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Why don’t we use carburettors anymore?
Updated 27 Aug 2019
30 years ago, almost every vehicle produced was fitted with a carburettor to supply fuel to the engine.
However, with advances in technology, both mechanical and electrical, the carburettor has gone the way of the dinosaur (there’s a fossil fuel joke in here somewhere).
Unless you’re building an authentic hot rod, fuel injection seems to be the way to go.
The first reason is fuel economy.
As fuel pricing continues to increase, more and more people are buying cars based on their fuel economy.
The carburettor was very basic in the way that it metered the fuel and air mixture entering the engine, and it wasn’t that great for fuel economy.
Fuel injection, on the other hand, precisely monitors all aspects of the engine and driving conditions, and optimises the fuel and air mixture to suit those conditions, leading to much better fuel economy.
The next reason is drivability. With older cars, there was always a ritual to getting it started first thing in the morning, especially when it was cold outside.
‘Pump the pedal three times, pull the choke out halfway’, were some of the phrases burned into your brain, and not following these exact steps left you cranking the engine over in the hopes it would eventually start.
With modern fuel injection those issues are a thing of the past. Simply turn the key and the computer takes care of the rest, getting you out on the road in no time.
The main reason, and I’m sure any avid readers would be aware of this, is harmful emissions.
With a carburettor, there is no way to actively control emissions apart from altering jet sizing and adjusting timing.
One of the trademarks of a carburetted car is the smell of unburned fuel coming out of the exhaust.
There are no catalytic converters on carburetted cars, so all the harmful gasses go straight out into the atmosphere.
With fuel injected vehicles, the amount of air and fuel mixture entering the engine is precisely metered and the catalytic converter turns the harmful exhaust emissions into less harmful gases.
As the technology continues to improve, more stringent emissions targets are being placed on manufacturers to ensure their vehicles are running as ‘cleanly’ as possible to limit the harm they are doing to the planet.
The removal of carburettors from vehicles and the introduction of modern fuel injection has been one of the biggest steps forward in reducing emissions and now, with hybrid and electric technology, how long will it be until fuel injection goes the same way?
Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.
Joel is now the Workshop Manager at Robina Volkswagen.