The fuel injector in your vehicle works to deliver fuel to your car’s engine. It is a valve controlled by electronics that cause it to control the release of fuel to your engine. The majority of cars these days use a computerized fuel injector to keep you moving and to help you stay more fuel efficient.
How the Fuel Injector Works
There are three common types of injection systems found in vehicles. They are the unit injector, the pump-line-nozzle, and the common rail. The injector works as a valve that helps determine how much gas your vehicle uses. It works with the fuel pump, and pressurization.
When your car is running the fuel injector is activated. An electromagnet causes the movement of a plunger which opens the valve. This movement lets gas move through a nozzle that atomizes the fuel, making it a fine mist, so it burns easily.
The engine control unit, or ECU, controls the pulse width of the fuel injector, which is what determines how long the injector stays open and how much gas the vehicle uses. The ECU is full of sensors, which help determine how much gas the engine needs to keep your car going.
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Common Fuel Injector Problems
Since the fuel injector works as a major part of the fuel system, if you have a problem with it you will notice engine issues. You might not even be able to drive your car. There are a few different things that could be wrong with your fuel injector. Here are some of the more common signs and symptoms of fuel injector problems.
1. Decreased Engine Power
Your engine may not seem to be working at full capacity, and this could show in a few ways. You might notice it doesn’t accelerate as well, or the engine may start misfiring. While there could be other problems, this might be a fuel injector issue. It’s most likely the fuel injector if you notice that your car’s fuel efficiency isn’t as good as it once was.
Performance issues are common when there are problems with the fuel injector. Since this system ensures your engine gets enough gas to keep your vehicle running, you’ll notice when it’s running subpar.
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2. Clogged or Dirty Fuel Injector
The issues you’re having with decreased power could mean that your fuel injector is clogged or dirty. You can buy fuel injector cleaners that you add when you fill your gas tank, but these aren’t always reliable. If you continue to have problems, you’ll need to have someone look at your vehicle.
A clogged fuel injector won’t allow gas to get to the engine. A clog could leave you stranded.
3. Fuel Odor Is Noticeable
Normally when you’re driving your vehicle down the road, you won’t smell the fuel in the tank. When your car has a fuel injector issue, you might start smelling it. Fuel smells mean something is wrong with your vehicle, even if it’s not the fuel injector.
It could be a gas leak, which might come from the injector or elsewhere on the path of the fuel through your vehicle. It puts you at risk of having a safety hazard with your vehicle.
4. Check Engine Light
While there are times when the check engine light lighting up is no big deal, like when you have a faulty o2 sensor, it’s important to get it checked out. There is always a reason for a check engine light to come on, no matter how minor the issue.
The light will come on if your fuel injector is clogged or if your engine is misfiring. You can buy a scanner to use at home, to check which codes your vehicle is giving off when the light comes on. However, it’s helpful to take your car, van, or truck into a professional and have them look at it.
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5. Fuel Injector Not Opening or Closing
Another problem you might come across is that your fuel injector is stuck open or closed. The part that holds the valve on can sometimes get worn out or rusted, which causes these issues.
If it’s stuck closed your vehicle isn’t able to get any fuel so that it won’t run. If it’s stuck open, it will get too much and start leaking fuel. Fuel additives can cause this issue, so talk to a professional before using anything you buy at the store.
Is It Time to Replace or Fix Your Fuel Injector?
Unless you’re a certified mechanic, it’s important to take your vehicle into a professional to get a proper diagnosis of what might be wrong with it. They have all the machines and tools needed to get in there and find out why your vehicle is no longer running optimally.