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Start Your Engines With This Knowledge

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Unless you’re a car fanatic or aficionado, you probably don’t know much about the inner workings of your vehicle. This is true for most people, and it’s also true that it’s not necessary for everyone to have specialized knowledge about how their devices tick. At the same time, however, it’s never a bad thing to be knowledgable and learn a bit about how our everyday machines work.

One thing most people know is that the engine is the heart of the vehicle. Without the engine, the car doesn’t start and it certainly doesn’t move. But why is that? How do engines work, and how did they get to be as efficient as they are today?

Engines Over The Years

The idea behind any engine is to take one form of energy and convert it to mechanical energy. In the early days of the engine, steam was used for this purpose. The heat energy given off by water vapor could power large ships and trains, and this type of engine is still used today, though more efficiently. More powerful than the steam engine, however, is the combustion engine.

Combustion engines, like steam engines, deal with energy in the form of heat. The difference, however, is that combustion engines utilize a chemical process (combustion) rather than a physical one (evaporation in the case of steam power). These engines require fuel and an oxidizer. The interaction between these two creates a great deal of energy that can cause mechanical parts to move. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that combustion engines became efficient and commercially used. Today these engines are still used in nearly every automobile and plane. They have other uses as well.

Parts of an Engine

Just like hearts, engines are also made up of several components. The main parts include the cylinder block, cylinder head, piston, connecting rod, crank shaft, camshaft, oil sump, spark plugs, valves, injectors, manifolds, pushrods, gaskets, piston rings, piston pins, and engine bearings. If this list sounds like a lot, it is. Engines are complex because they are both powerful and efficient. Without each of these parts working together and moving the right way, the whole system fails.

It would take some time to go into the details of what all of these separate parts do and how they all work together. Instead, let’s take a look at just one part of the engine that is often forgotten: fuel injectors.

Diesel Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors are used in diesel engines. Their function is to release fuel into the cylinder through the cylinder head in the form of a spray. Only a small amount of fuel is needed to create the combustion reaction, after all. Dodge Cummins injectors are well-made, popular types of fuel injectors used by consumers for their engines. Diesel injectors like Dodge Cummins injectors vary depending on the displacement of the engine. Displacement is a measurement of the volume of the cylinders inside an engine, typically in units of Liters. So, the larger the engine, the larger the size of Dodge Cummins injectors (in this instance).

Fuel injectors open or close their valves via electric signal. The length of time the valve is open or closed determines how much fuel is injected into the cylinder. For the best performance, fuel injectors should be cleaned whenever a dip in performance is noticeable. Over time gasoline left behind can gunk up, clog, and rust the injector.

Diesel fuel injectors are just one small but important piece of the engine puzzle. Every part works in concert together to make the whole thing work. You can thank all these parts for allowing your car to get you from point A to point B every day.

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Are Diesel Engines More Energy Efficient?

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You may be driving a vehicle with a diesel engine for a number of reasons, such as their reliability, perceived ease of maintenance, or even simple nostalgia. There is another reason why these automobiles remain popular: they are between 20% and 40% more energy efficient than a similar gasoline run vehicle. It is worth investigating diesel fuel injectors, as there are some common pitfalls to avoid when fixing a diesel vehicle.

First, determine what type of engine is under your car’s hood. For example, say you have a Cummins engine. Cummins injectors that are cracked can be diagnosed with relative ease. Simply check for a wisp of smoke from the Cummins fuel injector while the car idles. If you see a wisp, the diesel fuel injectors are externally cracked.

Diesel fuel injectors can be sidelined by two types of deposit buildup: external and internal. Excessive buildup can actually cause the fuel injection system to fail. The buildup happens when the engine does not burn off all of the fuel during the process of combustion.

Gasoline is actually about 20% to 30% less energy rich than diesel fuel. Because of this, diesel fuel injectors are more likely to have a problem with excessive internal buildup. Keeping an eye on the injectors may pay off in the long run.

There are a few indicators that your diesel fuel injectors are experiencing excessive buildup if you tested for external cracks already. These may be a reduction in the vehicle’s normal fuel economy; a rougher than normal idle; a lessening of power during acceleration; or smoke coming from under the hood. These signs in particular are caused because the buildup gets to such a state that the airflow throughout the engine is effected. A reduced or interrupted air flow can mess with optimal combustion.

A diesel vehicle is surprisingly a good choice if you want good fuel economy and care about driving a “green” vehicle. But those benefits are only true when that vehicle is in tip-top condition. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye on these warning signs. If you do, your diesel engine should serve you well for the long haul.