Electronic Fuel Injection

The Otto engine needs a mixture of fuel and air for its operation. It would be the task of the fuel supply—carburetor or injection—to provide the engine with the ideal mixture. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an ideal mixture.

Perfect combustion, as chemistry calls it, would require air and fuel in proportion of 14.7 parts to 1 (this is the so-called stoechiometric ratio). While this might be satisfactory for the scientists, the real-life conditions of a vehicle call for slightly different characteristics.

We use the ratio of actual mixture to the stoechiometric mixture, called lambda (λ), to describe the composition of the mixture entering the engine: λ=1 denotes the chemically ideal mixture, λ<1 means rich, λ>1 is lean.

The best performance would require a slightly rich mixture, with the lambda around 0.9, while fuel economy would call for a slightly lean one, between 1.1 and 1.3. Some harmful components in the exhaust gas would reduce in quantity between lambda values of 1 to 1.2, others below 0.8 or above 1.4. And if this is not yet enough, a cold engine requires a very rich mixture to keep running. After warming up, the mixture can return to normal, but the temperature of the incoming air still plays a significant role: the cooler the air, the denser it becomes, and this influences the lambda ratio as well.

All these requirements are impossible to satisfy with simpler mechanical devices like carburetors. Electronic fuel injection provides a system that can measure the many circumstances the engine is operating in and decide on the amount of fuel (in other words, the lambda ratio) entering the engine. By carefully adjusting the internal rules of this device, manufacturers can adapt the characteristics of the fuel injection to the actual requirements: a sporty GTi would demand rather different settings than a city car; besides, catalytic converters have their own demands that, as we will later see, upset the applecart quite vehemently.

Testing the EFI & EMS components

There are basically two electrical measurements used in testing the various components. Voltage tests should be carried out with the ECU connector connected (unless otherwise stated in the test description). The cleanest method is to use a Break Out Box (or BOB), which is an extension connector placed between the ECU connector and its plug, making the various terminals accessible for measurements. If no BOB is available, use backprobing: peel back the insulating boot from the plug and attach the probe to the relevant pin.

Fuel injection basics

Citroën used various systems of two manufacturers, Bosch and Magneti Marelli. All those systems operate on very similar principles so troubleshooting them involves more or less the same steps.

There are two basic categories: fuel injection (EFI) and engine management (EMS). EFI systems, as their name implies, are responsible for the injection of fuel only, the ignition sparks are created using traditional methods (a breakerless distributor). EMS systems, in contrast, govern both fuel injection and ignition themselves.