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Fuel Injection Isn’t Going Away So You Might as Well Learn It

The Gearhead Grind: If you can't beat 'em join 'em!

Evan Perkins Mar 4, 2016
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I’ll admit there was a time when I thought I’d never need to learn fuel injection. I envisioned every hot rod, muscle car, or project car I’d ever own with a Holley carb perched proudly on the intake manifold. But, if I’m going to one day be the cool car dad who passes on a legacy of wrenching to his kids, I’m going to have to wrap my head around all this newfangled technology.

The first step in that direction was to attend a fuel-injection training course at Westech Performance that was put on by the good guys at FAST (Fuel Air Spark Technology). The class was lead by FAST’s David Page, who not only had a few profound thoughts about fuel injection, but also did a fantastic job of disseminating the modern technical vernacular and electronic wizardry to a room full of old-school carb guys. I can honestly say that after two days of classroom presentations and watching David work his magic on the engine dyno, I walked away with a much more in-depth understanding of how electronic injection works on a fundamental level and the benefits it can add to classic car ownership and racing alike.

One of the most interesting takeaways from the presentation was that all of the knowledge amassed from years of tuning carbs isn’t lost upon moving to fuel injection. In fact, the vast majority of it transfers directly over. The numbers on a fuel table are in many ways just carburetor jet sizes, determined by engine load and rpm. And, tuning a carburetor’s accelerator pump transitions directly into tuning acceleration enrichment tables. Oh, and spark timing is still … well, it’s still just spark timing—only there is far less chance of getting shocked from a faulty plug wire when you’re nestled safely behind a keyboard. I’ve come to understand that fuel injection is just a modern twist on something most of us hot rodders already understand, and that at the end of the day whatever is underneath that guise of digital control, is the same engine we’ve been wrenching on for years.

There’s nothing wrong with carburetors and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They have a well-deserved place in restorations, racing, and especially street cars. But don’t think for one second you aren’t capable of learning how fuel injection works.

In David’s words, “You can either be scared of fuel injection or you can educate yourself on how it works.” I think I’ll stick with the latter.



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