Signs Your Engine Injectors Are Worn
Posted on June 11 2021
Before the 1980s, most vehicles contained carburetors—nifty little components that handled part of the combustion process. But we’ve largely replaced carburetors with newer and more efficient technology.
Nowadays, you'll be hard-pressed to find cars or trucks equipped with carburetors. The bulk of modern vehicles instead feature advanced fuel injection systems. These systems are comprised of many parts—sensors, a fuel pump, and fuel injectors.
In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know about the most critical part of the fuel injection system—the injectors—including signs your engine injectors are worn and what to do if you suspect yours are faulty.
What Are Fuel Injectors? What Do They Do?
The fuel injectors are an integral part of your vehicle's fuel injection system. The fuel injection system is what ensures the engine receives the correct amount of air and fuel, which it uses during the combustion process to create the energy that powers the entire vehicle.
It might sound complicated, but the way the system works is surprisingly straightforward and simple to comprehend. The fuel pump, as the name might imply, pumps fuel to the injectors. The fuel injectors take this fuel and spray it into the intake manifold at a precise angle. Inside of the intake manifold, air and fuel mix together. The mixture gets transferred and then compressed inside of the combustion chamber. This ignites the chemical reaction required to generate power for the engine. It's as basic as that!
Signs the Injectors Are Worn
Most performance problems result from cracked or clogged injectors. If your vehicle's performance has diminished, it could be due to injectors that don’t function as they should.
There are three solutions to cracked or clogged injectors —repair, replacement, or a thorough cleaning. The real challenge isn’t getting them fixed. It’s detecting problems with the injectors in the first place. Most people don't regularly crack open the hood of their vehicle and perform inspections for fun, which means that they're unlikely to notice problems with the injectors until they begin to cause drivability and performance issues.
Let's look at some of the most common signs your engine injectors are worn, so you can catch damaged injectors before they lead to significant problems.
Fuel Economy Tanks
Injectors are supposed to boost the engine's fuel economy, not make it worse. If you've been visiting the gas station more often, check the injectors for debris or wear. A trip to the mechanic might seem costly, but the amount of money you'll have to shell out for fuel if you ignore the problem will prove substantially heftier.
Engine Won't Start
There's nothing more frustrating than a truck that just won't start. If the injectors aren't working correctly, the engine will have a tough time generating the combustion required to power your truck. In rare circumstances, faulty injectors can even lead to complete engine failure.
Does your truck shake and wobble as you drive it around? These vibrations could be signs that the injectors need attention. If one or more of the injectors are faulty, the air-to-fuel ratio can get thrown off balance. When this happens, the respective cylinder will misfire. This results in the engine sputtering after each cycle.
If the needle on the tachometer (also known as the RPM gauge) is jumping back and forth without rhyme or reason, your injectors might be clogged up with debris. Faulty injectors can cause the tachometer to go haywire, so if you notice the needle moving around unpredictably, have the injectors checked for carbon deposits or other contaminants.
Your truck doesn't just vibrate when you drive—it sputters and shakes when you're waiting at red lights and stop signs, too. The needle on the tachometer hasn't stopped moving around, either. Rough idling is characterized by bouncing and shaking sensations, unusual noises, and an RPM that varies wildly.
The culprit causing the engine to stall and idle could very well be a dirty injector. A clogged injector will have difficulties spraying the right amount of fuel into the intake manifold, which can lead to an unbalanced air and fuel mixture and, consequently, performance issues.
The good old check engine light. It does its best to alert you to anything awry with the engine, but because there are so many potential reasons it might turn on, it tends to make drivers more confused than enlightened. A glowing or flashing CEL can indicate anything from a loose gas cap to faulty injectors.
A lit CEL isn't a surefire sign of clogged or worn injectors, but it does indicate a problem with the engine—potentially the injectors—that you should check out.
If the cabin reeks of fuel, you might have a damaged injector or a faulty sensor on your hands. When fuel gets left unburned, the smell tends to waft in all directions. Unburnt fuel can result from leaks or an impish sensor that's encouraging the computer to inject way more fuel than needed.
Keep in mind that gas leaks can be dangerous, so if you smell fuel, take your truck in for an inspection as soon as possible.
What Should I Do if I Experience Any of These Signs?
Experiencing one or more of these signs? Take your truck to a mechanic or dealership for an inspection. If the sources of your problems are damaged or clogged injectors, you’ll need to have them repaired or thoroughly cleaned.
However, there's also a chance that you’ll need to replace one or more of the injectors. If you have to replace them, we recommend using high-quality aftermarket parts. These parts are much more durable and longer-lasting than their stock counterparts. They also flow at a higher capacity, which translates into better performance and more power for your truck.
If you need new and reliable injectors to replace your old and worn ones, come and check out Dr. PerformanceRX's selection of diesel fuel injectors for sale! Our Twisted Series Injectors are designed for both durability and efficiency and will help you unlock the true potential of your truck.