Your diesel engine should be an efficient and smoothly running machine. You can get decades of life out of your engine when you have clean parts and everything in the right place. An essential aspect of any engine, diesel or otherwise, is the fuel injection system. Engines use fuel injection systems to keep the amount of fuel going into each of your engine's cylinders consistent and evenly balanced.
Improper fuel injection can cause engine sputtering, stalling, and backfiring, so keeping your injectors in good order is in your best interest. Today, ATL Diesel is here to explain how to clean your Caterpillar fuel injectors and identify when your injectors need cleaning. We will also provide some information on replacing fuel injectors and how you can take care of them to reduce the need for regular cleaning.
What Causes Clogged Fuel Injectors?
Many things may cause your fuel injectors to require cleaning eventually. The most common cause is simply built-up residue and other tiny fragments of materials within your fuel as it passes through the injectors. These bits of debris eventually pack together and can clog the injector leading to blocked or, at the very least, uneven fuel distribution.
Other potential causes may be due to overexposure to the outside, where dirt and dust may work their way into the engine. While these clogs are relatively rare and easy to take care of, it helps to know the root causes to give you a better idea of how to take care of them as soon as possible.
Signs That Your Injectors Need Cleaning
Fortunately for you and unfortunately for your engine, the signs of dirty or clogged fuel injectors are often easy to identify. You may notice some irregularities with your engine. While a few of these signs may have other underlying causes, experiencing any of them should give you a reason to examine your injectors for potential problems.
Some of the most common signs of clogged injectors are if you notice a rough idle or poorer acceleration than usual. Engine misfires are a nearly surefire sign of a dirty or faulty injector, and you should check them out immediately. If you have trouble with your engine start-up or notice worse-than-expected fuel economy, these issues could stem from a clogged fuel injector but often have other underlying causes.
Best Ways To Clean Your Fuel Injectors
While having clogged or dirty fuel injectors isn’t a problem you want to ignore, it is one that’s easy to fix. Here are just some of the ways to clean your Caterpillar fuel injectors and improve most of the common problems that you're bound to run into.
Injector Cleaning Kit
One option that’s easy to recommend is to buy an injector cleaning kit. Cleaning kits may come with a few different things depending on the size, quality, or manufacturer. Most commonly, you'll have a can of cleaning fluid with an attached pressure gauge to help ensure you don't overload your injection system, which can cause cracking or swelling. You should also have a removable hose and some adapters to fit everything properly around your system and injectors. When looking for a Caterpillar injector cleaning kit, you want to ensure it has adapters that properly fit the pieces on your make or model, whether you're working with a C15 engine or one of the 3406 series models.
A cleaning kit containing polyether amine (PEA) can help break up more stubborn gunk or mineral deposits. After using your cleaning kit, it's a good idea to turn your engine on and let it run for a bit. Check for any of the familiar signs that were occurring earlier and see if your injectors are working correctly.
Adding Fuel Injector Cleaner
Aside from using an injector cleaning kit, you may also want to add an injector cleaner directly to your fuel system. Different cleaners work better with varying engine models, so we advise researching and getting one that works best for your Caterpillar model.
The best way to apply your injector cleaner to your fuel system is to turn your engine on and let it warm up for a few minutes. Then turn it off and carefully remove your fuel filter so you can fill it with the cleaner. Once you replace it and ensure there's no air in the housing, start your engine, let it run for a bit, and warm up again. Then turn it off, which will give the additive time to soak up or dissolve problems with your injectors. Then try using your truck or equipment for about half an hour, and once again, pay attention to see if any of the previous problems are still occurring.
While fuel additives may not be the best way to clean out a clogged or blocked fuel injector, they are a great way to keep your system clear of debris in the future. Implementing a fuel additive once a month or so into your system can help prevent blockages from occurring and keep your system operating at top efficiency.
Keeping Your Injectors Clean in the Future
Clogs are a pretty rare occurrence with high-quality fuel injectors, so you don't need to remain too vigilant with them. However, if you're using an additive cleaning system, you may want to give it a more thorough cleaning after 30,000 miles.
If you find yourself in a situation where cleaning your fuel injectors doesn't seem to solve any of the problems, remember that replacing your fuel injectors is always a viable option. In addition, there may be situations where the concern isn't from carbon build-up or dirt blocking the injector but a faulty piece that needs replacing.
ATL Diesel is here to help you with any diesel engine part replacement or maintenance needs. If you need new injectors, we have multiple kits with C15 6NZ Cat engine parts. Our website catalog is easy to navigate and helps you find the correct rebuild kit or replacement parts. Using your engine serial number lets you rest easy knowing you're ordering the correct parts from a qualified, respectable dealer. For more information or if you have any additional questions, comments, or concerns, don't hesitate to contact us anytime; we'd be happy to assist you.