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The Difference Between Leaking and Clogged Fuel Injectors

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Germany’s Mercedes-Benz introduced and fuel injectors the fuel injection system into automobiles in 1954. The European automobile manufacturer took advantage of fuel injection to power its W196 Formula 1 racer. Mercedes-Benz used the Bosch direct injection engineering found in aircraft engines for the race car and made the technology commercial in 1955 with the 300SL. Since then, fuel injection has become standard in automobile manufacturing. It can also be frustrating. 610AutoHaus explains why below.

How Fuel Injection Work

Basically, fuel injectors spray gasoline into your automobile engine’s combustion chamber. The injectors use nozzles to create a fine mist of gasoline that ignites quickly and burns easily. How much gas is sprayed into the chamber is controlled by an electrical or mechanical control unit. Two things can happen to fuel injectors that affect their performance: they can get clogged or they can leak.

Clogged Fuel Injection

Fuel injector nozzles clog over time due to the natural fuel-burning process. When gasoline and air burn, i.e. combustion, they leave carbon deposits on the fuel injectors. Signs of clogged fuel injectors include

  • Hard starts
  • Rough idling
  • Emissions failure
  • Engine performance issues
  • RPM reduction
  • Bucking or surging engine
  • Excess exhaust
  • Knocking engine

These signs can be subtle at first, so you might not realize your injectors are getting clogged. If you have over 60,000 miles on your automobile, the injectors likely have carbon deposit buildup on them.

Leaking Fuel Injection

Fuel injectors can also leak, although this isn’t as common as clogged fuel injectors. Two things can cause the leaks: o-ring failure or a cracked injector body or nozzle. Leaking fuel injector signs include clogged fuel injector signs plus

  • Excessive fuel consumption
  • Gasoline odors
  • Thinning oil
  • Hydro lock

If the injector leak is external, i.e. a cracked nozzle or injector body, you run the risk of setting your engine on fire because excess gasoline is making its way into the engine. Thinned oil and hydro locking can also destroy your vehicle’s engine.

Cleaning Injectors

One way to keep clogs or leaks at bay is with regular cleaning. The general rule of thumb is that injectors should be cleaned every 60,000 to 100,000 miles, but your owner’s manual will cite the specific recommendation for your car. This cleaning should be done by professionals as this allows us to inspect the fuel injectors as well and replace any cracked or leaking injectors.

Bring your vehicle into 610AutoHaus for a fuel injector cleaning. You’ll find our shop in Pottstown, PA.

Call 610AutoHaus at 610-427-4505 for an appointment today!

Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev from Getty Images via Canva Pro
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