To Hell With EFI...Long Live The Carb!

Holly Truck Avenger 470 carburetor

Look, I get it. EFI (electronic fuel injection) is fabulous. It solves world hunger. It adapts to altitude. It will deliver you beer when you're empty. One thing it won't do? Save you time or money.

Simply put, EFI is only good when brand new. In real life, where you put actual miles on it, the condition of the sensors and wiring degrade over time. Once that occurs, the signal transmitted is not exactly correct. Once that happens, the engine doesn't run mathematically perfect anymore. Thereby removing literally the only real benefit of EFI.

When you’ve reached this point, which happens relatively quickly in a car’s lifetime (2-3 years), you're now out of the honeymoon new car phase and into in the real world pattern of repair cycles. Once you've entered the repair realm, you get to endure the costly reality that is EFI.

EFI Repair Costs

EFI repair costs aren’t hidden behind a “convenient” monthly payment. Oh, the fuel pump went out in your retardo German shitbox? $900. Yeah, $900. Idiocy. Oh, you say you bought an American shitbox instead, it won't be as bad? Wrong, you moron. Price out a fuel pump repair on a new Silverado. Guess what? It's more. Add in the fact that you now have no less than five sensors where any one of them can cause the entire vehicle to cease functioning, and to repair each one is at least $200. On top of the “Fab 5” sensors I just mentioned, you have no less than another 6-7 where the degradation of such removes any reasonable part-throttle efficiency gain you may have over a decent carb setup.

Wear & Tear On The Engine

Oh Al… carbs are harder on the engine and they don't last as long.

Good noodle-head, it seems you're at least awake. That is true: EFI generally wears out the cylinder walls less than carbs, especially on a cold start.

That being said, ironically, the entire motor is actually one of the cheaper repair items in a vehicle, especially an older, simpler, high-volume vehicle.

Take this example. EFI Dodge Ram of the 90s vintage. Motor popped a head gasket at 200k. Repair job would be a few hundred bucks, but why bother? The engine had 200k on it already and I can get a nice 100k mile motor for $200. $400 rip and replace for a direct swap later and replacing an entire engine for less than a new truck’s fuel pump. Repairing older vehicles allows greater choice in service provider. Greater choice will lead to better service and lower prices. Not being locked into the dealer for all service requests will save you a bucket of cash.

Ok Al, you've been rambling. What the hell is you're real point?

My point is, dollar for dollar, mile for mile, a carb will last longer, age better, and cost you less over time than EFI.

A carb will last longer, age better, and cost you less over time than EFI.

Should I Just Get A New Car When My Current Car Gets Out Of Warranty?

But Al, I know nothing about anything even remotely useful! I have a gender studies major, work at the coffee house for $.06 a decade, and have $80k in college debt. How does this make sense for me? Shouldn't I just go get a car loan for $40k more in debt and have people smarter than me fix that under warranty?

No, you moron. Car guys hate new cars in general. Just look at the smartest car guys you know.

Look at your local mechanic. What kinda car does he drive? It's usually old and easy to fix. Why? Because he, yes HE, knows what the hell he's doing. He knows older cars cost less to own, cuz they have less that can fail, which means he has to spend less time fiddling with it. Even when he does have to fiddle with it, it's a faster fix cuz it's less complex. Less time fiddling is less time not getting paid to fix other things for customers.

If car guys think this, why shouldn't you? They don't wanna fix their own crap. Why would they? They can get paid doing the same thing instead. Time is money, same for you. The easier your car is to fix, the fewer things that can go wrong, the less time will be spent fixing it. Pull your college brain out of your behind, and do some basic math.

…But I Already Have A New Car

But Al, my -insert money pit new car here- is already EFI and I've spent -insert obnoxious amount of money here- in maintaining and fixing it, depreciation, interest, and higher insurance prices. Shouldn't I just ride it out?

No. You should either get a vehicle that is carbureted or convert your crap pile to carb.

Here's an example of a guy that did a TBI to carb swap on a Dodge:

But how? That is another blog...and I need a beer.


EFI is great, in theory, and maybe for people who have more money and brains than time, which is like no one except Steve Jobs, and he's dead. All the rest of us in the real world have limited resources.

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