When the fuel injector in your vehicle fails, it's a serious problem. Getting it replaced may not be the cheapest repair that you can get done in your car, but this is definitely not the kind of thing that you want to let slide. The cost of replacing your fuel injector is going to be in the neighbourhood of $250 to $500. Obviously, this very much depends on where you live and the make, model, and year of your vehicle.
Repairs on higher-end vehicles tend to always cost more than those on more common cars. As well, where you live in America has a great impact on repair costs. Repairs in Los Angeles are rarely the same price as repairs that are done in Wyoming.
If you go to a site like AutoZone you can see what it cost to buy a replacement fuel injector for your car. Prices range from $60 all the way up to about $400. You definitely need to make sure you know what kind of fuel injector you need before committing to a purchase when they get that expensive.
The cost of labor is always going to drastically increase the cost of a repair over that of just the part alone. You're paying for the time and the expertise of a mechanic after all. When you do take your car in to get repaired by a professional always make sure you know it's with a mechanic you could trust.
If you don't have a mechanic right now that you consider trustworthy, then it never hurts to check with friends and family for their recommendations as well as looking online. Thanks to the internet these days it's easy to check reviews of local shops. You should be able to find out which mechanics around town have a reputation for performing fast, reliable work at a fair price.
What is a Fuel Injector?
Fuel injectors are not particularly complicated pieces of machinery. The fuel injectors in your car, as the name suggests, inject fuel into the intake manifold right in front of the intake valves of your engine. The fuel pump sends fuel up to the injectors via pressure. The fuel is then squirted out a tiny nozzle in the fuel injector where it's aerosolized. The amount of fuel that is squirted out by the fuel injector is very precisely calculated. It also has to come out at the exact right time, and for the precise duration of time.
Each burst of fuel that comes out of the fuel injector is ignited in the chamber to create the combustion action when it mixes with oxygen. This happens many times per minute to ensure that your engine is functioning properly and burning fuel at the precise right ratio. They operate at the same RPM as a 2-stroke engine and half the RPMs of a four-stroke, and so on. That means there are openings in the neighbourhood of 138,000 times per hour.
Because your fuel injectors have to be so precisely timed and they operate with hypodermic size tiny holes, they're subject to clogs, build up, and more that can cause them to malfunction.
Symptoms of a Bad Fuel Injector
Because of the precision nature of the way a fuel injector works, it's prone to failing in several ways. As with any system in your car, these symptoms could be indicative of another problem. However, if you do notice any of these problems, you definitely want to give the fuel injectors a look to see if that is the root of the issue.
- Vibrating Engine: When your fuel injector isn't working properly it's not able to supply the fuel either in the right amount or at the right time to the engine. That means when the particular chamber that the fuel injector corresponds to attempts to do its job, it will be unable to fire correctly and you'll feel a vibration as that section of the engine fails to fire properly.
- Engine Misfires: If your fuel injector is clogged too badly and it can't spray the fuel at all into the chamber, then your engine will misfire as a result. That will cause a noticeable decrease in acceleration, and if it continues to happen then you were going to be experiencing poor fuel economy as well.
- Car Won't Start: If the condition of your fuel injectors is bad enough, then you won't be getting any fuel at all into the combustion chamber and you are engine. That means when you turn the key or press the button to start your vehicle, it simply won't happen. This is a rare side effect of a faulty fuel injector as each chamber should have its own injector and it's not usual for all of them to fail at the same time, but it's not impossible either.
- Engine Stalls: Because the amount of fuel is no longer consistent in your vehicle, then you're likely to suffer some rough idling when you're at a standstill to the point that the engine may stall entirely because the RPMs dropped too low.
- Fuel Leaks: If there is a break in your injector, or the nozzle is clogged so badly it can't spray she will properly anymore, you may notice fuel leaking from your injectors. It will drip down, and you'll likely see small puddles under your car when it's parked. If it's not that bad, you may still notice fuel accumulation around the injectors on a visual inspection. Gasoline is always easy to identify compared to other weeks that may occur in your engine based solely on the smell alone.
- Rough Idling: When you're at a standstill but your car is still running, if your fuel injectors are not working properly you may have some issues with rough idling. You'll feel a shaking ass in the car, and it will seem like it's about to stop frequently. This can of course lead to a full engine stall.
