The best way to clean fuel injectors is on a machine designed specifically for the job. But, that’s not a realistic option for a lot of people. A dedicated injector cleaner will cost you thousands of dollars. Even if you went to a shop that did it, the bill would be significant becasue of the labor cost to remove the injectors. So what are your options?
There are a number of different fuel additives, some based on detergents, that you can pour into your gas tank. These get sent around the fuel system and through the combustion process. They’re marketed as fuel system cleaners. They claim to restore power, reduce emissions, eliminate rough running.
But can they really do all that they claim?
We’ve chosen six of the best injector cleaners on the market as well as what each product does, and why it could potentially help with certain problems.
The Best Fuel Injector Cleaner
- Rating: 4.8 / 5
- Brand: Chevron
Chevron is an energy company, they’ve been supplying fuels, additives, and petrochemicals for forever it seems. So what they don’t know about fuel and fuel additives could be written on a sticky note.
As the name suggests, this is a concentrated formula of their popular fuel injector cleaner. They advise it to be used quite sparingly – every 3,000 miles or so. It’s essentially a full cleaner for everything and anything related to the fuel or combustion process.
It’s a patented formula, using what Chevron calls ‘fuel additive technology’, and it gets to work the moment you put it in the tank (using the handy, long-necked bottle). It cleans the injectors (or carburetor), intake valves, intake system, and combustion chambers.
These all help to restore any ‘lost’ power, improve acceleration, and even add an extra bit to the fuel economy. The most surprising thing is working its magic on the fuel gauge sender, for they too can become gummed up.
Chevron also says that it helps to improve cold-start ability and keep fuel stable for up to one year. It’s unlikely you’ll be needing to keep the same gas in your car for a year unless you were storing the vehicle, and in which case, you’d drain it anyway.
All in all, for the price and the benefit, Chevron Techron cleaner is great value for money, and really can help to keep your engine clean and running error-free.
First up, you’ll need to decant this into a smaller container, jug or bottle because it’s a gallon of fluid, you’ll need to measure out the required amount for a fill.
It can be used in both gasoline and diesel engines. Lucas says it’s a great additive for the low-sulfur diesel fuel problems. It’s equally great for engines that were designed to run on leaded fuel. It gives you all the benefits of leaded fuel, without the negatives.
It doesn’t matter if the engine is carburetor fed, fuel injection, turbo or normally aspirated. This juice will work to help clean everything within the fuel system, give better gas mileage, increase power and clean up exhaust emissions (thanks to better burn).
This fuel treatment is a high detergent and super slick oil formulation that’s made in the USA. Because of the jumbo size, it offers great value for money, especially when compared to some of the other products. An all-around great product, that’s worth using if your engine is older.
Small but mighty, this can of additive will treat 20 gallons of gas. It has been proven to improve combustion quality and power output.
BG 44K helps to clean everything in the fuel system and combustion cycle. That includes fuel injectors, valves, combustion chamber, and intake manifold.
It has been tested to ensure that it’s fully compatible with all materials used in a fuel system. So, there’s no danger of creating further issues by degrading any components. It can also be used in conjunction with other fuel additives, making it safe to mix if you’ve used formulas such as octane boosters in the past.
My only real bother with the 44K is that it is slightly more difficult to open. It will need some way (like a funnel) of getting it into the fuel filler neck of your car. Aside from that, it’s a quality product that works great.
I know lots of people that have used Red Line stuff in the past. It always seems to do what it’s meant to. The fuel system cleaner is no different. Red Line Complete SI-1 cleans to near 100% efficiency in one treatment. That’s significant. They aren’t trying to upsell you into having to use this on every fill-up, so there’s no BS behind it.
It’s a detergent-based additive that uses a powerful formulation of high and low-temperature detergents. This means it should work across the board. The concentrated blend works best for those really neglected engines
It’ll shift all sorts of deposits and reduces the need for octane gasoline by at least two points. It will also clean the fuel lines, injectors (or carbs), tank, combustion chambers, and valves.
The #1 cleaner for a project vehicle; the one that stood out in your yard for a few years with the promise of “one day, I’ll get her running again.” This is the first step.
- Rating: 4.2 / 5
- Brand: Liqui Moly
The Liqui Moly information is quite scant. There’s no “secret blend of top quality chemicals and detergents” type of thing.
Liqui Moly talks about ‘injector dosing’ and better fuel atomization. They’ve engineered the product and tested it professionally.
One application helps to eliminate all manner of problems. From starting, hesitation, and stalling to giving better idle speeds, throttle response, and cleaner combustion. Also, it will remove carbon deposits from the internals of the engine (which could also mean less chance of pinging.)
- Rating: 4.2 / 5
- Brand: Royal Purple
According to Royal Purple, it can help to improve fuel economy by an average of 3.2%. It will increase horsepower by 2.6% and reduce hydrocarbons, NOx and CO emissions by as much as 12% (hydrocarbons), 13% (NOx), and 18% for CO. That’s a huge difference for an average car.
It can be used in any car, with any fuel, forced induction or naturally aspirated, and covers diesel also. It can be used from new as an aid to keeping things as they should be, as a fuel stabilizer, or as a cleaner for older engines. It does a great job of cleaning everything from the gas tank to the combustion chambers.
As an everyday choice, the Royal Purple Max-Clean would get my vote for the best fuel injector cleaner.
You could view using a product like this as some sort of preventative measure. One that makes it so that your fuel system won’t get clogged up with gum or varnish deposits from the fuel. Or to keep your combustion chambers clean. But, most people just turn to these products when they’ve hit a problem.
Understanding the type of running problem can help you diagnose what to look for. It could be that you’re ‘missing’ a cylinder, a lumpy idle speed, a general lack of power or worse. Popping and banging through the exhaust or intake system are usually signs of something much more serious.
Newer cars are more difficult to work on. Not only are the systems more complex and technologically advanced, but generally speaking, everything is hidden under plastic to make it look neater. Having said that, if your car is really new, there’s a chance it’s still under warranty anyway.
So, assuming that you can reach/see everything under the hood, the first place to start is to understand that really, there are just two elements that go wrong. Fuel or electrical. You could add ‘mechanical’ to that list, but 9 times of out 10, a mechanical fault occurs through something else.
If you’re trying to identify a missing cylinder, you can pull the injector plug from each injector to see if it changes how it runs. If there’s no change that means it’s a faulty cylinder. You can also use the HT leads for the same effect. However, if you’re not careful, you’ll get a massive voltage shock (low current, so painful rather than deadly). Using the HT leads also works for carbureted engines where there are no injector plugs to pull.
If the engine just seems to be running badly, it could be something as simple as needing a tune-up – new spark plugs, air filter (or if you’re feeling fancy, an upgraded cold air intake). But again, much will depend on how new and how clever your car is.
Most modern-ish cars are capable of masking faults by adapting the running parameters to cope with the change or reset to a default reading (in the case of sensors – air, coolant, etc.)
Plugging in a diagnostic tool may not help either. Sure, it will tell you if a sensor is faulty or getting erroneous readings, but it won’t tell you why. It could well be that another sensor has failed and that sparks a chain reaction further down the line. Modern cars, huh.
While using these fuel additives may not cure the problem (it really does depend on the problem), it’s doubtful that they won’t do any harm, and for the sake of a few dollars, they’re worth trying if you’re experiencing these types of running problems.