Chevrolet Sonic Repair Manual: Fuel System Description
Fuel System Overview
The fuel system is an electronic returnless on-demand design. A returnless fuel system reduces the internal temperature of the fuel tank by not returning hot fuel from the engine to the fuel tank. Reducing the internal temperature of the fuel tank results in lower evaporative emissions.
The fuel tank stores the fuel supply. An electric turbine style fuel pump attaches to the fuel tank fuel pump module inside the fuel tank. The fuel pump supplies fuel through the fuel feed pipe to the fuel injection system. The fuel tank fuel pump module contains a reverse flow check valve. The check valve maintains fuel pressure in the fuel feed pipe and the fuel rail in order to prevent long cranking times.Electronic Returnless Fuel System
The electronic returnless fuel system is a microprocessor controlled fuel delivery system which transports fuel from the tank to the fuel rail. It functions as an electronic replacement for a traditional, mechanical fuel pressure regulator. A pressure relief regulator valve within the fuel tank provides an added measure of over pressure protection. Desired fuel pressure is commanded by the engine control module (ECM), and transmitted to the fuel pump flow control module via a GMLAN serial data message. A liquid fuel pressure sensor provides the feedback the fuel pump flow control module requires for Closed Loop fuel pressure control.Fuel Pump Flow Control Module
The fuel pump flow control module is a serviceable GMLAN module. The fuel pump flow control module receives the desired fuel pressure message from the engine control module (ECM) and controls the fuel pump located within the fuel tank to achieve the desired fuel pressure. The fuel pump flow control module sends a 25 kHz PWM signal to the fuel pump, and pump speed is changed by varying the duty cycle of this signal. Maximum current supplied to the fuel pump is 15 A. A liquid fuel pressure sensor provides fuel pressure feedback to the fuel pump flow control module.Fuel Pressure Sensor
The fuel pressure sensor is a serviceable 5 V, 3-pin device. It is located on the fuel feed line forward of the fuel tank, and receives power and ground from the fuel pump flow control module through a vehicle wiring harness. The sensor provides a fuel pressure signal to the fuel pump flow control module, which is used to provide Closed Loop fuel pressure control.Flex Fuel Sensor (If Equipped)
The flex fuel sensor measures the ethanol-gasoline ratio of the fuel being used in a flexible fuel vehicle. Flexible fuel vehicles can be operated with a blend of ethanol and gasoline, up to 85 percent ethanol. In order to adjust the ignition timing and the fuel quantity to be injected, the engine management system requires information about the percentage of ethanol in the fuel.
The flex fuel sensor uses quick-connect style fuel connections, an incoming fuel connection, and an outgoing fuel connection. All fuel passes through the flex fuel sensor before continuing on to the fuel rail. The flex fuel sensor measures the fuel alcohol content, and sends an electrical signal to the engine control module (ECM) to indicate ethanol percentage.
The flex fuel sensor has a three-wire electrical harness connector. The three wires provide a ground circuit, a power source, and a signal output to the ECM. The power source is battery positive voltage and the ground circuit connects to an engine ground. The signal circuit carries the ethanol percentage via a frequency signal.
The flex fuel sensor uses a microprocessor inside the sensor to measure the ethanol percentage and changes the output signal accordingly. The ECM provides an internal pull-up to 5 V on the signal circuit, and the flex fuel sensor pulls the 5 V to ground in pulses. The normal range of operating frequency is between 50 and 150 Hz, with 50 Hz representing 0 percent ethanol, and 150 Hz representing 100 percent ethanol.
The microprocessor inside the sensor is capable of a certain amount of self-diagnosis. An output frequency between 180 Hz and 190 Hz indicates that the fuel is contaminated. Certain substances dissolved in the fuel can cause the fuel to be contaminated, raising the output frequency higher than the actual ethanol percentage should indicate. Examples of these substances include water, sodium chloride (salt), and methanol.
