Have you been stopping to get gas more often lately? Or has your car’s gas mileage rapidly decreased? Both of these problems can be frustrating since they directly affect our wallets. Many drivers take fuel efficiency into consideration when purchasing a new car, and we expect it to stay more or less the same over time.
The main culprit involved in decreased fuel efficiency is a dirty fuel injector.
What Is a Fuel Injector?
When you step on the gas pedal, the fuel injector releases a tiny spritz of gasoline, which ignites in the engine and creates the small explosion that accelerates your vehicle. A fuel injector that works properly results in a smooth ride, with easy acceleration.
What Happens When a Fuel Injector Is Dirty or Clogged?
When the fuel injector is dirty or clogged, your car might feel sluggish. Not enough fuel is released to give the car the necessary power to go up hills or easily merge onto the freeway, for example. In fact, you’ll have to press the gas pedal harder or more often in order to get the same effect. That means more fuel is consumed, and your fuel efficiency takes a nose-dive. Your wallet also takes a hit because you have to stop and fill up on gas more often.
A dirty fuel injector is not just an annoyance, but also a driving safety hazard. Fixing dirty fuel injectors may not be at the top of your list of driving safety tips, but rest assured that a properly running vehicle is a big deal when it comes to safety.
A highly responsive car allows you to maneuver easily. Imagine trying to accelerate to get onto a busy freeway and not having enough time to match the existing traffic’s speed by the end of the entrance ramp. The other cars have to brake to accommodate you or may try to quickly merge into the next lane; both scenarios can lead to wrecks.
In addition to that sluggish feeling, the smell of fuel inside the car is often a sign of a poorly functioning fuel injector. Fuel injector problems are also among the many maladies that can cause the check engine light to come on or that can cause the vehicle to have a difficult time starting when the key is turned.
How to Clean a Fuel Injector
There are multiple ways to clean fuel injectors. Always consult your owner’s manual to be sure you perform maintenance safely and correctly!
If you are comfortable doing maintenance on your own vehicle, you can manually clean the fuel injectors. They should be easy to reach and to disconnect so that you can thoroughly clean them.
Many injectors have a filter on the top that can be popped off with a screwdriver, allowing you to soak the filter in a cleaning solution. Spray cleaner onto the injectors themselves and scrub with a stiff brush. Then replace the filter and power up the injector using a 9-volt battery and red and yellow leads. While the injector is connected to the battery, spray the cleaner inside until the solution comes out the other end. Then remove the injector from the battery and let the solution soak inside the injector for approximately 15 minutes. Finally, flush the injector with brake cleaner, powering it up again with the battery to allow the injector to function and flush fully.
Another method is to purchase a fuel injector cleaning kit that allows you to add fuel injector cleaner to the gas, which means you don’t have to remove the injectors, which is ideal for older cars that haven’t been serviced in a while.
When in doubt, remember to ask a professional mechanic to clean the fuel injectors for you!