All modern vehicles come with fuel injection systems so it’s a topic we all need to know something about. All new cars and trucks in the last 30 years or so have come with fuel injection systems.
The fuel injector is a valve that delivers the gas or diesel fuel to the right place, in the right amount, at the right time; to be mixed with air and burned in the engine.
So how many fuel injectors does a car have? There’s one for each cylinder. So four, six or eight for most folks. Some vehicles have 10 or 12 cylinders. The engine control computer makes adjustments to the fuel injector as it monitors the engine and other sensors. Fuel injectors are a pretty sophisticated part.
Now most service centers offer a fuel injector cleaning service. What’s the benefit? In order to work right, the fuel injectors have to deliver the fuel at a precise pressure at a very precise time. The fuel needs to be sprayed in a particular pattern as determined by the engine design.
Over time, varnish can start to build up in the fuel injectors, effecting the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel charge. The result is that the fuel doesn’t get burned as efficiently as it could. That robs performance and wastes fuel.
What about dirty fuel – how does that affect the fuel injectors? The fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel system. It starts at the fuel tank. Frankly, the best way to keep your fuel injectors working well is to use high quality fuel. Its real tempting to shop for bargains with fuel prices as high as they are, but major brands have better detergents and additives and deliver consistent quality.
What about a good fuel filter? The fuel filter is the next device in the fuel system. Its job is to filter out the dirt and rust that collect in the fuel tank. If it’s clogged up, the dirt will bypass the filter and head upstream to the fuel injectors.
It’s important to replace the fuel filter when your manufacturer recommends it. That’s part of a comprehensive fuel system cleaning.
There are different kinds of fuel injection systems. Port fuel injection systems, the kind most gasoline engines have, operate at 60 pounds per square inch. The injectors for the new gas direct injection engines we’re starting to see require 10 to 30 times as much pressure. And some diesel engines for passenger vehicles have injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch. There’s no room for dirt and gum in a precision part like that.
There are a lot of good products out there that can clean fuel injectors. They’re best used to prevent fouling in the fuel injectors. Many can’t clean a seriously gummed up injector – that requires a profession deep cleaning. But putting the cleaner in the fuel tank after you’ve had your center service you fuel system will help keep it clean. Be sure to read the label for directions.