EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 10, 2013

Don't blame fuel injectors for rough-running truck

When I first start my 1996 5.0 GMC engine in the morning, it runs very rough. If I hold the accelerator down for about 30 seconds the engine will smooth out, then start and run great the rest of the day. The truck has 44,000 miles on it, and I have run a pint of Techron through the engine about every 4,000 to 5,000 miles since the truck was new. I have replaced the spark plugs, rotor and distributor cap and cleaned the throttle body. The service advisor at the dealership says the only thing that will cure it is a new set of injectors for $860. What do you think?

I can appreciate the service advisor’s hunch regarding the fuel injectors, as GMC/Chevy pickups and SUVs of this vintage employed a somewhat problematic system known as central sequential fuel injection. But, because you’ve proactively babied the fuel system with Techron fuel additive and the engine runs great when warm, I think there are other culprits to be checked that have a higher probability of resulting in a fix.

In a follow-up message, I asked you to differentiate between “rough” and “slow” running when cold, and you nailed the solution path by telling me the engine runs far too slowly when cold-started and if helped with any throttle, smooths right out. This points straight at the idle air control, or IAC, system as being the cause of this symptom. Fuel-injected engines with traditional cable type throttles, now replaced with electronic throttle controls, employ an IAC device to allow air to bypass the throttle during fast idle periods and in compensation for accessory loads.

IACs vary in method from simple electrically pulsed solenoids to your more sophisticated stepper motor type. On General Motors vehicles, rather complex electrical signals are sent from the electronic control module, or ECM, through four wires to the IAC, which rotates its internal pintle to any of 256 possible positions. My hunch is your IAC is dirty or sticky and doesn’t move well when cold, or a faulty electrical connection may be preventing movement of any kind.

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