Junkyard Treasures: Engine Management Basics
Even though we have a passion for tinkering with carburetors, we feel that electronic fuel injection (EFI) was a considerable achievement in the modernization of engine efficiency. Electronic fuel injection can increase a vehicle's performance, mileage, power, efficiency, and throttle response. In the 4x4 realm of things, EFI is a great addition to any powerplant because it allows the engine to run better at altitude and at extreme angles--even upside-down!
If you're looking around for a fuel-injection system because of an engine swap or just for a performance upgrade, then we'll warn you now--aftermarket fuel-injection systems can be expensive. Don't overlook the scrap yards when searching around for fuel-injection and engine-management systems. The savings may be worth it. Depending on the yard and your haggling skills, you could find a complete engine-management system for a few hundred bucks. Even better, you could find a complete engine with a fuel delivery system and all the wiring, ready to run.
This leads us to our second warning. Unless you're installing the engine and wiring system as one unit, sorting through the factory ECM and its wiring is very complicated. If you aren't experienced and mechanically inclined, and if you can't follow the intricate details of a factory manual and its tiny electrical diagrams, then this conversion isn't for you.
Getting past the complicated part of the conversion, there's another drawback--one that will require the use of all the related smog components for the factory ECM, which will run the engine efficiently and at peak performance levels. This is why it's best to find a complete donor vehicle with all the needed parts, rather than trying to hobble together a bunch of components. The benefits of a salvaged EFI system is the savings and that the factory systems are reliable. They also won't require continual monitoring or adjustment with a laptop.
The scrap-yard Chrysler 5.9L engine bolted in our Scratch Built Scrambler project already had most of the components like fuel rails, injectors, and smog-related parts. But it lacked the electronic control module (ECM) and wiring harnesses, so we called Jason Hulbert, owner of Maxed Out Off-Road in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Hulbert's family also owns a six-acre salvage yard filled with everything a 4x4 enthusiast dreams about. He sent us an ECM, an engine wiring harness, and everything we needed to get our project up and running.