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Fuel Injection Cleaner -- Injector Cleaning

Fuel Injection Cleaner -- Tuneups and Fuel Economy

Fuel injection cleaner, also known as injector cleaner, is a simple trick that can give you a lot of bang for your buck. You pour it in your gas tank when filling up at the gas station, and away it goes. Especially in California, where emissions tests happen often, having a peak performance vehicle is very important. Clean fuel injectors help ensure:

  1. Fuel Economy
  2. Emissions
  3. Peak Engine Performance

If that's something you want as a car owner, consider using a fuel injection cleaner every couple of months.

Fuel injection cleaner, also known as fuel injector cleaner helps clean dirty parts like this.

Fuel injection cleaner, also known as fuel injector cleaner helps clean dirty parts like this.

Dirty Fuel Injectors

When fuel injectors are dirty, they can't deliver the correct spray required for combustion, and as a result, fuel economy and engine performance suffers. This, in the long run, can be costly or can even begin to cause symptoms:

  1. Rough Idle
  2. Misfiring
  3. Poor Fuel Economy

That's why fuel injection cleaner is a must. The reason I recommend fuel injector cleaner is because it's one of those simple things a person can do without having to replace any parts or any under the hood work. Normally in a tuneup, lots of things get replaced, things like spark plugs, distributor caps, belts, and fluids. But with fuel injectors, running an additive through a tank of gas every once in a while will keep them clean and running properly. It's something you can do cheaply and without automotive knowhow. Just follow the instructions on the bottle.

How Fuel Injector Cleaner Works

Over time, all fuel injectors become clogged. This happens because the deposits come from the gasoline itself. Gasoline is a compound mixture of hydrocarbons, and includes waxy, heavy chemicals known as oilfins, which yield a lot of energy when burned. As long as a car is running, the fuel injectors and engine runs efficiently. The clogging occurs when the engine is shut off, and a process known as heat soak occurs. Residue of fuel in the injector nozzles begins to evaporate, and it leaves the oilfins behind, which don't evaporate and some of which don't get washed away, but instead get baked into hard varnish deposits, which ultimately will clog the injectors.

Newer injectors are more resistant than the old ones to this kind of clogging, and additives are added to gasoline to try to dissolve some of these buildups. But cars that make mostly short trips are still especially susceptible to fuel injection clogging, and every injector will ultimately become clogged over time. If the fuel injectors are never cleaned, as the car ages you'll start to notice that your car shakes a bit while idling and eventually it will either stall or misfire, and all the while your fuel economy and engine performance will suffer. I was just in a car the other day that suffered from a very rough idle, and the driver had to keep a little pressure on the gas petal while stopped to keep the car from stalling. Fuel injector cleaner works by stripping away the clogging the builds up over time.

The Best Fuel Injector Cleaner

There are many different kinds of fuel injection cleaners, and the best fuel injection cleaner is one that might surprise you. It's gasoline itself! Cheap gasoline is often lacking in the additives that breakdown clogging and, over the long haul, can cost you more money than it saves. That being said, there are also some very good brands of fuel injection cleaner out there. I like Red Line's fuel system treatment the best. Red Line's Fuel injection cleaner is a total fuel system cleaner and works really well.

Another great way to go is seafoam, which I've written a lot about as well. Seafoam can be added to your gas tank as well as your oil. Check out the link for more info. Some other great injector cleaner is STP injection cleaner. It's reported to have the highest concentration of cleaning agents out of any fuel system cleaner. It's good for really tough clogs, but I still prefer Redline fuel system cleaner for boosting overall fuel economy. The best tip for keeping your injectors clean is to not buy cheap gas, but this is only a preventative measure. My guess is that for people reading this article, it's because your fuel injectors are already partially clogged and are causing problems to your engine performance. If that's the case, then you still have quite a few options. There are many cheap fuel injection cleaners that you can add to your gasoline which will act like drano on a sink pipe and will dissolve many of the clogs in your injectors. One such product is listed to the right. When used semi-regularly (once every few months) it will keep your injectors nice and clean.

