(Last Updated On: July 11, 2019)
Why do fuel injector cleaning on your vehicles engine? If you own a car, truck, or RV, then you’re going to need to be able to answer this question.
Vehicle maintenance can be daunting, even when it comes to relatively simple tasks like keeping fuel lines clean. The fuel that you put in your gas tank is just as important as the oil that goes into your motor, but you’ll never get maximum efficiency from your car if your fuel system isn’t regularly cleaned. Deposits in the fuel line can decrease fuel efficiency and limit your mileage, and long term neglect can cause damage that leads to expensive repairs.
If you want to ensure your car hits the rated MPG figure, while cleaning up your idle rev and improving throttle response, then you’ll need to know how to use fuel injector cleaner. Don’t worry, it’s much easier than you might have thought!
Understanding the Basics – How Fuel Injector Cleaner Works
Injector cleaners are solvents that are applied directly into your fuel mix. No matter what the gasoline companies tell you, the fuel that you pump at the gas station is not completely pure. There are additives in the gasoline, and sometimes the fuel is even compromised when it is stored at the tank farm. Sediment in the fuel and chemical reactions can mean that thick deposits will almost certainly build up in your fuel line, over time.
A high quality fuel injector cleaner will mix with the fuel to dissolve buildup in the injectors and in the fuel line, and then the solvents are burned away with the fuel during the combustion process. Think of it as a detox for your vehicle, and when you closely follow fuel injector cleaner instructions, you will experience noticeable improvements in the running of your vehicle.
What Goes into a Bottle of Fuel Injector Cleaner?
There are three main chemical components that are used in the various fuel injector cleaners that are available on the market. Checking any particular bottle for these chemicals can reveal the ideal use case scenario for any particular cleaner that you are considering.
- Polyisobutylene: This compound is used in both diesel fuel injector cleaner and gasoline varieties. It is more commonly labeled as PIB. It acts as a detergent, removing sediment and buildup in the injectors and fuel lines. Research has shown that this particular additive can also reduce misfiring and engine knock problems.
- Polyether Amine: Sometimes labeled as PEA, this compound is highly effective at removing solidified deposits that restrict injector flow or partially block fuel lines. Highly effective, this compound can break the bonds of solid deposits on a molecular level. Broken down, the deposits are then harmlessly ejected through the vehicles exhaust after passing through the combustion chamber. One of the advantages of products based on this compound is that there is absolutely no residue left in the fuel lines, injectors, or within the engine.
- Polyisobutylene Amine: Otherwise known as PIBA, this compound is similar to PIB, with the difference being that it is more effective at removing moisture. However, it is ineffective at cleaning the combustion chamber, so is mostly used as a maintenance product, rather than as one that can remove long term gunk buildup and sediment deposits.
Different Fuel Injector Cleaners on The Market
Whether you purchase your injector cleaner online, or from a hypermarket or specialist auto store, you will be faced with several different brands and types of cleaners. Knowing which one is right to use can be a difficult task if you haven’t performed some research first.
The following are some of the most popular injector cleaners on the market, all of which have been proven to effectively clean and maintain injectors and fuel lines when used properly.
Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner
- Cleans and protects entire fuel system, Improves cold start performance and fuel stability
BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner
- Cleans fuel injectors, valves and combustion chambers, To use for gasoline engines only
- Increases power and miles per gallon, Cleans fuel system, Increases life of pumps and injectors
Red Line Complete SI-1 Fuel System Cleaner
- Cleans injectors and carbs, Prevents fuel system rust, Reduces pre-ignition and run-on
Royal Purple Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizer
- 3-in-1 fuel additive, Improves fuel economy, Increases horsepower, Reduces hydrocarbon
- Red Line Complete SI-1 Fuel System Cleaner: Highly rated by consumers, this is a cleaner that has been designed for maximum efficiency, and it’s safe for regular use for maintaining clean fuel lines. This is a good quality cleaner to use if you’ve never treated your vehicle with a fuel injector cleaner, and it also incorporates additives that clean the cylinders within your engine. This cleaner uses PEA as a main ingredient, and while it can cost a little more than some competing products, the cleaning power is worth the bump in price. It is suitable for gasoline engines only, and should not be used on LPG or diesel fueled vehicles.
- Royal Purple Max Clean Fuel System Cleaner: Testing with this particular cleaner has revealed that it is not only highly efficient, but that it can help to boost the horsepower output of your vehicle. The best performance improvements will be experienced by users who haven’t performed a fuel line clean for an extended period of time, and fuel economy will also receive a boost by up to 3.2%. This product can be used every 10,000 miles to maintain clean fuel lines and injectors.
- Lucas Fuel Treatment with Injector Cleaners and Fuel Conditioners: If you own a diesel vehicle, or both gasoline and diesel vehicles, then the Lucas treatment is one of the best options for regular cleaning of your fuel lines. It includes fuel conditioners that boost performance and keep fuel clean, as well as injector cleaners to perform the essential task of clearing out built up residue that already exists in fuel lines and injectors. This product is highly praised by reviewers as one of the best diesel fuel injector cleaner solutions on the market.
