Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
It's a well-known fact that every part of your car thrives better when given a little extra care by its owner. Thankfully there are countless products that aid car owners in the process of caring for their vehicles. These include everything from tires to windshield wipers. But what about your fuel injectors? Do the products advertised as fuel injector cleaners really work as advertised? We've done the research to bring you the answer.
When regularly used, fuel injector cleaners can help remove built-up deposits that can harm your fuel injectors. They also prevent new deposits from developing. This is an essential addition to routine maintenance for vehicles that run on ethanol-based gasoline and fuel-injected engines.
As with any product for your vehicle, not all fuel injector cleaners are created equal, and making informed choices on which ones to use for your car is important. Read on to learn how fuel injectors work and which one might be the best for you and your needs.
Do fuel injector cleaners really work?
It's not wrong to be wary of products on the automotive market. There are more than a few snake oils out there waiting to soak up your cash and offer nothing in return. Many oils and fluids promise increased gas mileage, speed, and various other performances when it comes to your vehicle. Some do nothing. Some can even damage your automobile. Are fuel injector cleaners among these?
It should be noted that information on fuel injector cleaners at this point is largely anecdotal. Peer-reviewed scientific research on their success has yet to be conducted, but large amounts of anecdotal evidence are nothing to be scoffed at. The consensus on fuel injector cleaners is that yes, they do work if used properly.
Why Fuel Injector Cleaners Are Necessary
To understand why fuel injector cleaners are necessary, it's important to know where buildup comes from in the first place. Gasoline leaves a fair amount of deposits around your fuel system, including in your tank, fuel lines, and around your regulators. This buildup will damage your vehicle over time if left unchecked. There are two main culprits of gasoline buildup.
Ethanol, especially in older engines, contains corrosive alcohol that wears down an engine. This causes damage to engine parts along with dislodged carbon deposits over time. Ethanol also oxidizes, forming byproducts and buildup in your engine. This leads to poor fuel economy and performance.
Carbon is the main offender when it comes to the issue of buildup deposits. Our vehicles aren't able to extract 100% of the energy in the fuel we use. There are inherent portions of fuel that don't combust completely during the process and leave behind residue. These carbon byproducts can get into your exhaust system, fuel injectors, and elsewhere.
The main function that cleaner accomplishes is breaking down this buildup and safely flushing it out of your system. Simply by removal, your engine will receive the benefits of better fuel mileage and performance. Fuel injection cleaners also introduce moisture into your engine system and stabilize your gasoline.
Read more at VEHQ: "Do diesel engine cleaners actually work?"
How Do I Know If My Fuel Injectors Are Clogged?
While dirty fuel injectors aren't a problem you can visibly diagnose, there are several symptoms you can easily recognize plaguing your car. Dirty fuel injectors can explain engine misfires. If the balance between air and fuel getting into your engine is out of whack due to blockage, it will misfire when starting.
Rough idling, shaking, and sputtering when idling at stop signs or traffic lights, is another sign of clogged fuel injectors. Frequently, your engine will also completely shut off when rough idling is present. It's important to note that there are several reasons rough idling could occur in your vehicle, so don't hesitate to visit a professional mechanic.
As explained above, plummeting gas mileage is another telltale sign of suffering fuel injectors. If you notice your miles-per-gallon tanking with little other explanation, consider looking into your fuel injectors. And lastly, of course, your car might not start at all.
Keep in mind that a lot of these symptoms can have several potential causes. If your car has reached the point of just flat out not starting, for example, you might require professional cleaning from a mechanic along with the use of a fuel injector cleaner.
Read more at VEHQ: "How to safely clean a car engine."
How Long Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Take To Work?
There are many variables to the question that make it difficult to give a black and white statement. The amount of buildup in the vehicle and the concentration of the cleaner used are factors that play into speed, for example. Once you've placed your cleaner into your fuel injector system, it's important to run it through quickly and thoroughly. This will get it through your system and removing build-up as soon as possible.
Make sure you burn up as much of the fuel, and therefore cleaner, as possible before doing any refueling. You want all the cleaner through the system for max effect.
You should notice benefits to any aforementioned issues with your car fairly quickly, provided dirty fuel injectors are the issue. Keep in mind there could be something else going on with your vehicle. If cleaning your fuel injectors isn't helping with rough idling or a stalling car, don't hesitate to look elsewhere.
Which Fuel Injector Cleaner Works Best?
There are a lot of fuel injector cleaners on the market, and sifting through them can be difficult. There are a few name brands that have risen above the pack to become trusted. Chevron Techron has been in the fuel injector cleaner game for years and is well trusted for the quality of its additives and cleaners. Their fuel injector cleaner is also long-lasting, staying in an engine system for up to 3,000 miles.
Red Line is another trusted name in fuel additives, including fuel injector cleaner. Their product is known for providing in-depth cleansing, and the company stands by immediate results after just one use. Their fuel injector cleaner is highly concentrated and even optimizes your fuel usage. One 15-ounce bottle is good for up to two years, depending on car usage and model.
As with any purchase, do research and look around before buying fuel injector fluid cleaner. Read reviews and even ask a mechanic if you feel the need. Your car could have specific needs that could be better served by another injector cleaner.
Can Fuel Injector Cleaner Cause Problems?
We've discussed the benefits that fuel injector cleaner brings to a vehicle, but are there any drawbacks? Can fuel injector cleaner cause problems with your engine components? As mentioned before, the key is proper usage. If you make sure you're using your cleaner properly, there should never be a problem. Don't overdo the amount of cleaner, as too much product can overtax things like your gas tank lining.
Once again, being informed of proper usage and procedure is the best thing you can do. Don't hesitate to reach out and ask if you're concerned about something regarding your cleaner usage. Your mechanic or local forums will know what to do. Otherwise, there is nothing to worry about with fuel injector cleaners.
Your fuel injectors are a critical part of your car engine system, and keeping them clean is necessary. Fuel injector cleaners have noticeable benefits when properly applied and don't necessarily require a trip to the mechanic to employ. If you haven't already, get them into your car care routine and enjoy the benefits they offer.