But this may not be enough for some engines. Older engines already experiencing heavy problems may need a bigger hand. For this, you may actually need a fuel injection cleaner kit that will allow you to dismantle the fuel injection system and give it a nice clean. However, this is not always possible and some fuel injectors are delicate. Before trying this, I would definitely recommend running a bottle of fuel injection cleaner additive or two through a tank of gas and see if that helps at all. It's cheap and effective.


philip amos on March 29, 2019:

a very useful and informative article. I use Redex cleaner.

Mahmoud Abouzed from Egypt on May 16, 2017:

kenny on June 29, 2016:

I saw that you recommend Techron, but it's quite expensive. Lucas and BK44 are better alternatives I think.

Check here:

abid on December 26, 2014:

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1999 Pathfinder - engine smooth when first started in morning and runs well - but after half hour or so engine misfires and loses power off and on - not consistent.

Dorothy-Ann on November 15, 2014:

Thank you read your advice on using the fuel cleaner! Worked right away while we were driving the car. Like a miracle! Our car runs great now! Thank you!

Kyle McCombs from Providence, RI on October 26, 2013:

BG 44K is the best injector cleaner that just goes in the fuel tank. If you have the equipment, use the BG "Fuel Injection Service" Kit. It works wonders! I talk about it a little bit in my Hub if you want to read about it, I will be doing more write ups also.

steve on August 11, 2013:

aoao 95lexus400 ls i was going down the road it stated skipping bad it didnt run hot so i put in some injector cleaner got in the next day it started smoking white smoke i put new oring on the injectors it still doing the samething you can smell the gas from tailpipe gas be on the third plug on the passenger side ,think its a blown headgasket.

lwes4 on February 14, 2013:

I have a question have a2010 dodge avenger went in for a routine oil change, my car was running fine before i took it in no lights on no check engine light on no nothing get oil change they recommended oil change, transmission fluid and fuel injection clean. got all of that done car was misfiring not getting gas and i got around the corner went back to the place by then the check engine light is flashing and te nattery light pops up never had this problem he said well looks like you alterntor is not working properly well got that replaced, still misfiring while giving gas so they recommended going to another place foiund out they flooed the fuel injector and the spark plugs were jacked but changes the spark plugs but it is still misfirig they are saying that something is wrong when they change the alternator. I am not getting mo gas misfiring and it dies out on me. what do you thing it is?

Phil on September 30, 2012:

I have a 2001 Buick Lasabre Custom 3.8 that starts fine most of

time. 3 or 4 times a week when I turn the key there is no sound & then it will start after 4 or 5 tries. Is it the fuel injector or starter? Keys do not go into the door lock or ignition smoothly. A diagnostic check won't help because it starts fine most of the time. I have had this problem for three months.

Thank you

Kristina Hedley on July 01, 2012:


I'd been having issues with my 1992 Dodge Dakota V8 for a while, especially when I got gas. The truck wouldn't start easily after getting gas, it would take about 3 tries to get it going. I'd have to sit at the gas pump for about 10 minutes before I could get it started.

Anyways, I was talking to several people, had some ideas as to what was wrong with the truck, but this was proven to be wrong yesterday when I wound up going to my mechanic.

While in a parking lot yesterday, the truck refused to start at all. We tried several times, played with the throttle cable, but nothing.

This so called mechanic, who claimed to have several older trucks, he looked at the fuel injectors and stated that the carburetor was bone dry!!!! On a truck that has never had one, and I was told that the other day!

So this bozo dumps fuel into the fuel injectors saying that it was supposed to spew out of the carburetor when I went to start up, but nothing happened.

More fuel was put in to try to get it started before calling a tow truck, big mistake I found out later. When this didn't work, we called for a tow and went to my mechanic.

My mechanic tried to start my truck with no luck either. He told me to try while fiddling around inside. He motioned me out and said that there was no spark in the ignition coil and that he would have to replace it.

When this was done, he told me to start it up. It still wouldn't start. He said to put my foot on the gas and try it again. Heavy plumes of smoke came out of the exhaust pipe and you could smell the fuel burning off.

He told me that this was because of this idiot who insisted that my truck had a carburetor when it didn't.