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Fuel injection is the most common way which the modern internal combustion engines use to deliver the fuel. Almost every auto vehicle is equipped with fuel injectors. Car Fuel injector is a pivotal component of vehicle’s fuel system as it helps to spray the fuel into engine with the help of injector nozzle.
Any problems with fuel injectors can cause malfunctioning of engine and its components. Under worst condition it may stall your car. For a better fuel economy and optimal performance of vehicle’s engine it is very important for the fuel injectors to work properly.
What is a Fuel Injector?
Fuel injector sounds to be quite a complex terminology but it isn’t. They are the components that are responsible for the final stage of fuel delivery in fuel injection systems. Fuel injectors are mostly controlled by car’s ECU and fuel injectors are activated by this ECU or auto fuel injector module when the high pressure fuel is passed to the injector.
There are few types of fuel injectors. They all differ in design while the working is still the same. Let’s have a look at main 3 types of fuel injectors in detail.
1. Built into car's Throttle body/ throttle body injectors
2. Centrally located/ central port injection
3. Located at each cylinder/ multiport injection
Throttle body injection
In throttle body injection system, the fuel injector is built right into the throttle body. This simplest single point fuel injection system consists of a single injector that slot into the throttle body.
Throttle body injector is similar to other standard fuel injectors but it is responsible for delivering the fuel to entire engine rather than just one cylinder. When it is activated, it sprays a mist of fuel into the throat of throttle body where it mixes with air and passes to the intake manifold.
This air fuel mixture plays vital role in engine’s internal combustion process.
You can simply replace old or worn throttle bodies with new throttle bodies by simply unbolting the injector.
Central Port Injectors
Unlike throttle bodies, in central port injectors a single maxi injector is used to provide the fuel to all cylinders. It is sometimes termed as hybrid port injectors as its central injector is connected to each intake port via nylon fuel lines.
Major components of central port injectors are:
1. Poppet Valve Nozzle
2. Nylon fuel lines
It has one drawback. As the injectors work as a single unit, so if any component fails, the entire unit will have to be replaced instead of the single component.
Multiport Fuel injectors/Direct Port Injectors
Most of the diesel and gasoline engines today use multiport or direct fuel injectors which both use similar fuel injectors. These injectors are responsible to deliver fuel to single cylinder. The major difference between auto multiport injectors and direct injectors is that the multiport injectors deliver fuel to the intake at each intake port and direct fuel injectors spray the fuel into each combustion chamber of the engine.
How does a Fuel Injector work?
Fuel injectors can be further differentiated into Poppet valve Fuel injectors and Pintle valve fuel injectors.
Fuel injectors that operate using pintle valve use solenoids to function. The ECU activates the solenoid which causes it to undergo linear movement and this linear motion causes the pintle to move away from its position. A mist of highly pressured fuel then begins to spray from the pintle nozzle.
But in case of fuel injectors that operate using poppet valves, fuel pressure is used instead of solenoid. The maxi injector receives constant amount of pressurized fuel which is delivers to each cylinder with the help of nylon lines. After reaching sufficient level of pressure, the poppets are forced to open which results in fine mist spraying into intake port. When the pressure decreases, the valve poppet valve closes again.
When to replace Fuel Injectors?
When a fuel injector begins to fail due to contamination, it typically needs to be replaced. Let us look at some common symptoms to look for when you need fuel injector replacement.
Restrictions in the fuel injectors
A restriction of 8% to 10 % in a single fuel injector can lean out the fuel mixture and will eventually cause an engine misfire. Direct fuel injectors are prone to restrictions as the precise amount of fuel is injected into combustion chamber.
Increase or Decrease in long and short term fuel trims
If a fuel injector becomes too clogged with fuel varnish deposits and fails to deliver its normal dose of fuel the PCM may not be able to increase the injector. Sometimes fuel pressure can also be affected by weak fuel pump or leaky fuel pressure regulator.
This phenomenon will eventually result in a lean air fuel mixture and will ultimately cause misfire.
Engine Misfire and decrease in fuel economy
It is one of the most common symptoms of a failing fuel injector. You will start noticing performance issues with engine whenever the fuel injector starts malfunctioning.
Performance problems often arise if the air fuel mixture is tampered due to bad fuel injector. You will notice certain symptoms like car's engine misfiring, loss in power, decreasing fuel economy and stalled engine in worst case.
Vehicle won’t start with full tank
Fuel contamination also results in failing fuel injectors. Symptoms of contaminated fuel can include hard starting, stalling, loss of power and poor fuel economy. The symptoms of fuel contamination appear immediately after refueling. In this case, you will also notice the fuel gauge needle pegged on full which is not a good sign.
Check Engine light appears
A lean mixture may trigger misfire code and turn on the check engine light. There are various symptoms of check engine light’s appearance on dash. Call your technician to decipher the misfire code and determine exact cause for the appearance of check engine light.
There may be clogged fuel injectors or electrical issues with the computer that are triggering the check engine light to alert you. At this moment, it is best to get your computer scanned by the technician for trouble codes.
Strong fuel smell
As the fuel injectors hold very high pressure while delivering fuel to chambers, this high pressure could cause them to develop leaks at the nozzle. A leaky fuel injector will pass fuel into the chamber while leaky seal will leak fuel at the base of injector. It will produce a strong fuel smell. Smells are not good for engine’s health.
So as soon as you notice fuel smell get your car checked by a professional.
Neglected maintenance may also lead to failing fuel injector. Contaminated fuel, not changing oil, damaging PCV system can damage fuel injector as well as fuel pump camshaft lobe.
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