How many times have your mechanic recommended you fuel injector cleaner? I bet this happens a lot and you might wonder if fuel system cleaners are ‘snake oil’. Does injector cleaner really work? Today we find try to find out.
What does Fuel Injector cleaner do?
Injector cleaners are basically solvents that help clean out the fuel pathways. These bottles of fuel system cleaners are poured into the fuel tank. They start working to clean the entire fuel system by dissolving the gum and other residue collected in the fuel lines. Even though fuel filter prevents debris from entering the fuel injection system, small particles and gummy residue often pass through. Know what are the symptoms of a bad fuel filter.
Fuel injector cleaners are combustible solvents, therefore they are burnt off in the engine while it’s running.
Three of the most common ingredients in the fuel injector cleaner are polyether amine, polyisobutylene, and polyisobutylene amine. Let’s understand why they are added.
Polyether Amine: Polyether amine is used for both petrol and diesel applications. It is said to reduce misfiring and knocking from the engine. It’s also effective in removing excess moisture from the fuel line. This chemical really helps when there is old gas in the fuel tank that’s just blocking the fuel line and not burning.
Polyisobutylene: Like the Polyether amine, the Polyisobutylene also has similar cleaning qualities. In fact, both on them are quite close in chemical composition. Most injecter cleaner companies label it as ‘PIB’ on their products.
Polyether amine (PEA): PEA is added to the injector cleaners so that it can dissolve solid deposits in the fuel lines. Solid deposits can clog up the fuel system and this reduced the drivability of the car. Reduced fuel delivery could also increase the chances of knocking. This is a much stronger chemical than the previous two, therefore adding too much of it can cause problems too.
Does Injector Cleaner really work?
While fuel injector cleaners have been in the market for decades, we couldn’t find any published study by a scientific research institute. However, it’s safe to say that the fuel system cleaner does actually work. But, only if used correctly.
If the deposit buildup is too much then sure, regular pour-in injector cleaner solvents won’t be effective. That’s because there are many laws and regulations that don’t allow companies to retail harsh chemicals openly.
In case of severe depositing and injector clogging, the injector cleaning machine is most effective. This requires injectors to be removed from the car and cleaned using pressurized cleaning chemical. This machine is used to clean severe clogging of injectors (video):
Problems solved by fuel injector cleaner?
Carbon collecting at the intake valves
Fuel companies say that they already add additives that prevent carbon buildup. But the truth is that carbon buildup is a real problem that requires using fuel injector cleaners.
The back of the intake valve can collect a layer of carbon. This can reduce the velocity of fuel mixture and also prevent the valve to seal properly.
Apart from this, there are other areas that are prone to carbon buildup as well. This includes piston head, intake manifold and cylinder head. Fuel injector cleaner is the best solution to clean this carbon deposit. You can expect to see a better running engine after using an injector cleaner.
However, excess carbon buildup on the valves can only be cleaned by opening up the engine. If you are having a hesitant engine, then it’s worth trying out a good injector cleaner.
Reduced acceleration and fuel efficiency
The modern fuel injectors run on close tolerances through which pressurized fuel is pushed. For proper functioning, the injectors need to deliver an atomized mist of fuel when asked for. The clogging of the fine channels inside the injectors can disrupt its functioning.
When the spray pattern and pressure is not what is required, the car might start running rough. This also reduced fuel efficiency as the fuel droplets in the mist is not properly atomized. Fuel injector cleaner works well to solve this issue.
How to Use Fuel Injector Cleaner in the gas tank
There are so many fuel injectors in the market today that it’s always recommended to read the directions first. If the concentration of fuel injector is too high for the amount of gas, then it might cause some damage.
Step 1) Pick a Fuel Injector Cleaner of your choice. There is an end number of fuel injector cleaners in the market. Go with a trusted brand at it should work out well for you. Our favorite ones are mentioned here.
Generally, a full bottle of the fuel injector is good for about 50-liter (13 gallons) of fuel. Your car’s fuel tank capacity can range between 35 to 70 liters (9.2 gallons to 20 gallons). Note the tank capacity of your vehicle from the owner’s manual.
