Now with all the hullaballoo online attesting to the capability of fuel injector cleaners to actually clean versus the placebo effect it brings to the vehicle owner, I decided to place my two cents in. As a car owner myself, I had been faced with the question: does fuel injector cleaner work? And I based my answer on the effects of certain products on my 2002 Subaru WRX.
Why you need to clean them
First it is important to understand the inner workings of your own vehicle. Phasing out carburettors and port injectors, newer car models have direct gasoline injection systems installed in the combustions chamber. Over time, carbon deposits from poor quality petrol and ethanol blends develop within the system including the injectors and the combustion chamber. As the engine heats up and cools down continuously, accumulated debris is often baked into a rock hard solid.
Another huge disadvantage of these carbon deposits are their sponge-like characteristic that absorbs petrol, thus; compromising both performance and petrol economy. When nozzles at the injectors are clogged, this affects volume and spray pattern. Instead of the ideal atomized mist, benzine is released in denser droplets that are susceptible to carbon build-up in the combustion chamber. This leads to pre-combustion, engine pinging and knocking, increased emissions and an overall decrease in the vehicle’s power.
Does fuel injector cleaner work? Tips in choosing the right one
Even with using Top Tier petrol, my Subaru was experiencing a few ailments. I noticed a lack of power especially during acceleration and it was even losing miles. So before purchasing anything that might be considered as snake oil, here are a few factors to consider:
- Ratio of cleaning agents
Always check the fine print on the label and keep an eye out for ingredients. Normally, cleaners are a mixture of cleaning agents and other substances such as lubricants. Choose a product that has a higher ratio of cleaning agents over other ingredients in the blend.
- Nitrogen-based detergents
The most effective and most potent cleaning agent are nitrogen-based detergent. Any cleaner that doesn’t sport this ingredient in its list is not worth your money. There are three common agents that you should look out for, namely, polyisobutene or PIB, polyisobutylene amine or PIBA and polyetheramine or PEA. From experience, polyether amine is the strongest component and can really dredge a filthy system.
With the variations of instructions of use in each product, it can be confusing which to choose. I go for the cleaners with the higher concentration (usually of PEA). These require fewer treatments at every 3,000 -10,000 miles when I know for sure that my injectors need to be dredged. I save more money compared to cheaper cleaners that require treatment per refill (that’s a can at every full tank).
Overall, my Subaru has tried Lucas and Redline and I have been satisfied with their results so far. More than the deep clean these products provide and their ease of use, I’ve found that they carry extra features as well. With lubricating properties, the internal fuel system is safe from rust and future carbon build-up. Keep in mind when asking the question, does fuel injector cleaner work? It is a matter of matching the right product to deal specifically with a problem.