you have a diesel car, your fuel injector is likely located in the cylinder head, but gas fuel injectors are installed on the intake manifold in almost all cases.
There are some rare cases when your car has direct injection and the injectors are installed in the cylinder head.
Fuel Injector Replacement Cost
The average fuel injector replacement cost is between $100 and $500, depending on the car model and labor costs. A fuel injector usually costs between $50 and $300. Labor usually costs between $50 and 200$.
The fuel injector’s cost may differ a lot depending on if you have a gas or diesel engine. Diesel injectors are often very expensive, which can result in part costs of $400 or more.
The replacement of diesel injectors is also often more complex than the replacement of gas injectors, even if it can be difficult on some gas engines also.