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Caring for Fuel Injectors

Caring for Fuel Injectors

Your vehicle’s fuel injectors play a crucial role in delivering the proper amount of fuel to the engine. Caring for fuel injectors not only extends their lives but ensures your vehicle’s fuel economy stays within range. Most people never think about fuel injectors, but ignoring them can mean big trouble. If your vehicle’s engine doesn’t receive fuel or receives the wrong amount, you’ll be going nowhere fast or, in the case of the wrong amount, you’ll get a lot of backlash with spitting and sputtering or using too much fuel.


Caring for Fuel Injectors

How Fuel Injection Works

The fuel injectors are part of the fuel injection system, which includes the fuel pump, fuel lines, and the electronic control module (ECM). The ECM uses various sensors to determine how much fuel the engine requires based on the driver’s input, the amount of moisture in the air, and several other factors.

Most vehicles now use direct fuel injection, which means the injectors spray fuel directly into the cylinders. An example of indirect fuel injection is a throttle body, which looks similar to a carburetor. The injectors spray fuel into the intake, where it is mixed with air and sucked into the cylinders.

On the intake stroke, the crank pulls the piston down and creates a vacuum, which sucks a 14:1 combination of air and fuel into the chamber. While some vehicles may use a slightly different ratio, 14 parts air and 1 part fuel is the ultimate combination for gas combustion engines. The computer fires the injector, which sprays the proper amount of fuel into the cylinder.

On the second stroke, the piston rises, compressing the fuel and air to create heat. The spark plug ignites the volatile mixture and shoves the piston down for the combustion stroke – the air and fuel mixture explode and burn, creating power. On the fourth stroke, the exhaust stroke, the piston rises and pushes unburned fuel out of the cylinders. At the end of the fourth / exhaust stroke, the process starts all over again, which means the injectors can fire up to 80 times in just one second.


How Fuel Injectors Can Fail

A fuel injector sprays high-pressure fuel into the cylinder through a tiny nozzle. It fires about 18 million times over 12,000 miles, so there’s no surprise that it can fail. Quality of fuel and how you take care of the injectors can make them last longer. Fuel injectors can fail in several ways, including:

  • They just wear out over time.
  • Dirty fuel can clog the injectors.
  • Fuel additives can clog the injectors.

Fuel injectors can even become stuck open or closed. All of these factors affect the spray pattern and the amount of fuel going into each cylinder and can cause the engine to run rich (too much fuel) or lean (not enough fuel). It affects fuel mileage and can cause one or more cylinders to misfire.


Caring for Fuel Injectors

Because you cannot repair fuel injectors – you can only replace them; as part of your engine maintenance, always clean them. Having an experienced auto technician clean the fuel injectors at least once per year can help increase the life of the injectors.

Also, running fuel injection cleaner through the system with every other full tank of fuel can help increase the life of the injectors and ensure they stay lubricated. But even this can’t clean all the gunk that could clog injectors. They need to be professionally cleaned once or twice per year, depending on the fuel you use. Fuel filters should be changed pursuant to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. If there are none, change the fuel filters every 30,000 miles. Additionally, you should have a complete fuel injection service every 50,000 to 60,000 miles.


Contact Mac’s Radiators & Automotive Services

Whether your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends it or not, keeping your fuel injectors clean is good practice. When it’s time to clean them or if you need to replace the fuel injectors, contact the Mac’s Radiators & Automotive Services closest to you, whether in Portland, Beaverton, Bend, Eugene or Salem, Oregon or in Boise, Idaho.



Mac's Radiator is the best mechanic to help you with all of your mechanic needs!  Let Macs help you - we are located in 6 convenient locations, for when you need us close to home, or when you're on the road.




Portland, OR      (503) 777-4706
Beaverton, OR  (503) 646-2943
Bend, OR            (541) 382-6963
Boise, ID            (208) 344-1722
Eugene, OR        (541) 344-0253
Salem, OR          (503) 364-7129

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