Looking for advice on a proposed fuel injector repair.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

My '89 Acura Legend with 83,000 miles has been starting with great difficulty
when the engine is cold. It purrs once, then dies. My mechanic says I have two
leaky fuel injectors (small leaks). Because each of the leaky injectors is in a
bank of three, I need to replace both banks in order to replace the leaky
injectors, to the tune of $1,000. He said repairing just the bad injector might
cause the O-ring seal to break, and that would create greater expense. The car
has a pronounced gasoline smell lately. My mechanic said until I fix it, I
should turn the key for 20 seconds before starting the car to allow the fuel
pressure to build up. What do you advise? -- Anne

TOM: Geez, this is a tough call, Anne. What's happening is that a couple of your
injectors are "leaking down" and not holding their fuel pressure when you shut
off the car. So when you come back to start it the next time, there's not enough
fuel at the injectors to keep the engine running.

RAY: I don't agree with your mechanic about the O-ring stuff. But regardless,
since these injectors are so hard to get at, he does have two good reasons for
doing all of the injectors at once: 1) He doesn't want to have a couple more
injectors fail a few months from now and see you have to pay for the labor
again, and 2) He doesn't want to accidentally replace the wrong injectors and
have to do the labor again himself -- for free!

TOM: So if you plan to keep this car a while longer (and with only 83,000 miles,
it certainly should last a while), you should probably bite the bullet and
replace all of the injectors. It costs a lot, but that's the price of owning an
expensive car; it's not just expensive to buy, it's expensive to fix, too.

RAY: In the meantime, your mechanic's advice for building up fuel pressure
should help. Although in most cars, holding the key on for 20 seconds is
overkill. The fuel pump usually shuts itself off after four or five seconds if
the car doesn't start. So rather than burn out your battery and starter, I'd try
cranking it for just a couple of seconds -- but do that several times -- before
starting the car.

TOM: That should keep you going until you either fix it or swap it straight up
for a Ford Escort. Good luck, Anne.

* * *

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