Can You Drive With a Bad Fuel Injector? (Dangers and Effects)

The fuel injector is an important component in the management system of an engine. However, Can you drive with a bad fuel injector? You will find the answer as you read on.

Ignoring a faulty fuel injector is dangerous because it could lead to irreversible problems with your engine.

This article will give some insight into these potential threats and how they can be avoided. Frequent questions concerning fuel injection will also be answered as you keep reading.

Is Driving With a Bad Fuel Injector Safe?

Can You Drive With a Bad Fuel Injector

Driving with a bad fuel injector is not safe. When one or more fuel injectors get faulty, it may be due to driving for long, electrical or mechanical problems, and wear. It could lead to issues like fuel pre-ignition, engine flooding, failure of your vehicle to ignite, or stalling.

Some signs of faulty fuel injectors are listed below.

  1. When the fuel injector is dirty, it can still deliver fuel in a gaseous state but will be insufficient for the vehicle’s engine. It will only lead to an engine misfire.
  2. When the fuel injector is stuck and cannot open in order to send gasoline to the intake zone, the vehicle will not ignite.
  3. When there is leakage from the fuel injectors, it means the fuel leakage is in a liquid state and not gaseous, and this could be dangerous. You can stop driving till the problem is settled. Else, this may result in a hydrostatic lock in which the piston, connecting rods, and valves could bend or break, especially if the engine is an interference type.
  4. When the fuel injector gets stuck on your nozzle because of poor control, it could also lead to a hydrostatic lock, causing the nozzle to fire more gasoline than necessary, and the system will become flooded leading to dirty spark plugs.

With the above symptoms, it is quite obvious that a faulty fuel injector will be destructive to your vehicle’s engine. Replacing a faulty fuel injector is much cheaper and easier compared to an entire engine. If you go ahead and ignore all these signs and decide to keep driving, the following will be the outcome:

  1. Piston Damage
  2. Burnt Pistons
  3. Hydrostatic lock
  4. Black fumes from the exhaust
  5. Jerking
  6. Breaking or bending of the connecting rods
  7. Bending or breaking of valves
  8. System flooding
  9. Malfunction due to dirty spark plugs.

Also Read: 6 Fuel Pressure Sensor Symptoms (+ Solutions)

Dangers of Driving With a Bad Fuel Injector

Fuel injectors are components of an engine management system, and their role is to spray gasoline into an engine. The right quantity of fuel an engine needs is supplied by the injector, and it equally ensures efficient burning.

However, if the injector becomes faulty, it could lead to the engine running lean. Meaning the amount of fuel it’ll supply to the engine will not be sufficient, and this will reduce the engine’s efficiency.

Additionally, running lean could cause damage to the engine and bad fuel economy.

The car may continue driving with a bad fuel injector, but after a short while, the engine may develop different issues. Therefore, fixing a faulty injector is important to prevent further engine damage.

The problem will prevail even when you are idling, and the best option will be to park and contact a towing truck. A clear understanding of the warning signals is important. Continue reading to find out.

Bad Fuel Injector Symptoms

Can You Drive With a Bad Fuel Injector

Get the fuel injectors cleaned so that they can spray the correct quantity of fuel into the engine’s cylinder at the appropriate time. The nozzle helps fuel supply and ensures that the combustion process is clean and smooth. Therefore, you have to clean regularly with an appropriate injector cleaner.

Your fuel should have the right fuel/air mixture, which is possible with the vehicle’s Engine Control Unit sensor. If one or more injectors become faulty, the vehicle’s engine will perform poorly. In severe cases, there will be difficulty in starting the engine.

A rapid fix is important. To do that effectively, you must know the common signals that accompany a faulty fuel injector. What occurs when the injector becomes faulty? They include:

1. Engine Vibration

The vibration will occur when the engine tries completing an operating cycle with zero or little fuel going into the manifold intake. What makes this happen? Failure of the bad fuel injector to inject fuel through the nozzle leads to an inability of the corresponding cylinder to fire.

2. Check Engine Light Turns On

The display of the check engine light is another common sign of a faulty injector. The light only illuminates on the dashboard if there is an issue with your vehicle’s engine.

If you notice this light, you should inspect your fuel injectors. When the amount of gasoline supplied by a bad fuel injector reduces, the engine’s efficiency also becomes low. This situation could also trigger the illumination of the check engine light. Further diagnosis using an OBD2 scanner could help provide a quick remedy.

