When it comes to cars, there are a lot of products on the market that are unnecessary or just don’t work. You’ll see all kinds of claims about additives that can increase your car’s speed and performance or reduce fuel consumption. Then, when you try them, you realize that they don’t really deliver the results they promise. Worse yet, if used incorrectly, they can even damage your car.
One of the products you might be curious about is fuel injector cleaner. Like most things, people have mixed opinions about it. If you’re thinking about giving it a try, you might be wondering, does fuel injector cleaner work? Or is it just like those other products that promise big results and don’t deliver?
Let’s take a closer look at fuel injector cleaners, the different types of products on the market, and whether or not they work.
What Is a Fuel Injector Cleaner?
Skip to the good stuff:
- What Is a Fuel Injector Cleaner?
- Types of Fuel Injector Cleaners
- So Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Work?
- How Often Do You Need to Use Fuel Injector Cleaner?
- Can You Prevent Deposits from Forming?
- The Verdict
Fuel injector cleaners are formulated with different solvents to clean out your fuel lines. You should always follow the directions that come with the product you choose but, generally, you should add the cleaning solution directly to your fuel tank when it’s almost empty. Then, fill the tank with whatever fuel you normally use and drive as usual.
To do what it’s supposed to, a fuel injector cleaner has to cycle through the fuel system. Some high-quality injection cleaners even work on both the fuel injectors as well as other parts of the fuel line. These additives are eliminated with the rest of the fuel as the engine runs and don’t leave behind any new deposits.
Types of Fuel Injector Cleaners
Not all cleaning fuel injectors are the same. Every brand has its own blend but there are three common ingredients that most of them use in one way or another.
Polyether amine or PEA is a pretty heavy-duty compound. It’s the strongest of the three we’re going to cover and can help get rid of solid deposits in the fuel injectors and fuel lines, drastically improving performance. Because this is such powerful stuff for the entire fuel system, it should be used sparingly. Some fuel injector cleaners can be used regularly but this one should be used with a bit of caution.
Polyisobutylene can be used in both gas and diesel engines. If you see “PIB” on the label, it’s polyisobutylene. This ingredient can help stop engine knocking and even misfiring if the buildup is causing fuel restriction.
Another ingredient that’s common in fuel injector cleaning solutions is polyisobutylene amine. This is similar to polyisobutylene but goes one step further – it can help get rid of moisture in the fuel line. This can happen if stale fuel is used, like if you haven’t driven your car in a long time. In this case, using a fuel system cleaner with polyisobutylene amine can get everything running as it should be again.
So Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Work?
To put it simply, maybe. There’s no scientific evidence that fuel injector cleaners work but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they do. One way to decide whether you want to try a product is to spend some time reading customer reviews. If you find something that a lot of people swear by, it’s definitely worth a closer look. That said, because there doesn’t seem to be any science behind whether or not these products work, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the same results.
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How Often Do You Need to Use Fuel Injector Cleaner?
You don’t need to use a fuel injector cleaner very often. Most people recommend running a cleaner through the fuel system with every oil change. For older cars, that means roughly every 3,000 miles but some highly efficient modern engines can go as many as 15,000 miles. Check with your vehicle’s manufacturer to make sure.
If you’re having problems with your fuel line or fuel economy and you think a fuel injector cleaner could help, they’re not very expensive so it doesn’t hurt to try a bottle to troubleshoot. Just bear in mind that significant blockages may not respond to a fuel injector cleaner and may require a full cleaning and diagnosis at an auto repair shop.
Can You Prevent Deposits from Forming?
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that’s true when it comes to buildup in your fuel injectors. There’s an easy way to keep your engine free of deposits – use high-quality, top tier fuel. Some deposits may develop over time but it will take much longer than with low-quality gasoline. In fact, independent labs have shown that lower-quality gasoline causes significantly more engine deposits after only 4,000 miles.
As mentioned, there’s no definitive proof that fuel injector cleaner works but, if you ask around, you’ll find plenty of people who swear by it. Since it’s so affordable and available just about anywhere, it’s worth a try if you’re having problems. That said, it’s unlikely to work on significant blockages.
If you’re looking for the answer for does fuel injector cleaner work and want to give it a try, here are some of the best products on the market.
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