Guidelines When using Fuel Injector Cleaner on Your Vehicle
Now that you know what injector cleaners do, and have a few suggestions for products on the market, it’s time to learn how to use the products, including how much fuel injector cleaner to use, and how often to use fuel injector cleaner.
When it comes to how much you should use, this is entirely dependent on the manufacturer instructions. Different manufacturers design their solutions in different strengths. For some products, such as the Red Line Complete that was previously mentioned, a single 15-ounce bottle is suitable for a 20-gallon tank of fuel. Other products, such as the Lucas Fuel treatment, only require a single ounce per 10 gallons of fuel in the tank. It is critical that you check the size of fuel tank on your vehicle (search online or ask your dealer), and follow the mix instructions for any cleaner that you purchase.
Regarding the frequency at which you should use injector cleaner, it is generally considered that every 10,000 miles is an ideal mileage to use a maintenance type product.
How to Use Fuel Injector Cleaner – Three Simple Steps
If you’ve ever been apprehensive when it comes to using fuel line cleaning products, you will probably be surprised at how easy it is to use fuel injector cleaner. In just a few simple steps, you can easily treat your car and keep your fuel lines clean. It’s best to perform these steps at a gas station so that you can immediately fill your tank after adding the cleaner.
- Make sure you have a near empty tank in your vehicle.
- Using your chosen fuel cleaner, read the instructions and add the correct amount of fluid for the size of your gas tank.
- Empty the contents into the fuel filler on your car, and top up with your regular fuel.
The reason for adding the cleaner when the tank is near empty is so that you can achieve a good mixture of fuel and cleaner. For some cleaning products, there may be some additional steps, such as idling your vehicle for a certain period of time before driving as normal. For general maintenance, the above steps will be all that you need with the majority of fuel cleaning products that are out there, but always read the instructions first.
Using Fuel Injector Additives When Storing Your Car for Long Periods
Just as fuel can cause problems in your injectors while your car as running, the same can happen when your car is not being used. In fact, leaving your car for long periods of time will increase the risk of sediment building up and causing problems when you finally restart the car and run fuel through the lines and injectors.
To avoid problems when storing your car, you can follow the fuel injector cleaner instructions on a special bottle of storage cleaner. Products like STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer are designed to be added to the tank in any gasoline vehicle that will be stored for more than 30 days. It can keep fuel fresh for up to two years, and it is guaranteed to work with all gasoline blends. Because this type of cleaner will potentially need to perform up to two years of cleaning work, it is important that the vehicle is idled for at least 30 minutes when restarting. This will give the product time to run through all of the lines, injectors, and even the combustion chamber, allowing for a thorough clean that will prevent any damage or parts failures after long periods of storage.
If you only use your car occasionally throughout the year, such as in the case of a ‘weekend’ car or any other recreational vehicle, then the use of this kind of additive can ensure that you maintain efficiency and prevent long term damage caused by dirty fuel.
Alternatives to Using Additives to Clean Your Fuel Injectors
There are fuel injector cleaner alternatives, but they are typically more inconvenient, and should only be required when your fuel system is heavily affected by buildup and blockages. Injectors can be removed completely and cleaned using solvents that are forced through at high pressure. This is not a process that can be achieved at home, and you’ll either need to remove and send your injectors to a specialist company, or take your vehicle into an auto shop to have the work done.
As a last resort, this is obviously the only way to ensure that your injectors are clean and performing to the standards that they were when they left the production line. Depending on how many cylinders your vehicle has, this work could become relatively expensive. There’s a fuel injector for every cylinder on your engine, and if your engine is particularly difficult to work on, then you will also face increased labor costs to have the work completed.
Rather than seeking alternatives, the best strategy is to always ensure that you maintain your car by learning how to use a fuel injector cleaner, and following the appropriate fuel injector cleaner instructions for any product that you have purchased.
Fuel Injector Cleaning is an Essential and Simple Aspect of Vehicle Maintenance
You now know that injectors play a critical role in keeping an engine running smoothly and efficiently, and you no longer need to ask yourself; why do fuel injector cleaning?
To remove sediment and solidified buildups, regular fuel injector cleaning is the best option. With different products available on the market, it’s always important to keep in mind that you should shop based on your needs. A heavy duty PEA based cleaner should be used if your fuel lines have been neglected for an extended period of time, or, if you’re simply looking to maintain your fuel system, then a PIB or PIBA based cleaner will provide adequate cleaning at regular mileage intervals.
Always ensure that you’ve chosen the right cleaner for the type of fuel that your vehicle runs on, and make sure that you follow all manufacturer instructions. Now that you’re comfortable with the steps of how to use fuel injector cleaner, you can ensure excellent fuel efficiency, with fewer breakdowns and performance issues over the lifetime of your car, truck, or SUV.