Fuel injector systems inject fuel at specific timings in order to provide the proper air/fuel mixture. They also inject fuel at the correct angle, pressure, and spray pattern. This atomizes the fuel, making it easier for the engine to combust.
Overtime these injectors become dirty and it's best to clean them. Your vehicle will experience better gas mileage and optimal fuel consumption. Therefore, you’ll save on both fuel and maintenance costs.
The Best Fuel Injector Cleaners
Cleaning the engine and the fuel injectors is important. While fuel additives that have certain cleaning components have been around since the 1950s, it wasn’t until recently that fuel system cleaners started to be sold.
1. Lucas Fuel Treatment
When it comes to fuel and oil additives, there is no doubt that Lucas is one of the leading brands.
You can use their fuel treatment for both diesel and gasoline engines. Lucas notes your vehicle will experience an increase in power and fuel efficiency by burning unnecessary toxic emissions.
Apart from cleaning your fuel injectors, it also cleans and lubricates upper cylinders, pumps, and neutralizes poor quality fuel improving durability as well as efficiency. As a result it complies with the federal low sulfur content requirement.
Another amazing feature of this fuel treatment is overall value. This gallon-size container can treat over 400 gallons of gasoline or diesel fuel.
2. Chevron Techron Fuel Injector Cleaner
Chevron Techron is by far the most popular choice for fuel injector cleaners. They feature their patented polyetheramine technology This particular product however is designed as a full spectrum fuel system cleaner.
Chevron notes to add one bottle of Techron per 3,000 miles or every time you change the oil. The fuel injector cleaner will successfully remove the months or years of carbon deposits. While it is an effective product, it's designed for repeat use which can be somewhat expensive.
You can use this cleaner even with ethanol fuels. However, if your vehicle runs on diesel, you’ll need a different product.
3. Red Line Fuel Injector Cleaner
Red Line's Fuel System Cleaner is quite popular. It will clean your engine's fuel system and keep the moisture and carboxyl build-up at bay.
The formula contains about 50% verified Polyether Amines (PEA) — which is the highest of any cleaner available. PEA is specifically designed to remove carboxyl deposits.
Due to the amounts of PEA, Red Line's fuel system cleaner can easily remove years of debris, carbon-build up, rust, gunk, and varnish.
Another good thing about Red Line is that you can use it with a full tank of gas. You don’t have to sit around and wait for the cleaner to do its magic. Just pour it in and mix it with the fuel and it will clean the fuel system as you drive.
4. Royal Purple Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner
Royal Purple Fuel System Cleaner has a good amount of PEA which ensures the efficiency. The cleaner is a 3-in-1 fuel additive.
It claims to improve horsepower by 2.6% and fuel economy by 3.2%, which will definitely save you some money at the pump. Aside from that, it also helps to minimize hydrocarbon, NOx and CO emissions. It’s safe to say that it is one of the most cost-effective eco-friendly products on the market. It also eliminates stalling and other hesitation issues to ensure that you can enjoy a smooth ride.
It’s easy to use — simply pour the cleaner in the gas tank before filling it up. And if you have a car with a small engine, just adjust the amount of the cleaner according to the 3-to-1 ratio. You should use it every 10,000 or so miles.
5. Liqui Moly Gasoline Fuel Injector Cleaner
German-made Liqui Moly Jectron was originally designed for high-end cars like BMW and Mercedes Benz only. But, even if you’re not a fan of the German automotive industry, as long as your car runs on gasoline, Liqui Moly Jectron is a great choice for you.
Liqui Moly Jectron can solve stalling, start-up problems, or any hesitation issues. You can also expect a better throttle response and smoother idling. It’s really easy to use because of its handy applicator. To get the best results, it’s best if you pour a bottle of it while the tank is half-full. Typically, one bottle should solve all your issues.
Although it comes in a small bottle, it is still an affordable option considering the effects it has and how long they last. And it’s a blessing for old vehicles, as the immediate effect is present even when it comes to years of debris and gunk.
What to Look for in a Fuel Injector Cleaner
Before you pick a fuel injector cleaner, you should consider the following:
"Benefits" of Fuel Injector Cleaner
These products provide a number of purported benefits for your vehicle. Based on what injector cleaners are advertised to do, these are the most plausible:
Cleaning carbon deposits from a dirty fuel system will help increase your overall fuel efficiency. Your injectors will be able to provide an adequate fuel to air ratio that the vehicle needs to combust properly.
This topic is somewhat controversial. People like to claim that the cleaner is going to cost more money over time. Truth be told, these products are relatively inexpensive and if you buy in bulk they are even cheaper. Personally, i'd rather burn all the fuel that I put in my tank than spit it out of my exhaust.
Types of Fuel Injector Cleaner
There are two main types of fuel injector cleaner available: dissolvents and detergents.
These are the more popular and widely used option. The most common ingredient to look for is polyetheramine or PEA. PEA is the strongest cleaning agent available.
The deposits or build up in your injectors are carboxyl compounds. PEA is a chemical specifically designed to dissolve these carboxyl deposits. Polyetheramine is also known by the name Techron which is patented by Chevron.
These products literally dissolve carbon deposits and eject them through the exhaust.
This is the lesser known and used additive and most people believe that dissolving the deposits is the better option. Essentially, detergents work by activating chemicals that result in the carbon deposits to slide their way out of the fuel system.
We mentioned PEA above, but Polyisobutylene or PIB is used as a detergent to remove sediments in the fuel line. There is also Polyisobutylene Amine or PIBA which helps to remove moisture from the fuel and system.
Truth be told, since 1995 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has required detergents in fuel. Gasoline has since improved and less problems arise with injectors.
How Often Should You Use an Injector Cleaner?
Product labels will have their own general rule of thumb for usage. Sometimes they express amounts to use in such a way that it can feel like a financial burden.
There are a lot of opinions online as to how often you should use an injector cleaner if at all. Some might recommend at every other fuel up while others say every oil change (3-5000 miles). Some recommend 36 months or 45,000 miles and some people say it's a gimmick and not to use it at all.
As a general rule of thumb, if you have an older vehicle and notice fuel economy issues, use a cleaner to remove deposits and see if things improve.
If you own an older vehicle and feel that it's in dire need of a tune-up, then fuel injector cleaner might be for you. Fuel injectors are an important part of your vehicle and ensure that it's running at optimal efficiency.
These days with the use of detergents in top tier fuel and the efficiency of modern engines, less of these products are required. We'd recommend using better fuel, but if you are in need of one, look for products using PEA and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.