CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Fuel injector replacement

I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla with about 151 thousand miles. In the last few months, I noticed it has become more and more sluggish, especially on the freeway. I recently had a major service done at a Toyota dealership and I was told that one of the fuel injectors is damaged. They recommended to have all four injectors changed, instead of just the damaged one - so that I could save on the labor cost when the other injectors fail some time in the future.



Is that reasonable? What is the normal life expectancy of a fuel injector?

It’s really up to you. I would pop for all 4 but that’s just me. All mechanical components are basically like light bulbs…they will work one minute and the next they don’t. Life expectancy is, at best, a guess.

It depends on cost, how much are parts vs. labor? How much total $ for 1 vs. 4? I would think the parts are a lot of the total, so just doing one would seem to make more sense.

It’s about 150 per injector, plus about 200 for labor. So, I am looking at about 350 to change one, or 800 to change all 4. Of course, if i change only one, and then others fail, I will have to pay for labor again…

I neeed a better description of the failure with the injector. Sluggish performance can come from other more likely failures than a “poor performing injector”. Any “check engine” light?

Do the injectors really look so hard to replace? What is the labor alone on injector replacement? We did advise people with mid-90’s Corvettes to replace all at the same time but that was also influenced by how hard it was to make the call that a functioning injector was really “bad” and they were very hard too replace.

Your prices just came through. Get another opinion on the entire situation. I mean inital diagnosis, labor price, part price. I have seen it before when the injector replacement was used as a diagnostic tool and when it did not work other items were then called “bad”.

Yes, I have the “engine check” light that’s on, but only once in a while - most of the time, it’s off. The repair guy at the dealership said it’s because of the faulty injector. They tried to clean it up, but it’s still working at about 50% of normal performance (according to him). They also checked the fuel pump (no problem here), changed the fuel filter, and changed the spark plugs. He said the car would run better, but not at 100% because of that injector. That’s pretty much what I have observed - it’s better than it was before, but not entirely satisfactory. I have no doubt that this faulty injector must be replaced, but I wonder if I should go ahead and change all of them for the same price on labor - but an extra 450 on part…

If you are satisfied with the diagnosis, price, results, be they what ever they may be, go with all four, why not? you say no one’s feet will be held to the fire if things are not 100% and money is not an issue, Decision is an easy one to make. I wish all customer let me use this method to at least eliminate the injectors as being a possible cause.

Most customers say, "If I let you replacce all four injectors do you guarantee that that will sove my problem 100%, NO EXTRA CHARGES?

Can I ask how you became so confident that the 1 injector is definetly bad? do you have the background to tell if what the mechanic is telling you is reality? they can get pretty good at selling work when even they are not sure it will solve the problem

I humbly admit that I have no background in car mechanics… that’s why I need help from some experts. I don’t know how confident I can be with what they tell me… I am told that they cleaned all 4 injectors, but one of them is still not working as it should. Since the fuel pump, fuel filter, and spark plugs are good, I don’t know what else it could be… any idea?

I agree that the real question is “if they replace the injectors, will it fix the problem?”

Money is an issue, which is why I hesitate to spend 800 to replace 4 injectors, while 350 to replace one might do the job.

I appreciate your input.

No one accurately knows what the “normal” life expectancy of a (one, or three) specific fuel injector is. You’ve been given guesses. The other three fuel injectors could last the life of the car.
Advance Auto Parts has re-manufactured fuel injectors for your car for $67. Auto Zone has them for $200 (new). A garage will add 50% to these prices on the repair bill. This is normal.
An independent repair shop is just as effective (maybe, more so) as the dealership; but, much cheaper. Change One (1) fuel injector, and save.

How do they determine the injector is working at 50%? That’s an odd one unless the injector was out of the car and in a test machine; which is unlikely.
And if it’s claimed to be damaged, then just HOW is it damaged?

I would suggest that before you shell out bucks for this repair that you have the car scanned at AutoZone, Checkers, or some similar parts house and get any codes that may exist.
They will perform this service for you free and it only takes a few minutes. Post any results back for discussion.

As to how long injectors last, that varies. Speaking for all of my cars and my family members cars which have seen many hundreds of thousands of miles (several million actually), none of us have ever had an injector failure on anything. Not even a leak.

It came to me to add (not only for the OP’s benifit but our other readers also). If your car has a “driveability concern” (this is mechanic speak for what is happening to the OP’s car) and it is slightly aged (1995 certainly qualifies)not too take it too the Dealer for repair. It most certainly will cost more as the Dealer applies “Dealership rules” to fix you driveability concern.

For the OP, if you do decide to take your car to an independant mechanic just tell him the symptons, not what has happened at the Dealer about injector diagnosis. Sure tell him about all parts they replaced but just sat “the Dealer is stumped” it would not be fair to the new mechanic not to mention at all that it has been at the dealer for a driveability concern.

Too echo 4450, giving a "bad’ fuel injector diagnosis happened after working on the car with poor results for quite awhile.

Now don’t let all this info set you back, take a breath, think sensibly, your car just has a little cold, your need to take your time and get a different mechanic and I do know how this can be a big deal for people.