Part of the beauty of a diesel engine is seeing how the parts move together to create power. Understanding the importance of each piece and how they work to create power makes it easier to identify the root cause of specific problems. One common problem diesel engines may encounter after a while is faulty fuel injectors. Today, ATL Diesel is here to explain the importance of these items and help you identify five signs that your fuel injectors are shot and that you need new ones. It's vital to understand why these are problems you don't want to leave unattended for too long and what you can do about them.
What Are Fuel Injectors?
Fuel injectors are a vital part of your engine that helps distribute a well-balanced amount of fuel into your engine in short bursts. If your engine gets too much or too little fuel as the other parts move, it can create a variety of problems. Not only is driving with faulty fuel injectors an uncomfortable experience, but it can also be potentially dangerous. Improper fuel distribution may cause leaks, which create a fire hazard.
We know that faulty fuel injectors can lead to some serious problems with your engine, but how do you know when there is a problem? Here are some easy-to-identify signs that you may need to get your vehicle into a garage and replace your fuel injectors as soon as possible.
1. Bad Fuel Economy
If your engine is struggling to distribute fuel effectively, an unfortunate and natural side-effect is that you’re going to have worse fuel efficiency. Faulty or clogged injectors are a common sign of increased fuel consumption. This worse fuel economy can force you to spend a lot of additional time and money at the gas station, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to your mileage and see how much fuel you’re using. If it seems like you’re filling up more often than normal, it may be time to inspect your injectors and see if there are any problems.
2. Engine Misfires
Engine misfires are a common side effect of faulty injectors. If you press down on the vehicle’s pedal and experience a lack of acceleration, this may be a sign that your fuel injectors are shot, and you need new ones. Engine misfires are a temporary lack of power getting to your engine, typically because of the imbalance of fuel getting to your engine. The off-center air/fuel mixture results in a small loss of power that can create an unsettling vibration in your vehicle and a peculiar sensation when you try to accelerate. When the timing, delivery, and mixture of your fuel are off, engine misfires are easy to notice. You may be able to fix this problem by cleaning your fuel injectors rather than replacing them. However, if the problem persists or comes back quicker than anticipated, replacing the fuel injectors may be the best option.
3. Rough Idles or Engine Stalls
It's easy to enjoy the gentle rumble and purr of the engine. In fact, the unique sounds of a diesel engine are one of the many reasons why enthusiasts love them so much. However, you may eventually start to notice rougher, more erratic sounds coming from your engine. If you begin to observe strange vibrations, especially when your vehicle is idle, your injectors could be the problem. Similar to misfires, rough idles and other engine stalls come from an improper distribution of fuel to your engine. When the timing is off, and your engine tries to use fuel that isn't there, it can result in a rumble, stall, or loud sound. If you suspect that there are problems with your fuel injectors, try to pay close attention to the feel and sounds of your engine when you're idling. Catching issues early may make them easier and more cost-effective to solve when the time comes.
4. Check Engine Light
Many people develop the bad habit of ignoring their vehicle’s check engine light. It’s true that sometimes the light may come on for minor reasons that don’t impact the performance of your vehicle. However, it’s always a good idea to quickly identify the reason why the light came on and see what you can do to turn it off. Whether the light is consistently on or you notice it is blinking or turning on slightly erratically, it's worth examining and performing an engine diagnostic to get to the root of the problem. In more serious cases, a check engine light may signify that your engine is not getting fuel to any of the right cylinders and won't start at all. If your engine fails to start, we recommend cleaning out the fuel injectors; that will hopefully allow you to drive safely to a mechanic or garage to perform a more in-depth inspection.
5. Erratic RPM Needle
One of the best places to check for any irregularities in your machine is your dashboard. Taking a quick peek at the different gauges and data available right behind the wheel can make for a safer driving experience. We use the dashboard to check how we’re doing on gas, monitor vehicle mileage, and regulate the overall temperature of the vehicle. Another gauge worth examining is your RPM meter. Clogged or shot fuel injectors may result in an erratic tachometer that bounces back and forth without providing you with a good reading. Whether your injectors supply too little or too much fuel, getting an accurate RPM reading may be difficult. That bouncing needle may be a strong indicator that you need to clean out or replace your fuel injectors.
If you have any questions about repairing or replacing fuel injectors on your diesel engine, ATL is here for you. We have several helpful blogs that teach you how to manage your engine and an extensive storefront where you can find high-quality replacement parts for a wide range of engines from multiple manufacturers. If you need Caterpillar engine diesel parts, let ATL help you. You can input your engine’s serial number into our catalog to ensure you’re getting the right parts for your machine. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. A helpful member of our team will assist you with your queries.