If you’ve noticed that your engine isn’t running as smoothly as it once had, it may be time to give your fuel injector system a bit of attention. The question is though, do fuel injector cleaners work? Using a fuel injector cleaner could be a simple and affordable solution to clean up your fuel system, removing residue that builds up throughout your fuel system and in the fuel lines.
There are some things to remember, as well as some caveats for those who intend to use them. They are great options to investigate if you think your fuel system may be becoming contaminated or sluggish but don’t want to dedicate a day to cleaning the injectors or spend money taking it to a shop.
Your Fuel Injector System
If you’re not familiar with the inner workings of your vehicle, that’s not uncommon. Your fuel injector system includes injectors, a pump, and a fuel filter. These parts work together to send the right combination of air and fuel to your engine.
The fuel system works like this:
- The fuel pump moves gasoline to the fuel injector which atomizes the fuel into an easily combustible form
- The fuel injector sprays the fuel at a specific angle and pressure into the intake manifold
- Inside of the intake manifold, the fuel and air mix together in the optimal ratio
- This combination of fuel and air moves into the combustion chamber where it is compressed until it ignites, which powers your engine
What Are Fuel Injector Cleaners And How Do They Work?
Fuel injector cleaners are products that are used to remove harmful carbon and gum deposits that can damage your vehicle’s engine. These cleaners are available for cars and trucks, as well as motorcycles. These cleaners are added to your vehicle’s gas tank and pass through the carburetor, where the accumulated deposits are loosened up and washed away. The combustion of the engine burns up the deposits and leaves you with a clean fuel system and a vehicle with better gas mileage, idle smoothness, and cleaner emissions.
Fuel Injector Cleaner Ingredients
Fuel injectors are so effective because of the 3 main active ingredients: polyisobutylene, polyisobutylene amine, and polyether amine. When these chemicals are combined, they do a great job at cleaning your system, helping your engine run more smoothly.
Also called PIB, this compound is used in both gasoline and diesel fuel injector cleaners. It is an effective way to remove deposits such as carbon and gum. It also helps prevent motorcycle and car engines from misfiring, in addition to preventing other engine problems.
Polyisobutylene Amine is also known as PIBA. Similar to PIB, PIBA is much more effective at eliminating any moisture that needs to be removed from your fuel system. On its own, it is not a strong enough cleaner to get rid of deposits, which is why we see it in addition to other compounds that remove the gunk better.
Also known as PEA, polyether amine is the most effective ingredient for breaking down tough deposits in the system. When a fuel injector system has a lot of buildup that has been in there for a while, those deposits can be really difficult to remove. If you want those deposits broken down effectively and emoved through the exhaust system, polyether amine ensures your fuel injector system will be residue-free.
How Often Should A Fuel Injector Cleaner Be Used?
One of the best ways to keep your engine running well is keeping the fuel injector system clean, which you can do by using a fuel injector cleaner once every 1,500 to 3,000 miles. An easy way to make sure you keep on top of it is by treating your fuel system anytime you need an oil change.
Many common brands of fuel injector cleaner will also work for carburetors, but carburetor cleaner is not compatible with fuel injectors. This is important to remember to avoid potentially costly repairs and the replacement of damaged injectors.
Additionally, many car owners choose to wait until their vehicle is showing signs that the fuel injector system is dirty. Some of the most common symptoms of this include:
- Engine misfiring or throwing misfire codes
- A rough, uneven, or sputtering idle
- Poor gas mileage that develops suddenly
- RPM is not consistent when constant pressure is applied to the accelerator
- Your vehicle won’t start when your battery and gas are ok
If you start noticing any of these signs, it may be time to grab a bottle of fuel injector cleaner from your local auto shop. Before you know it, your vehicle will be running smoothly again.
Do Fuel Injector Cleaners Work?
In the vast majority of cases, a fuel injector cleaner is a great way to get a quick refresh of your injector nozzles without going through a more intensive cleaning. If it works, you’ll find your vehicle’s performance and operation should smooth out over the next tank of gas or so. Even if it doesn’t work you know that you’ve tried a common solution that may have saved you significant expense and frustration.
The best part is that it will only cost a few bucks to grab a bottle and see if it’s right for you. A fuel injector cleaner is also a great piece of preventative maintenance that can be done as often as you like with no ill effects. Just be sure to follow the instructions for the brand you buy, as many recommend a minimum amount of gas to combine them with to prevent damage to injector nozzles.