It should be noted that it is likely that the flex fuel sensor will indicate a slightly lower ethanol percentage than what is advertised at the fueling station. This is not a fault of the sensor. The reason has to do with government requirements for alcohol-based motor fuels. Government regulations require that alcohol intended for use as motor fuel be denatured. This means that 100 percent pure ethanol is first denatured with approximately 4½ percent gasoline, before being mixed with anything else. When an ethanol gasoline mixture is advertised as E85, the 85 percent ethanol was denatured before being blended with gasoline, meaning an advertised E85 fuel contains only about 81 percent ethanol. The flex fuel sensor measures the actual percentage of ethanol in the fuel.Fuel Tank
The fuel tank stores the fuel supply. The fuel tank is located in the rear of the vehicle. The fuel tank is held in place by 2 metal straps that are attached to the underbody. The fuel tank is molded from high-density polyethylene.Fuel Filler Cap
The fuel fill pipe has a tethered fuel filler cap. A torque-limiting device prevents the cap from being overtightened. To install the cap, turn the cap clockwise until the cap clicks audibly. This indicates that the cap is correctly torqued and fully seated.Fuel Tank Fuel Pump Module
The fuel tank fuel pump module consists of the following components:
- The fuel level sensor
- The fuel pump
- The fuel strainer
- The fuel filter
- The pressure relief regulator valve
- The jet pump
The fuel level sensor consists of a float, a wire float arm, and a ceramic resistor card. The position of the float arm indicates the fuel level. The fuel level sensor contains a variable resistor which changes resistance in correspondence with the position of the float arm. The ECM sends the fuel level signal via a High Speed CAN-Bus signal to the body control module (BCM). The BCM then sends the information via a Low Speed CAN-Bus signal to the instrument cluster to display the fuel level. When the fuel level falls below 11% the instrument cluster illuminates the low fuel level indicator. The ECM also monitors the fuel level input for various diagnostics.Fuel Pump
The fuel pump is mounted in the fuel tank fuel pump module reservoir. The fuel pump is an electric pump. Fuel is pumped to the fuel injection system at a pressure that is based on feedback from the fuel pressure sensor. The fuel pump delivers a constant flow of fuel even during low fuel conditions and aggressive vehicle maneuvers. The fuel pump flex pipe acts to dampen the fuel pulses and noise generated by the fuel pump.Fuel Strainer
The fuel strainer is attached to the lower end of the fuel tank fuel pump module. The fuel strainer is made of woven plastic. The functions of the fuel strainer are to filter contaminants and to wick away fuel. Normally, the fuel strainer does not require maintenance. Fuel stoppage at this point indicates that the fuel tank contains an abnormal amount of sediment or contamination.Jet Pump
The jet pump is located in the fuel tank fuel pump module. Fuel pump flow loss, caused by vapor expulsion in the pump inlet chamber, is diverted to the jet pump through a restrictive orifice located on the pump cover. The jet pump fills the reservoir of the fuel tank fuel pump module.Pressure Relief Regulator Valve
The pressure relief regulator valve replaces the typical fuel pressure regulator used on a mechanical returnless fuel system. The pressure relief regulator valve is closed during normal vehicle operation. The pressure relief regulator valve is used to vent pressure during hot soaks and also functions as a fuel pressure regulator in the event of the fuel pump flow control module defaulting to 100% pulse width modulation (PWM) of the fuel pump. Due to variation in the fuel system pressures, the opening pressure for the pressure relief regulator valve is set higher than the pressure that is used on a mechanical returnless fuel system pressure regulator.Nylon Fuel Pipes
Refer to Fuel and Evaporative Emission Pipe Warning.
Nylon pipes are constructed to withstand maximum fuel system pressure, exposure to fuel additives, and changes in temperature.
Heat resistant rubber hose or corrugated plastic conduit protect the sections of the pipes that are exposed to chafing, high temperature, or vibration.
Nylon fuel pipes are somewhat flexible and can be shaped around gradual turns under the vehicle. However, if nylon fuel pipes are forced into sharp bends, the pipes may kink and restrict the flow of fuel. Also, once exposed to fuel, nylon pipes may become stiffer and are more likely to kink if bent too far. Exercise special care when working on a vehicle with nylon fuel pipes.Quick-Connect Fittings
Nylon fuel pipes are somewhat flexible and can be shaped around gradual turns under the vehicle. However, if nylon fuel pipes are forced into sharp bends, the pipes may kink and restrict the flow of fuel. Also, once exposed to fuel, nylon pipes may become stiffer and are more likely to kink if bent too far. Exercise special care when working on a vehicle with nylon fuel pipes.Fuel Pulse Dampener
The fuel pulse dampener is a part of the front fuel feed pipe. The fuel pulse dampener is diaphragm-operated with fuel pump pressure on one side and with spring pressure on the other side. The function of the dampener is to dampen the fuel pump pressure pulsations.Fuel Rail Assembly
The fuel rail assembly is attached to the engine intake manifold. The fuel rail assembly performs the following functions:
- Positions the injectors in the intake manifold
- Distributes fuel evenly to the injectors
The fuel injector assembly is a solenoid device controlled by the ECM that meters pressurized fuel to a single engine cylinder. The ECM energizes the high-impedance, 12 Ω, injector solenoid to open a ball valve, normally closed. This allows fuel to flow into the top of the injector, past the ball valve, and through a director plate at the injector outlet. The director plate has machined holes that control the flow of fuel, generating a spray of finely atomized fuel at the injector tip. Fuel from the injector tip is directed at the intake valve, causing the fuel to become further atomized and vaporized before entering the combustion chamber. This fine atomization improves fuel economy and emissions.Fuel Metering Modes of Operation
