Aug 8, 2023
Posted by Brett Blackburn, Product Manager, Fuels
By now, most in the industry are aware that gasoline-direct-injection (GDI) engines have overtaken port-fueled-injection (PFI) technology as the dominant engine platform in passenger cars. In fact, GDI technology, touted for its benefits of better fuel economy, fewer emissions, and improved performance, will likely be deployed in most new gasoline and hybrid vehicles across the globe within the next couple of years.
However, there’s a gap that still needs to be addressed: Consumers need support to better recognize the challenges associated with this technology.
WATCH: Product Manager Brett Blackburn talks about the maintenance needs of GDI engines.
GDI Benefits and Challenges
GDI engines are designed to inject fuel directly into the combustion chamber, rather than through the air intake. This allows for a more precise and efficient fuel delivery system, resulting in improved fuel economy and lower emissions. GDI engines also produce more power than their port-fueled-injection (PFI) counterparts, making them an attractive option for auto manufacturers and consumers alike.
Despite those benefits, GDI engines do come with challenges. Running at higher pressures and temperatures with tighter tolerances, GDI engines are more susceptible to carbon buildup, increased wear and other issues that can affect performance and longevity. And these challenges are not always readily apparent to the consumer.
- Carbon Buildup: Excessive carbon buildup, which can happen relatively quickly (within a vehicle’s first 20,000 miles), may cause the check engine light to come on, low speed pre-ignition misfires, rough idling, and decreased fuel economy, all of which can negatively impact the driving experience. Worse still, it could lead to increased emissions output.
- Excessive Wear: Additionally, contaminants specific to GDI/TGDI engines can interfere with a lubricant, reducing its effectiveness and protective capabilities. Without proper protection, GDI engines that experience excessive wear are prone to problems including oil dilution, pump failures, timing chain issues and more.
The fuel industry, particularly the aftermarket space, could benefit from more aggressive and targeted communication about GDI engine maintenance needs. Ideas to consider:
- Re-evaluate promotional placement: Get consumers thinking about GDI maintenance when they’re in the right place (i.e., find ways to reach them when they’re driving or at the pump rather than when they’re at the ballgame or watching TV).
- Simplify message presentation: Think infographics instead of brochures and images instead of product sell sheets.
- Normalize it: Consumers know they need to change their oil and rotate their tires. They don’t necessarily know that their GDI engines need periodic clean-ups to keep them running smoothly. Normalize this idea in your messaging.