How Does a Carburetor Work?

The History of the Carburetor

Modern engines use an electronic fuel control system but that was not always the case. Prior to the 1980’s, most cars relied on a mechanical device called a carburetor. Nowadays, carburetors are still popular with street racers. Getting that perfect air-fuel blend is kind of like the Holy Grail for racers.

The Mercedes company can claim responsibility for the development of the carburetor. A carburetor regulates the air and fuel mixture in a gasoline engine so that the fuel burns properly. Since they were first developed in the late 1800s, the design and complexity have changed, but the essential workings are the same.

Air + Fuel + Spark = Go

Bendix-Technico (Stromberg) BXUV-3 Carburetor with Nomenclature - Overview - Scheinwerfermann on Wikipedia - EuroDrift

Bendix-Technico (Stromberg) BXUV-3 Carburetor with Nomenclature – Overview – Scheinwerfermann on Wikipedia – EuroDrift

The workings of a carburetor are not too tough to understand. Let’s examine the flow of air and fuel as they move through the device:

  1. As air flows through the car’s air intake, it passes through a filter. The cleaned air enters the top of the carburetor.
  2. When the car is first being started, a choke restricts the amount of air coming in so that there is a greater flow of fuel into the cylinders. In older cars, this choke was manual, but more modern cars have automatic chokes.
  3. The air is forced into a narrowed portion of a tube, called a venturi. The pressure drops and creates a vacuum.
  4. Fuel is drawn into the vacuum.
  5. A valve called a throttle, opens or closes, depending on whether you want the car to accelerate or decelerate. If the throttle opens, then more air and fuel are pumped into the cylinders. As the piston rises in the cylinder, the spark plug ignites the mixture.

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward. However, if too much fuel reaches the engine (running rich), or too little (running lean), then you won’t get maximum power.

Nowadays, most cars use electronically controlled fuel injection methods rather than carburetors. Companies such as Audi continue to tweak electronic fuel injection systems to optimize functionality in their automobiles. Regardless, carburetors were the original method of fuel injection worldwide.

How Carburetor Works – AuttoSource – YouTube

Note: The featured image is by Rich Niewiroski Jr. on Wikipedia.

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