The fuel injector is what gives your car’s engine fuel by using electronic valves that open and shut many times in a matter of a second. Part of good maintenance is periodic fuel injector cleaning. Ideally, your fuel injector should be cleaned every 25,000 miles — here’s why.
What is the Fuel Injector?
A fuel injector is an electrically controlled valve that is supplied with pressurized fuel by the fuel pump. Additionally, it is capable of opening and closing many times per second. How Stuff Works explains how the fuel injector works: when the injector is energized, an electromagnet moves a plunger that opens the valve, allowing the pressurized fuel to move out through a tiny nozzle. This nozzle is made to atomize the fuel, which means it makes a fine mist so that it is burned easily. The amount of fuel supplied to the engine is determined by the amount of the time the fuel injector stays open. This is known as the pulse width, controlled by the engine control unit (ECU). The injectors are mounted in the intake manifold so they can spray fuel directly at the intake valves. A pipe called the fuel rail supplies supplies pressurized fuel to all the injectors. In order to have the correct amount of fuel provided, they explain, the ECU monitors different input sensors.
Those sensors can include:
- Mass airflow sensor – this tells the ECU the mass of air entering the engine
- Oxygen sensor – this monitors the amount of oxygen in the exhaust so the ECU can determine how rich or lean the fuel mixture is and make adjustments accordingly
- Throttle position sensor – this monitors the throttle valve position (which determines how much air goes into the engine) so the ECU can respond quickly to changes, increasing or decreasing the fuel rate as needed
- Coolant temperature sensor – allow the ECU to decide when the engine has reached its proper operating temperature
- Voltage sensor – monitors the system voltage in the car so the ECU can raise the idle speed if voltage is dropping
- Manifold absolute pressure sensor- which monitors the pressure of the air in the intake manifold
- Engine speed sensor – monitors engine speed, which is one of the factors used to calculate pulse width.
Additionally, there are two main types of control for multipart systems. The fuel injectors can all open at once, or each can open just before the intake valve for its cylinder opens. This is known as sequential multi-port fuel injection.
Why You Have to Clean Fuel Injectors
Do you know what signs could mean you need to clean your fuel injector? Cars can begin to perform poorly if the fuel injector needs to be cleaned. Firestone explains the signs that could mean you have a dirty fuel injector:
- The engine misfires: dirty fuel injectors can cause the engine to misfire, which makes the motor feel like it’s sputtering, sending vibrations through the car. Misfires can happen when a fuel injector problem mixes up the delicate balance between fuel and air entering the engine.
- Idling becomes rough. If your vehicle sputters and shakes when you’re sitting idle, it’s telling you that dirty fuel injectors might need to be cleaned.
- Your gas mileage tanks. Clean injectors help give your car good gas mileage. When they become dirty, you might be making more frequent trips to the gas station.
- The RPM needle is dancing. In normal cases, you control what you see on your dash. However, dirty fuel injectors can cause the needle on the RPM gauge to move unpredictably.
- Your car won’t start. Fuel injectors deliver gas to the correct cylinders. When this doesn’t happen, the engine won’t receive its combination of air and fuel. When this ratio is off, in rare cases, fuel injector issues can cause the engine to fail and your car won’t start.
If you notice any of these signs happening to your car, it’s time to stop at Scott’s!
Get Your Fuel Injectors Cleaned at Scott’s Fort Collins Auto
Stop by Scott’s Fort Collins Auto & Repair and let our team of trained experts get your fuel system back in good working order. Click to let us know when you plan to stop by or simply drop in!