3. Engine Misfires

Have you ever experienced the misfiring of an engine? The misfire may appear strange and frustrating for most vehicle owners. However, engine misfire could also be caused by dirty or faulty injectors due to the small or zero provision of gasoline in the vehicle’s combustion chamber.

Most often, this results from problems with the injectors, which creates the fuel/air mixture imbalance. Such cases could begin sending vibrations through the car.

4. Fuel Smell

When you drive with a faulty fuel injector, you tend to perceive some bad fuel odor. This odor sign mostly indicates an injector leak. Nonetheless, with the fuel not burning in the combustion cylinder, you will still experience the gasoline smell.

It could also be a result of misdiagnosing the ECU receiving sensors, which sends an instruction to the system to inject more fuel. If the injected gasoline is in excess, the smell of fuel lingers in the vehicle.

5. Fuel Leakage

Cracks or breaks on the injector due to usage, over time, could cause gas leakage. Once the fuel injectors are leaking, the flow of gasoline to the fuel injector’s nozzle may be prevented. And this will result in a lack of fuel for the engine’s operations.

The deterioration of the injector seal could also cause these leaks. As a result, more gasoline leaks through, making the gasoline easily noticed by its trail. You may probably want to examine your injectors if you observe the sign.

6. Poor Fuel Economy

Faulty fuel injectors can also lead to poor fuel economy. This problem arises when fuel is not supplied adequately to the combustion cylinder. In summary, the lesser the amount of fuel you supply to your engine, the lesser the vehicle’s fuel economy.

7. Engine Stalls

Does your engine stall at random, without any obvious reasons? If yes, a faulty injector could be responsible for it. In addition, the ECU often stops the engine when enough fuel does not get into the combustion cylinder from the fuel injectors. This causes engine stalling.

8. Rough Engine Idle

For cars like BMW and other vehicle engines, a decrease in RPM while idling is a common signal of a faulty fuel injector. The sound of the faulty injector could also indicate that the right amount of

gasoline needed by the injector to make the engine function may not be provided.

9. Engine Surge

Engine Surge is a common symptom of a faulty injector. When excess fuel is supplied by the injectors and with a constant load, the RPM will experience some changes. In summary, you may not see the constant RPM in such a condition.

If the fuel is sprayed in excess to the complementary chamber of the fuel injectors, this noticeable surge causes “slow” speed.

Note: The gasoline from the tank goes into the injectors from the fuel pump by moving through the fuel line. Therefore, a faulty fuel pump implies an insufficient fuel supply to the injectors.

However, this issue can be detected early if you carry out a periodic fuel induction service in the vehicle.

Also Read: 10 Bad O2 Sensor Symptoms (Causes and Solutions)

What Causes Fuel Injectors to Go Bad?

Can You Drive With a Bad Fuel Injector

Your fuel injector will barely have any issue if you try maintaining proper maintenance. In the absence of that, they start getting clogged or faulty. A bad injector will lead to severe pollution in the environment.

This is due to unclean combustion caused by insufficient fuel in the engine. Also, note that the fuel supply to your engine must be in the correct fuel pressure, angle, and spray pattern.

The fuel injectors, the fuel pump, and the filter all work together to ensure that the correct air and fuel mixture is supplied to the engine. Unfortunately, the vehicle’s combustion cylinder can only ignite and supply power to the engine after a sufficient supply of air and fuel. This insufficient fuel can also lead to the car starting without running.

How Do You Fix a Bad Fuel Injector?

Having a replacement is the best option for a faulty injector. Get a qualified technician to carry out the replacement.

The first step will be to diagnose to ensure the injector is faulty. Then replacement of the entire injector will be suggested to avoid further issues in the future.

Generally, when a single injector gets faulty, there is a possibility that others will join soon, so replacing all is a better option.

The model and make of your car will determine the replacement cost. However, the repair is relatively expensive.

With that, you could expect an average replacement price between a high hundred and mid-thousands.

Can You Clean Fuel Injectors Yourself?

You can clean the fuel injectors, but leaving it to a professional is the best. They have the required experience and knowledge to do it properly.

Cleaning all the injectors is extensive work, and the necessary tools to get them done may be lacking. Also, cleaning the injectors by yourself could lead to further irreparable damage.

How Can I Prevent Fuel Injector Issues?

Getting a periodic service done on the injectors is the best means of avoiding injector issues. This regular servicing ensures that the injectors are working perfectly and will not get faulty early.

