After thousands of miles on the road, you might notice a significant drop in your car’s fuel economy. The main cause might just be regular wear and tear, but a more sinister underlying cause of excessive fuel consumption and stalling might be a clogged fuel injector.
Fuel injectors introduce gasoline to your car’s internal combustion engine. Unless your vehicle was built in before the 1980s, your car’s engine will have fuel injection, not carburetors, and require periodic cleaning.
Symptoms of Faulty Fuel Injectors
Several performance-threatening symptoms can occur if you don’t clear your vehicle’s fuel injectors regularly. The most common symptoms of faulty or leaky fuel injectors include starting problems, smoky tailpipes, bucking and surging, poor engine performance, and poor fuel economy.
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What Causes Dirty Fuel Injectors?
Diagnosing dirty fuel injectors is tricky work. Most of the time, the symptoms associated with clogged fuel injectors are identical to those of bad coils and broken spark plugs.
A fuel injector is considered clogged if a buildup of carbon and debris affect it in such a way that it has trouble allowing fuel to flow through. Clogging can occur after driving for several thousands of miles without a tune-up. Unfortunately, if the fuel injectors become clogged, no amount of fuel injector cleaner will suffice; your only option is to remove the fuel injectors and get them professionally cleaned.
Dirty fuel injectors are much more manageable, albeit something that still requires a bit of elbow grease. Fuel injectors can become dirty due to old gasoline (the main cause), a buildup of hydrocarbons, and regular ol’ engine gunk. Dealing with dirty fuel injectors can be done simply by using a high-quality cleaner, but if the dirt and grime ahas reached a level that significantly impacts engine performance, the best thing to do is to remove and clean it manually.
What Is a Fuel Injector Cleaner?
Whatever deposits in your fuel injectors that inhibit the free flow of fuel need to be eliminated. One of the simplest ways of doing so is by using a fuel injector cleaning solution. A fuel injector cleaner works by dissolving whatever buildup there is in your fuel injectors, thus allowing your car’s engine to return to its optimal performance. Theoretically, a fuel injector cleaner should also reduce emissions and improve fuel economy without damaging any of your car’s components.
Does It Actually Work?
The question of whether fuel injector fluid actually works has been debated for quite a long time now. Many argue that the only true way to clean your vehicle’s fuel injectors is by removing it and scrubbing it manually. One side argues that a fuel injector cleaning solution is required to prevent sediment buildup from far-distance traveling and poor-quality gasoline. Others say that, at best, this solution works to prevent and not dissolve any carbon or grease buildup.
Whatever the case, there’s no denying that a fuel injector cleaner does have its purposes. Even as a preventive measure, some off-the-shelf cleaners are worth the investment.
What about Ultrasonic Fuel Injector Cleaning?
One way to practically guarantee perfectly clean fuel injectors every time is with an ultrasonic cleaning system.
This system blasts high-frequency sound waves through whatever fuel injector cleaner you’re using to dissolve buildup and grease. This results in millions of heated bubbles working like brushes to remove anything and everything in its wake.
This system is effective because of its ability to reach even the tiniest nooks and crannies. No speck of dirt is safe from an ultrasonic cleaning system.
The only downside is that purchasing one of these systems can set you back hundreds and even thousands of dollars. If you don’t want to invest that much money into this system, just remember that it’s much easier (and cheaper) to clean your fuel injectors than it is to replace them. Or you can bring them to a pro and have them do it for you. It’s your call.
How to Use Fuel Injector Cleaner
Giving a few milliliters of fuel injector cleaner is extremely easy and requires no special tools. To introduce the cleaner to your vehicle’s fuel injectors, you simply need to pour a certain amount of the liquid into the gas tank. Do this by removing the gas cap, measuring out how many milliliters you need (follow the manufacturer’s instructions), and pour the solution into the gas tank. We told you it was easy.
When to Use Fuel Injector Cleaner
First of all, you need to be sure that any drop in your car’s performance is due to dirty fuel injectors. As we mentioned earlier, diagnosing dirty fuel injectors can be tricky work since it shares many of the same symptoms with other performance-ruining conditions like faulty spark plugs.
After determining that your fuel injectors are indeed dirty and/or on the verge of being clogged, you can safely put the solution into your car’s gasoline tank. However, it’s recommended that you do this when your car is running off of fumes or has a nearly-empty tank of gas. After pouring the solution in, fill up your car’s tank like you normally would. Over time, if your fuel injectors were dirty, you should notice a clear improvement in your car’s performance (better mileage, no starting issues, reduced emissions).
How to Choose the Right Fuel Injector Cleaner
Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine whether a certain brand will work for your car. Even if you read the owner’s manual, more likely than not, there won’t be any indication of what sort of fuel injector cleaner to look for. This means going through a long trial-and-error process using different brands.
The only thing we can say is that you should notice a clear improvement in your car’s performance. If after a few days of trying out a brand of cleaning solution and without any improvement to your car’s performance, either the cleaner isn’t compatible with your vehicle or the product is complete garbage.
Dirty fuel injectors are one of the most common conditions. This simple problem can lead to a high number of different issues, including poor fuel economy and increased emissions. To remove any buildup of debris that’s preventing optimal fuel flow, you can either remove the fuel injectors and clean them or use a fuel injector cleaning solution.
Fuel injector cleaners are an inexpensive product that can help improve the performance of your car’s engine. Just remember that if your car is suffering from clogged fuel injectors, a cleaner won’t do anything other than tickle the carbon deposits.