- Smell: If you're smelling gasoline when you get in your car, then it's a good sign that something is wrong. You should never be smelling gas when you're not actually filling the fuel tank. This is always a sign that you need to get your car checked out immediately, because when gas is exposed the risk of fire is always prevalent.
- Poor Gas Mileage: When the injectors are not working properly then your gas mileage will suffer as a result. You'll find that you're having to gas up far more often than usual as a result of your engine requiring it to spray more fuel because it's not being burned correctly thanks to the injectors malfunctioning.
- Engine Surge: This is caused by the injectors not spraying the correct amount of fuel into the chamber for combustion. You'll notice that your acceleration is slower, and that the RPM of your vehicle is changing frequently as you're driving.
- Check Engine Light: In fairness, this will come up on your dash as a result of many different problems happening. But if it happens in conjunction with any of the other symptoms that we listed, you definitely want to do exactly what it says and have someone check out your engine to make sure your fuel injectors are working properly.
- Failed Emission Test: Not every state requires that you emission test anymore so this won't always be relevant. If you do fail an emissions test it could definitely be a result of the wrong fuel mix burning in your engine which is leading to an increase in dangerous emissions.
It's not always easy to tell based on a quick visual inspection on your own if the fuel injectors are the cause of any of these problems. If you're not sure, it's always an advisable plan to go see a train mechanic so they can get to the root of the problem quickly and easily for you.
It's worth noting that no part of your car is meant to last forever, and that includes the fuel injector. You should be able to get at least 100,000 miles out of your fuel injectors before they need any work done on them, however. If something happens before then, then we might just benefit from a cleaning.
Can I Replace My Own Fuel Injectors?
Fuel injectors are something that you can replace yourself if you're feeling up to the task, rather than taking it to a mechanic to get the job done. We would consider this an intermediate repair job, so if you haven't done much work under the hood before then you may want to leave this one for the professionals.
If you are comfortable doing some basic repairs already, for instance if you can easily handle a task like replacing a fuel filter or something like swapping out an ignition switch, then there's a good chance with a little guidance you should be able to manage this task as well. The labour cost associated with replacing your fuel injectors can be quite high, so there's definitely a benefit for handling this job on your own.
One thing to consider before looking into doing this kind of work is that fuel injectors can greatly benefit from a cleaning if their performance isn't up to snuff. You can actually buy a bottle of injector cleaner fairly cheaply and give that a try to see if it improves the performance at all. It's recommended that fuel injectors get a decent cleaning about as often as you might change your oil.
If a bottle of do-it-yourself cleaner doesn't get the job done, you can also get a professional cleaning for more serious clogs as well. Both of these are options that can be looked into before a full replacement of the injectors is necessary. The cleaning solution is fairly inexpensive and you can pick up some at AutoZone for as little as $10.A professional cleaning job will set you back a little bit more, perhaps upwards of $100. That's still a good trade-off compared to the cost of having to get your injector replaced at a mechanic though.
If you do need to fully replace a fuel injector but if it's a job you hadn't tried before, then you need to look up a guide online. Fortunately, there are a number of walkthroughs they can give you the step by step process. Even better, there are some videos that you can watch made by some extremely skilled mechanics who can show you the process step by step so you know exactly what to do, taking all the guesswork out of it for you.
Always remember with a job like this to make sure any gaskets and hoses are well cleaned afterwards. You don't want any spilled gasoline to be left behind where it has the potential to eat through something and wear it down over time. It may not happen quickly, but any residue like that could cause parts to degrade as time goes on. Working safely and cleanly is always the best idea.
If, after checking out some of the guides and the videos on how to do the job, you're not fully confident, then that's fine. It's always best to be safe rather than sorry. There are plenty of mechanics who can do this job for you if you don't feel that you can handle it on your own. With something as serious as your fuel system, you don't really want to leave this one to chance.
The Bottom Line
Your fuel injectors are absolutely integral to the proper functioning of your vehicle. When your engine continues to do something like misfire or burn rich, that can cause some severe damage over time. What could be just a couple hundred dollars to repair the injectors can end up being several thousand dollars worth of repairs because of heat in your engine causing damage to the pistons or the cylinders.
It's definitely in your best interest to get this looked at right away just save yourself the hassle and money in the long run.