Do Diesel Engine Cleaners Actually Work?

Diesel engines are somewhat famous for being unique when it comes to their needs. They don't need oil changes, but they do still need maintenance of their own. One of the more common ways to improve horsepower and clean burning in an engine is through the use of diesel engine cleaners, also known as diesel injections. It's assumed they work, but the research we performed might change your mind about spending money on it. 

Though there is some marginal evidence that suggests that diesel engine cleaners work, they're not necessary. Injector cleaners are somewhat superfluous since fuels already contain some detergents to keep your car running smoothly. A little bit of injector cleaner may be able to help, but it's possible to damage your car if you use too much.

If you want to extend your diesel engine's lifespan, you will need to know what's worth investing in and what isn't. Injectors might be okay in some cases, but they also might pose a risk to your car. This guide will reveal the truth behind these hotly-contested picks.

A close up photo of a diesel engine and a diesel engine cleaner, Do Diesel Engine Cleaners Actually Work?

How Effective Are Diesel Engine Cleaners?

Diesel injectors are probably not as effective as you think they are. According to, using fuel injectors in a car is a lot like adding a small amount of detergent to a bathtub in hopes that it'll clean your plumbing. While some studies show that certain additives can help prevent fuel blockages in diesel engines, it's not the be-all and end-all of keeping a smoothly running engine. 

A good way to think about diesel injectors is as if they're add-ons. If you don't have an injector in your engine, that's fine. If you do, then you may see better results. Unless you have a very hard-up engine, you probably won't notice a drastic difference in how it runs. In fact, low maintenance requirements are why buying diesel cars can make a lot of sense.

How Long Does It Take For Injector Cleaner To Work?

While this varies from brand to brand, it's safe to assume that results show relatively quickly. Within driving 50 to 100 miles, you'll be able to notice a slight difference in how your car handles. To keep on the safe side, it's better to assume that you will see the full treatment results within two to three days.

What's A More Effective Method Of Cleaning A Fuel Tank?

Let's say that you're noticing that your diesel engine is running a little "gummy." You might get good results from using a diesel injector, but a more powerful method of getting your engine cleaned would be to take it to a professional for a tank flush. This involves flushing out all the fuel, oil, and gunk that has accumulated in your engine. 

For the most part, you shouldn't have to worry about getting a professional flush regularly. If done too frequently, engine flushes can actually damage the tank and engine. It's best to do them whenever your mechanic recommends them, and only after your engine has hit the 100,000-mile mark. 

How Often Should I Use Diesel Fuel Treatment?

This all depends on what you want to do with the treatment. Some use it for light maintenance, others use it for a light cleaning, and others still use it as a major cleanout. Here's what you need to be aware of when you're trying to time your treatments.

  • If you're using it as a minor maintenance treat, most injectors suggest adding an ounce per gallon of gas at every fillup. Another option is to add a diesel injector every 2500 to 3000 miles as part of your regular maintenance.
  • People concerned about their fuel tanks gumming up due to cold should get a cold-specific fuel treatment during the winter months.
  • To clear out a slightly dirty fuel tank, use fuel treatment twice a year.
  • If you need to get a serious clog, opt for an engine tank flush or use a very high quantity. 
  • A well-maintained diesel car that's under 10 years old rarely needs injector cleaner, so think of it as more of a plus than a must.

It's best to follow the usage instructions on your diesel injector cleaner's bottle when in doubt. The manufacturer will know how to best use the product.

Can You Use Too Much Diesel Injector Cleaner?

Believe it or not, you can have too much of a good thing with diesel injector cleaner. Too much injector cleaner can actually damage your fuel tank's lining. This poses a problem that can lead to fuel leaks, slow running, and engine failure. It's best to err on the side of caution since you don't want to spend your time replacing an engine

What Is The Best Injector Cleaner For Diesel Engines?

It's hard to nail down just one injector cleaner since many cleaners also come with additional treatments for various purposes. It's best to look for a treatment that works for your particular engine. With that said, you can always rely on one of these options below.

Everyday Diesel Treatment by Hot Shot's Secret

Hot Shot's Secret has been a reliable brand for years, and if you're looking for a good cleaner for everyday maintenance, you can't get better than their Secret Everyday line. This diesel-focused solution is gentle on your fuel tank liner and is specifically built for regular, everyday use. It's also been proven to help prevent rusting in engines.

Click here to get Everyday Diesel Treatment at Amazon.

Winter Diesel Treatment by STA-BIL 

Are you worried about your diesel tank jamming up due to low temperatures? It's a legitimate concern, and that's why it's a good idea to invest in a good winter cleaner. STA-BIL makes a hybrid that cleans your fuel lines while also reducing the risk of diesel gelling down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in cold weather, it's a good investment.

Click here to get Winter Treatment from Amazon.

Diesel Kleen by Power Service

Let's say that you have gone a long, long time without cleaning your fuel lines. You've worked your machine to the core, and it's becoming clear that your car's not acting the way it once did. You know you need to give your diesel engine a nice, deeper cleaning. Power Service has got your back and also comes with a performance-boosting additive called Cetane Boost. 

Click here to get Diesel Kleen from Amazon.

AR6400-D Diesel Fuel System Cleaner by Archoil

Currently, Archoil has one of the highest ratings for diesel cleaners among all new brands. This is a simple cleaner that is all about clearing out your tanks. Like most other cleaners on this list, users have reported a noted improvement in their performance. Even so, what we like the most about this system cleaner is how well it works on blocked DPRs and turbos alike. It works with all diesel car types.

Click here to get Archoil cleaner from Amazon.

Bio Kleen Diesel Cleaner by Power Service

Did you know that diesel fuel is more susceptible to biological infestations than regular gas? It's true. Fungi and bacteria are more likely to grow in stagnant diesel fuel than stagnant gas. Power Service makes one of the most effective biocide cleaners for diesel engines on the market, and it's remarkably easy to use. 

Most diesel engines will not need this. However, if you have left diesel gas in your engine for a month or so, picking this bottle up from the store can help prevent serious engine problems sooner than you think. 

Click here to get Bio Kleen from Amazon.


Diesel engines are a lot cleaner than they used to be, but that doesn't mean that you need to skip diesel fuel injection cleaners altogether. When done in moderation, using diesel cleaners can help you improve your engine's performance, prevent damage from bacteria, and even help prevent the dreaded "gelling" effect that occurs during cold weather. 

With that said, diesel cleaners do not work as well as they're often hyped to work. Though they can help remove clogs, there's only so much they can really do. Like with all chemical treatments, there are limits to what you should expect. If your engine is seriously cloggy, your best bet is to get a professional engine flush to get rid of whatever buildup has jammed your system. 

When in doubt, ask a professional mechanic to see if you really need cleaner treatment. In most cases, you're perfectly fine without one.

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