Bad Fuel Injector Symptoms You Ought To Be Aware Of
In this article, we provide you with all the information you need to know about your car’s fuel injectors: exactly what they are, their function, why they fail and the most common bad fuel injector symptoms you should be aware of. After all, maintaining, fixing or replacing fuel injectors is a lot easier when you actually know what they are, where they are located, and how they operate!
What Are Fuel Injectors?
Fuel injectors are the most important part of the engine’s fuel system and are located in the intake manifold. They are electronically controlled valves that atomize and inject fuel into the car engine.
What Is The Role Of Fuel Injectors?
Internal combustion engines require a combination of an air/fuel mix and a spark to create an explosion in the combustion chamber that will produce enough power to start the engine in your car. It is the fuel injectors that are responsible for delivering the fuel to the intake manifold in the car's engine. As such, fuel injectors play a vital role in the proper functioning of your car’s engine, delivering fuel at the precise time to ensure clean and efficient combustion and optimal engine performance.
It is important to spot bad fuel injectors symptoms as soon as they appear because when the fuel injectors are clogged, develop faults or begin to fail, engine performance is significantly affected. When they fail completely, be it electrically or otherwise, the engine could also fail.
The fuel injector receives pressurized fuel from your car’s fuel pump which needs to be atomized (broken down into microscopic droplets) so that it can vaporise and burn readily.
This highly pressurized fuel is forced through a tiny nozzle and the sheer force breaks it down into small particles (atomizes it). This fine mist of fuel is then sprayed directly into the combustion chamber of the engine, at the precise point in the combustion cycle, which is controlled by the car’s internal computer, known as an Engine Control Unit (ECU), also commonly called an engine control module (ECM).
The Fuel Rail
The fuel rail, a critical component of the fuel injector, is responsible for the stable supply of fuel to all of the fuel injectors. The fuel rail assists in achieving high levels of fuel efficiency and environmental performance.
The Pulse Width
The amount of fuel the engine receives at any given time is determined by the amount of time the fuel injector stays open. This is called the pulse width, and it is controlled by the ECU.
Engine Sensors In Use Today In Fuel Injection Systems
The ECU is equipped with various sensors in the fuel injection system that assist in providing the correct amount of fuel and as such play a significant role in fuel delivery. Let us take a look at a few of these sensors in greater detail.
Mass Air Flow Sensors (MAF)
MAF sensors are critical components, located between the air filter and the intake manifold of the engine. The MAF measures the airflow in the engine and the sensor delivers this data to the ECU. This air mass information is vital for the ECU to be able to balance and supply the correct amount of fuel to the engine.
Oxygen (O2) Sensors
These sensors monitor the amount of oxygen in the exhaust so the ECU can determine how rich (not enough oxygen) or lean (too much oxygen) the fuel mixture is and allows it to make the necessary changes to the air/fuel ratio to ensure your car runs as it should.
Throttle Position Sensors (TPS)
These sensors monitor the position of the throttle valve, the air intake of the engine and aid the fuel system to output the right amount of fuel, depending on the position of the throttle.
Manifold Absolute Pressure Sensors (MAP) read the amount of manifold pressure (or vacuum) in the intake manifold and deliver it to the ECU to calculate air density and the engine’s air mass flow rate, which in turn determines the required fuel delivery for ideal combustion.
Engine Coolant Temperature Sensors (ECT) measure the temperature of the antifreeze/coolant mix in the cooling system, which gives an indication of how much heat the engine is giving off and allows the ECU to determine when the engine has reached its optimal operating temperature.
Voltage Sensors monitor the car’s idling speed. They monitor the system voltage so the ECU can raise the idle speed if the voltage is dropping (indicating a high electrical load) or decrease it when required.
Engine Speed Sensors (also known as Transmission Speed Sensors) calculate the speed at which the wheels are rotating, which determines the driving speed. The ECU uses this information to modify engine functions such as air/fuel ratio,the ignition timing and to perform diagnostic tests.
Signs Of Faulty Or Failing Fuel Injectors
The reasons may vary as to why fuel injectors fail. Following are a few of the most common problems and the symptoms to look out for. If you can spot the signs early on, you have a good chance of being able to fix a bad fuel injector, rather than having to replace it.
Clogged Fuel Injectors
Fuel injectors typically fail due to carbon build-up or the nozzles can become clogged with rust, corrosion or debris over time which causes the fuel injector to become clogged or partially clogged. This prevents the fuel injector from closing properly, resulting in a constant drip which creates misfiring, irregular fuel supply and fuel starvation. Prolonged fuel starvation can lead to internal engine damage and/or damage to the catalytic converter.
Leaking Fuel Injectors With Pungent Fuel Smell
If there is a sharp, pungent smell of fuel in your car while driving, then you probably have a fuel leak. This could be due to a worn-out or improperly maintained fuel injector. Fuel injectors are prone to leaking externally as the rubber seals become dry and cracked, or cracks can form within the injector itself. This is quite serious and should be looked at immediately.
If you're experiencing engine misfiring or a delayed response when you press on the accelerator pedal, it can also be a sign of problems with fuel injectors. A misfire causes the engine to stumble momentarily, or lose RPMs, and then it regains its normal engine speed. As with rough idling, engine misfiring can also be caused by clogged or dirty fuel-injector nozzles.
When your car is stationary, your engine should give off a constant, even sound - idling smoothly at around 1000 RPM. You have a rough idle if you feel the roughness when your car idles, but drives smoothly. Rough idling may show up in any of the following ways:
Idling above or the engine’s regular speed
Inconsistent, irregular RPM counts
Shaking, bouncing sensations or vibrations in the vehicle
A skipping, slipping sound or popping noises
Loss Of Power/Lack Of Power.
An abrupt loss of engine power is an obvious sign of a bad fuel injector as it indicates that the engine is unable to produce an adequate amount of power to run properly, if at all.
Reduced/Poor Fuel Efficiency
Poor or reduced fuel efficiency is another clear sign of a damaged fuel injector. Fuel is wasted by leaking away or the fuel injector is unable to produce a proper spray pattern to burn efficiently.
Check Engine Light Illuminates
If the Check Engine Light comes on (either solid or flashing), it usually indicates that too much or not enough fuel is being delivered to the engine. It could also mean the fuel injector is dirty, clogged or malfunctioning.
Car Struggling To Start
If the car cranks when you turn the key, but the engine won't start, it is more than likely because insufficient fuel is getting to the engine which is mainly due to clogged or dirty fuel injectors.
When To Replace Damaged Or Failing Fuel Injectors
If you suspect you have a damaged or failing fuel injector, contact an expert and see if it needs to be cleaned or fixed. if it is irreparable, you will need to get replacement fuel injectors.
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