Fuel additives are pretty much what they sound like: a substance you add to your fuel. There are a lot of types of fuel additives at your local auto supply shop, some of which prevent problems while others improve performance. Fuel injector cleaners are an additive that sounds like a great way to keep your engine running smoothly, but do they work? Let’s find out.
But First, What’s A Fuel Injector?
A fuel injector is a small part that regulates how much fuel is sprayed into your car’s engine. In some cars, the fuel is sprayed into the engine’s inlet manifold or port. In other cars, fuel is injected directly into each cylinder.
Regardless of the exact setup, the basic function remains the same: the harder you press on the accelerator, the more fuel enters your engine, and vice versa.
Why Do They Need To Be Cleaned?
Fuel injectors are one of those ‘out of sight, out of mind’ car components. You never really see them, and as long as they’re working correctly, you don’t think about them.
The truth is, fuel injectors sometimes do need to be cleaned. Debris from the fuel system or the fuel itself can accumulate in your fuel injectors. Corrosion in your fuel system can also contribute to debris build-up. When enough carbon and debris deposits have built up, this can influence the efficiency of your vehicle, increase the emissions, and even affect the way your vehicle performs.
So, Do Fuel Injector Cleaners Work?
The idea behind fuel injector cleaners is that you add them to your gas tank, where they dissolve debris and restore your engine’s function to normal. Since fuel injectors cleaners are combustible, they are burnt off with normal engine use, meaning you’ll need to add more cleaner periodically. But do they work?
The short answer: Maybe.
The long answer: There haven’t been any scientific studies definitively proving that fuel injector cleaners work. That said, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that they can help. So, you can always try it and see for yourself.
There’s some debate about how frequently you need to add these cleaners to your engine. Some people suggest that you add a bottle with every fill-up. Others suggest adding a bottle with every oil change, about 3,000 – 5,000 miles depending on your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule.
Ultimately, if you’re set on trying a fuel injector cleaner, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and don’t expect magical results overnight. Just like it takes years for carbon to build up in your engine, it may take a few rounds for the cleaner to take full effect.
How To Prevent Carbon Buildup In Your Engine
There’s an old saying that goes, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. The same goes for your engine – and your fuel injectors. Keeping your engine clean can help prevent carbon buildup and the decreased fuel efficiency and vehicle performance we mentioned earlier.
No, we’re not talking about disassembling your engine and giving every component a detailed cleaning with a toothbrush. All you need to do is purchase high-quality gasoline on a regular basis. You’ll usually see these referred to as ‘top tier’ gasolines. Top tier gasoline contains special additives and detergents in their formula with superior fuel system-cleaning properties.
It’s true that even the best gasoline can still contain some impurities, often picked up from transit or from the fuel holding tanks at the gas station itself. However, your fuel system’s filters should effectively filter these impurities out.
AAA recently conducted a study with an independent laboratory to evaluate, among other questions, whether top tier gasoline is better at preventing deposit build-up in your engine. The answer was an emphatic yes. The study found that non-top tier gasolines caused 19 times more engine deposits than top-tier fuels. You can read the full report here.
So, if you want to keep your engine clean and running great for years to come, make sure to purchase top-tier gasoline with every fill up.
My Fuel Injectors Need Cleaning – Now What?
If you’ve purchased an older or used vehicle, you may have discovered that your fuel injectors are clogged and aren’t operating like they should be. What now? Well, as discussed above, you could try a fuel injector cleaner. But that might take time, and it might not even work at all.
That’s where fuel injector cleaning comes in. For the intrepid, you can purchase a DIY kit and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to restore your engine’s performance and fuel efficiency.
For those of you who would prefer to let the professionals take care of it, T3 Atlanta can help. We’ll assess whether your fuel injectors are causing your engine woes or if something else might be awry and recommend the best solution for you and your vehicle. Give us a call or visit us at one of our two convenient metro Atlanta locations in Smyrna and Decatur for fast and friendly service on your Lexus, Infiniti, Toyota, or Nissan.