Step 2) So how should you use it? It’s best to use fuel injector cleaner right before topping up your fuel tank. On your next visit to the gas station, pour out a bottle of injector cleaner into the gas tank first and then top up with fuel. Read instructions on the bottle of injector cleaner to know how much fuel you should add. When you add fuel, the injector cleaner will mix properly.
Now drive the vehicle normally. Remember: Let the fuel tank get near empty/in reserve before filling up again (Don’t dilute the mixture).
That’s it. Your first cycle of injector cleaning will be complete after burning off this fuel mixture. Most of the time this is enough to notice some performance improvements but you can go another cycle if you’re not satisfied.
How often should you use it
It’s often recommended to use a fuel injector cleaner every 10,000 km. However, if you suspect that the fuel quality in your area is not great then every 5,000 km will be a good choice.
But again, with so many injector cleaners with varying strengths, it’s best to refer to what the product manufacturer suggests.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners for petrol car
If you are confused about what’s the right fuel system cleaner for your car then here are our favourite products:
Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus
This is Amazon USA’s best selling fuel system cleaner for gasoline engines
Liqui Moly Petrol Injector Cleaner
This injector cleaner is compatible for all gasoline engines. Liqui moly injector cleaner has been tested to be safe for catalytic converters and turbochargers. This 300ml bottle is good for 70-litre of gas tank.
Here’s what the manufacturer claims: “Removes deposits on injection valves, intake valves, spark plugs and in the combustion chamber and prevents them from reforming. Eliminates start problems and rough engine running. Cares for all components in the gasoline injection system. Protects the entire fuel system from corrosion. Improves the throttle response and compression. Optimizes the emission test values and performance of the engine. Clean engines need less fuel and reduce emissions.” Check price on Amazon- here
STP Super Concentrated Injector Cleaner
Manufacturer says: “STP Super Concentrated Fuel Injector Cleaner contains concentrated detergents that help dissolve and remove harmful carbon, gum, and varnish deposits on fuel injectors. Without cleaning, deposits can lead to hard starts, lost acceleration and rough idling. This product is made with jet fuel, a high-quality carrier of active ingredients.”
It comes in 354ml bottle that’s good for 65 litres of fuel. Check price on Amazon- here
Fuel Injector Cleaner for Diesel Car
Liqui Moly Truck Series Complete Diesel System Cleaner
Developed especially for the Diesel Trucks, this Liqui Moly Diesel fuel system cleaner is trusted product. It promises good cleaning properties that maintain the performance of your diesel truck. It removes deposits from injector nozzles and from the combustion chamber.
It’s safe for EGR valve and DPF systems on the exhaust. Since all newer trucks are fitted with DPF exhaust systems, we need to pick a product that’s safe for it.
Liqui Moly Super Diesel Additive
Manufacturer says: “It reduces wear of fuel pump, extends life of the equipment. Improves engine performance and emissions control. Prevents rust and contamination in fuel tank, pipes and injection system. Improves the economy.”
This product is tested to be safe for turbo cars. One bottle is sufficient for 75-litre of fuel. Check price on Amazon- here
Abro DI-502 Diesel Injector Cleaner
This product claims to stops Diesel Engine Hesitation, helps Remove Water from Diesel Fuel Tank, and Improve Mileage by dissolves gum and deposits. Check its price on Amazon- Here
I hope now you have your questions regarding injector cleaners answered. If you have any other question, let us know in the comments section.
Watch this video to learn more about fuel injector cleaners and other additives:
Also Know: How to take care of your turbocharged car
How Often Should I use Injector Cleaner?
Generally, it’s recommended that fuel injector cleaner be used every 10,000 km. However, if you suspect that the fuel quality in your area is not good, then every try to add injector cleaner every 5,000 km
Can Fuel Injector Cleaner Cause Problems?
Yes, in some rare case fuel injector cleaners can cause issues with O2 sensor or catalytic convertor. As a precaution, ensure that fuel system cleaner is for your specific fuel type: Diesel or Gasoline/petrol. Also, don’t add too much cleaner in gas tank. Ideally, a full bottle of injector cleaner is to be used with full tank of gas.
What are the symptoms of a clogged fuel injector?
Symptoms of bad injector includes: Reduced acceleration, reduced fuel efficiency, Bucking under engine load, sputtering, Carbon deposit at exhaust tips.