Just listening to modern-day advertisements for brand new cars can leave you in awe of the technology.
Or maybe a little overwhelmed.
If you’ve tried to read through all of the features, it can leave you feeling like you’re reading a futuristic sci-fi novel, trying to piece together what all of the terms mean.
It sounds impressive, but at the end of the day, you have a car in your garage, and it’s your responsibility to take care of it. That means you need to learn a little about everything, and ensure it’s all well maintained to give you top performance.
Let’s talk fuel injection
Fuel injection isn’t brand new technology. Yet it’s one of those concepts that many drivers take for granted.
Fuel injection has been around almost as long as internal combustion engines. It was initially used in WWI in aircraft engines.
Chevrolet went to market in the 1950s with a mechanical injection V8, but the electronic fuel injection used on today’s modern cars is something different completely.
Carburetors and the mechanical injection first used on the auto production line were a combination of precisely calibrated mechanical parts designed to slowly release fuel into the intake manifold. This allows an air/fuel combination to mix into the combustion chamber.
This was the most efficient fuel delivery system used for decades. They were cheap to manufacture and easy to adapt to the newest engines. They’re simple to work on, and easy to maintain. In fact, a lot of car enthusiasts prefer carburetors because they are easy to troubleshoot.
Yet as many positive features as they brought to our modern day society, they also brought something we didn’t expect: emissions. And as cars multiplied into every level of society, the air we breathe soon became too hard to ignore.
Electronics brought in today’s fuel injection
The more we moved into the technological age, the more it infiltrated our automotive industry as well.
The first electronic fuel injection system was little more than a carburetor designed with a few computer-controlled sensors. But it was a start. This transitional technology allowed manufacturers to see what was possible, and start checking off all kinds of benefits to the automotive industry. Clean up the air? Check. But it also helped with performance issues too. Like helping a car increase gas mileage, and improving the performance of the engine.
As with any technology, fuel injection changed gradually over time. Single port fuel injection first showed up in the 1980s. It might have looked similar to a carburetor, but it had one or two fuel injectors in the body, adding fuel to the air mix just before the intake manifold. They improved the mechanical injection process by delivering a more precise fuel delivery. Gas mileage improved, but horsepower and torque waned.
As the single injection system was replaced with multiple ports, engine lifespan also increased. A multi-port fuel injection process uses multiple ports to add fuel to the air mix. With multiple ports, it has better efficiency and performance, with less potential problems as it has more ports to rely on during the process.
A lot has changed since the 1980s. Technology has increased, computers have decreased in size, and they run faster than ever. The number of car sensors has increased, meaning it’s easier than ever for mechanics to diagnose where problems lie. Engineers have fine-tuned every part of the fuel delivery process, making today’s cars the best yet for emissions standards as well as performance.
Common fuel injector problems
If something goes wrong with your fuel injection system, your engine won’t perform the way it was intended. How do you know when something is wrong with fuel injectors?
A rough idle
If the fuel injectors aren’t releasing enough fuel, or are sending an uneven supply into the engine, the RPMs will drop below the optimal level while idling. That means a rough idle while standing still, and if it falls too low, it will actually stall out the car.
If a fuel injector isn’t spraying correctly, it will cause a misfire in the corresponding cylinder. You’ll notice this as you’re driving, the engine will vibrate as it tries to complete each cycle without the proper level of fuel.
If the injector is clogged, it won’t be able to spray the correct amount of fuel into the engine, causing a misfire as you drive. You’ll notice your car struggling as you accelerate. You might even notice a pause as you step on the gas pedal. Either way, this is a warning sign that the engine isn’t receiving the proper amount of fuel, and it could be at risk for overheating.
Sometimes the fuel injector can crack, break, or deteriorate from old age. A small leak will release gasoline where it isn’t supposed to be. That means fuel won’t reach the engine, and it can start the process of damaging the system. You may even notice a fuel odor from the leak.
If the fuel injectors spray too much gas into the engine cylinder, it will cause an engine surge. This will cause your RPMs to change drastically, even when your driving is relatively stable. Your acceleration will be much slower.
Bad fuel economy
All cars originate with a fairly stable fuel economy. You can expect it to stay the same, depending on your driving habits. But if you start noticing your fuel tank draining faster, without a change in driving conditions, it could be your fuel injectors.
Check engine light
Today’s sensors are more sensitive than ever. They are designed to warn you of any potential problem within the system. The check engine light can mean an array of things, one of which could be bad fuel injectors. Never ignore a warning light. Stop in and have it checked to find where the problem lies.
Failed emissions test
Because your engine isn’t running optimally, it can increase emissions, which will be noticeable the next time your car is tested. If your car fails the emissions test, the fuel injectors are one of the first things we’ll check.
Have you noticed your vehicle isn’t running as well as it once did? Is your gas mileage slipping? Does your car have trouble running? Drive in today, and with a diagnostics test, we’ll pinpoint the problem and get you back on the road quickly. We’re here to help you keep your vehicle in tip top shape, and get you where you’re going safely.