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The workings of a car's fuel system



The workings of a car's fuel system

Learning how the various systems of your car works allows you to not only become more knowledgeable but also allows you to speak intelligently with your mechanic. If you car will not start in the morning and it is the fuel pump causing the problem you will want to know what this means instead of asking a car technician to explain it to you. Learn now about your car's fuel system.

Before learning about the components involved in running the fuel system it is best to have an understanding of what the fuel system accomplishes. The function of the fuel system is to collect and then deliver fuel to the cylinder chamber of your car's engine. Here in the cylinder chamber the fuel is mixed with air as it vaporizes and then the mixtures burns to produce energy. That energy is then converted into a rotary motion that powers your car.

If you look at the fuel system from beginning to end it starts with you putting the fuel into the vehicle at the gas pumps (assuming your car is run by a gasoline engine). The fuel is stored in a fuel tank as you pump it in. The fuel pump then draws the fuel from the tank by way of fuel lines and delivers it through a fuel filter to the fuel injector or if an older car a carburetor. Finally the fuel is delivered to the cylinder chamber for the combustion process to begin.

What is a fuel system comprised of one might ask. The components of a vehicle's fuel system include fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel lines, fuel filter and fuel injectors meaning the fuel injection system or carburetor. Depending on the age of your vehicle there might be other components but these are the basic parts that run a car's fuel system.

The fuel tank is where the fuel is stored after being pumped into the car so let us start with it. To be as basic as possible the fuel tank is a holding container for your fuel to be stored in until the fuel system calls for it to be drawn out. Within this tank is a unit or "floater" that sends a message to the gas gauge telling it how much gas you have available in the fuel tank. Also positioned in the fuel tank are baffles that should prevent the fuel from sloshing back and forth as you drive around.

Next is the fuel pump. It is usually located inside or near the fuel tank. There are two types of fuel pumps - mechanical and electric. Newer cars that are fuel injected have the electric fuel pump while older carbureted automobiles use the mechanical pump. Either fuel pump functions by drawing the fuel out of the fuel tank and sending it onto the fuel filter and injectors via fuel lines. The pump needs to create enough pressure so that the injectors will be able to distribute the correct amount of fuel no matter what the operating conditions.

Fuel lines connect all sections of the fuel system. These lines are usually made of steel or copper. The fuel lines are situated far away from the all parts of the exhaust system, such as the pipes and muffler, to keep that excessive heat from causing problems such as vapor lock. The lines need to be attached securely to the frame and engine so that there is minimal vibration to them that could cause punctures.

Once the fuel has been pushed through the fuel lines it is critical to the whole system that it flows into the fuel filter. The fuel filter is installed within the fuel line so that it can clean the fuel before it is transported on to the injectors. Injectors can become easily clogged which would affect their efficiency. The filter's job is to collect or trap any water or solid material that is in the fuel. Dirt from rust in the fuel tank or condensed moisture could hurt the injectors and engine if they were not filtered out at this point of the fuel system process.

After the fuel filter has done its job the fuel continues on through the system to the fuel injectors. An injector is a minuscule electronically controlled valve that opens and closes as the signal instructs it. When the injector is energized the valve opens allowing the pressurized fuel to squirt out from a small nozzle. The closer the fuel is injected to the cylinder head the better the fuel is atomized and able to burn when ignited by a spark plug.

The final part of a fuel system to be discussed at this time is the carburetor or electric fuel injection system. Some background information should explain if your car is equipped with a carburetor or fuel injection system. Electric fuel injection began to replace the carburetor in the 1980s in Europe and finally caught on with American auto makers at the end of the 1980s / early 1990s. Since that point in time all vehicles built in the United have States fuel injection systems.

The older system, known as a carburetor, needed to be replaced because as cars technologically advance the carburetor became more and more complicated. The more complex it became the more likely there was something that could go wrong. It finally became so difficult for the carburetor to handle all the many operating requirements that it was replaced with the injection system.

This new electric fuel injection system is also known as a multi-port or sequential. This is because this type of system has a fuel injector for each cylinder, usually positioned so that they spray directly into the intake valve. This allows for more accurate fuel metering and a quicker response time.

Fuel injectors are situated within the manifold so that the fuel is sprayed directly into the intake valves. The amount of fuel sprayed is determined by the amount of time the fuel injector remains open. For the right amount of fuel to be used with each spray there are a good amount of sensors used.

The fuel system of your vehicle does not have to be a mystery to you. The components are not as complex as you would first think. You know how to put gasoline into your fuel tank and now know what happens to that fuel as it empties out of the tank so it can run your vehicle.


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