The ECM monitors voltages from several sensors in order to determine how much fuel to feed to the engine. The ECM controls the amount of fuel delivered to the engine by changing the fuel injector pulse width. The fuel is delivered under one of several modes.Starting Mode
The ECM supplies voltage to the fuel pump control module when the ECM detects that the ignition is ON. The voltage from the ECM to the fuel pump control module remains active for 2 s, unless the engine is in Crank or Run. While this voltage is being received, the fuel pump control module closes the ground switch of the fuel tank fuel pump module and also supplies a varying voltage to the fuel tank fuel pump module in order to maintain the desired fuel line pressure. The ECM calculates the air/fuel ratio based on inputs from the engine coolant temperature (ECT), manifold absolute pressure (MAP), mass air flow (MAF), and throttle position sensors. The system stays in starting mode until the engine speed reaches a predetermined RPM.Clear Flood Mode
If the engine is flooded with fuel during starting and will not start, the clear flood mode can be manually enabled. To enable Clear Flood Mode, press the accelerator to wide open throttle (WOT). The ECM will completely turn OFF the fuel injectors and will maintain this mode as long as the ECM detects a WOT condition with engine speed below a predetermined value.Run Mode
The run mode has 2 conditions called Open Loop and Closed Loop. When the engine is first started and the engine speed is above a predetermined RPM, the system begins Open Loop operation. The ECM ignores the signal from the heated oxygen sensor (HO2S). The ECM calculates the air/fuel ratio based on inputs from the engine coolant temperature (ECT), manifold absolute pressure (MAP), mass air flow (MAF), and throttle position sensors. The system stays in Open Loop until meeting the following conditions:
- The HO2S has varying voltage output, showing that the HO2S is hot enough to operate properly.
- The ECT sensor is above a specified temperature.
- A specific amount of time has elapsed after starting the engine.
Specific values for the above conditions exist for each different engine, and are stored in the electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM). The system begins Closed Loop operation after reaching these values. In Closed Loop, the ECM calculates the air/fuel ratio, injector ON time, based upon the signal from various sensors, but mainly from the HO2S. This allows the air/fuel ratio to stay very close to 14.7:1.Acceleration Mode
When the driver pushes on the accelerator pedal, air flow into the cylinders increases rapidly. To prevent possible hesitation, the ECM increases the pulse width to the injectors to provide extra fuel during acceleration. This is also known as power enrichment. The ECM determines the amount of fuel required based upon throttle position, engine coolant temperature (ECT), manifold absolute pressure (MAP), mass air flow (MAF), and engine speed.Deceleration Mode
When the driver releases the accelerator pedal, air flow into the engine is reduced. The ECM monitors the corresponding changes in throttle position, mass air flow (MAF), and manifold absolute pressure (MAP). The ECM shuts OFF fuel completely if the deceleration is very rapid, or for long periods, such as long, closed-throttle coast-down. The fuel shuts OFF in order to prevent damage to the catalytic converters.Battery Voltage Correction Mode
When the battery voltage is low, the ECM compensates for the weak spark delivered by the ignition system in the following ways:
- Increasing the amount of fuel delivered
- Increasing the idle RPM
- Increasing the ignition dwell time
The ECM cuts OFF fuel from the fuel injectors when the following conditions are met in order to protect the powertrain from damage and improve driveability:
- The ignition is OFF. This prevents engine run-on.
- The ignition is ON but there is no ignition reference signal. This prevents flooding or backfiring.
- The engine speed is too high, above red line.
- The vehicle speed is too high, above rated tire speed.
- During an extended, high speed, closed throttle coast down—This reduces emissions and increases engine braking.
- During extended deceleration, in order to prevent damage to the catalytic converters
The ECM controls the air/fuel metering system in order to provide the best possible combination of driveability, fuel economy, and emission control. The ECM monitors the heated oxygen sensor (HO2S) signal voltage while in Closed Loop and regulates the fuel delivery by adjusting the pulse width of the injectors based on this signal. The ideal fuel trim values are around 0 percent for both short and long term fuel trim. A positive fuel trim value indicates the ECM is adding fuel in order to compensate for a lean condition by increasing the pulse width. A negative fuel trim value indicates that the ECM is reducing the amount of fuel in order to compensate for a rich condition by decreasing the pulse width. A change made to the fuel delivery changes the long and short term fuel trim values. The short term fuel trim values change rapidly in response to the HO2S signal voltage. These changes fine tune the engine fueling. The long term fuel trim makes coarse adjustments to fueling in order to re-center and restore control to short term fuel trim. A scan tool can be used to monitor the short and long term fuel trim values. The long term fuel trim diagnostic is based on an average of several of the long term speed load learn cells. The ECM selects the cells based on the engine speed and engine load. If the ECM detects an excessively lean or rich condition, the ECM will set a fuel trim diagnostic trouble code (DTC).