Also, using quality oil and fuel will help prolong the injector life span. Conversely, low-quality oil and fuel could cause a build-up of deposits in the injector, often leading to its failure.

It is also important to avoid running the engine lean. This could be caused by various factors, such as a bad oxygen sensor or a dirty air filter. These issues should be addressed immediately to prevent further harm to the injector.

Finally, for the fuel tank, it is advisable to use a gasoline injector cleaner. Fuel performance and mileage could be assisted with the additives.

How Much Does It Cost to Clean a Fuel Injector?

The model and make of your car will determine the cost of cleaning the fuel injectors. However, you will need about $50 to $100 to get a professional cleaning.

The injectors should be cleaned at least every three years to avoid build-up and ensure an excellent working condition.

When buying a fairly used car, remember to ask the previous owner when last the injectors were properly cleaned. You will have to get it serviced if it exceeds three years.

The injectors could also be cleaned using the correct tools and elbow grease. However, allowing an expert to do the job is advisable because they have the required experience and knowledge required to do it effectively.

Also, they possess the appropriate tools needed to clean perfectly. Cleaning the injectors by yourself could lead to further irreparable damage.

Can You Drive With a Bad Fuel Injector

How Often Should You Replace a Fuel Injector?

Fuel injectors could last about 100,000 miles, depending on the treatment. However, if you fail to service it regularly, it may last about 50,000 miles.

Most injectors are estimated to have the same lifespan as the vehicle, but such cases are rare. Several components affect this, such as the car’s driving conditions, the frequency at which the vehicle is driven, and the quality of fuel used.

The area you live in also affects the injectors. For example, if you live in an area with dirt roads or road salt, the injectors will get damaged prematurely compared to living in a dry and clean area.

Also, if the quality of fuel you use is low, the deposits will settle and lead to a rapid failure of the injectors. Therefore, using a high-quality fuel is the best option; also, ensure the injectors are serviced regularly to avoid problems.

How Many Fuel Injectors Does a Car Have?

The model and make of a vehicle will determine the number of injectors it has. Generally, it is only a single fuel injector for each cylinder.

For instance, you can find four fuel injectors and four cylinders in Honda Civic. Then for Toyota Camry, six fuel injectors and six cylinders.

The injector numbers do not often determine the performance of an engine. For instance, most high-performance vehicles have only 4 or 6 cylinders, but each cylinder has multiple injectors.

Frequently Asked Questions – Can You Drive With a Bad Fuel Injector?

Can you drive with bad fuel injectors?

Yes, driving with a bad fuel injector is possible. However, it may be dangerous because it will lead to the engine running lean. This could, in turn, lead to decreased performance, bad fuel economy, and eventually engine damage.

What happens if you run on bad injectors?

If you run on a faulty injector, it could lead to a misfire. This issue gives a sputtering feeling to the motor, and the vibration is sent through the vehicle. Such misfires could occur if an injector mixes up the subtle balance between air and fuel in the engine.

Can a bad injector ruin an engine?

If you ignore it for so long, a bad fuel injector could lead to severe damage to the engine, requiring a major repair. You can avoid the hassle and cost if you use Diesel Fuel System Treatment or Rislone Gasoline Fuel System Treatment after every three thousand to five thousand miles; this depends on the kind of driving your practice.

How much does it cost to replace a fuel injector?

You could spend an average of $350 to $850 on replacing your injectors. This price range depends on some factors. Smaller cars with lesser cylinders and less expensive components will fall at the end of the range. High-performing and larger engines will have a more expensive repair cost.

What does a bad injector sound like?

As you use the injector, a clicking noise should be heard. If the clicking sound is absent, it is dead, and there will be a need to get it replaced.

How long can you drive with dirty fuel injectors?

You can keep driving for about five thousand miles or extra with a faulty fuel injector. But try as much as possible to avoid driving when your fuel injection is faulty to prevent further damage to other components.

Will a bad injector throw a code?

The Check Engine light illumination on your dashboard is one of the most obvious signals of a blocked injector. The error codes linked to a blocked injector could range from lean codes to misfire codes.

Conclusion

We hope the information provided in this article will help you detect it and understand what to do if you have a bad duel injector. Ensure you always take care of your injectors, avoid corrosion, clean the fuel system, use a better fuel, etc.

If you ignore a faulty injector for so long, it could lead to severe damage to your engine that may need a major repair.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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