Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Do pour-in fuel injector cleaners work?

Sometimes pour-in fuel injector cleaner works to smooth out a mildly rough idle

But the kind of fuel injector cleaner you pour into your tank isn’t strong enough to clean stubborn clogged fuel injectors. For that you need either a professional fuel injector cleaning or even new injectors.

How pour-in injector cleaner works

The best pour-in style injector cleaners are formulated with polyether amines (PEA) or
Poly isobutene amine (PIBA). Brands like Chevron Techron, RedLine Fuel System Cleaner and Gummout with P.E.A are the top brands and contain the most of these two powerful cleaners. Some of the older cleaners like Seafoam don’t contain any P.E.A. P.I.B.A. or they contain far less than the brands listed above.

PEA and PIBA are used in Top Tier gasoline required by almost all carmakers and they’re designed to prevent and eliminate carbon buildup on fuel injector tips and on the backside of intake valves.

Which cleaners have the most active ingredients? Click here for a list

But back to the question: Do they work?

Short trips and infrequent use can cause carbon deposits to build on the tips of fuel injectors. If the injector is spraying, but the tip is partially clogged, a pour-in injector cleaner can sometimes help remove minor carbon buildup. The same applies to minor carbon buildup on intake valves.

However, if you have serious engine performance issues and the problem has been diagnosed as one or more clogged fuel injectors, pour-in fuel cleaner will most likely not help at all. In those cases, sometimes even a professional fuel injector cleaning can’t solve the problem

What is a professional fuel injection cleaning?

When a shop performs a injector cleaning, they install a

image shoeing OTC Tools (7448A) Fuel Injection Cleaner Canister mounted on the hood of a car

OTC Tools (7448A) Fuel Injection Cleaner Canister

pressurized canister filled with about a quart of powerful cleaner. The shop connects the pressurized canister to the fuel rail and disables the fuel pump. The technician then starts the vehicle and runs the engine on only the fuel cleaner until the engine quits due to lack of fuel. Then they reconnect the fuel plump and take the vehicle for a test drive to see if the cleaning worked.

Professional injector cleaner cannot be poured into the fuel tank because it can damage the plastics and rubber used in the tank.

Should you add a pour-in injector cleaner as part of routine maintenance

If you’re filling your vehicle with Top Tier fuel, you don’t need a fuel injector cleaning additive. However, if you do a lot of short drives, the kind that cause carbon buildup, a fuel injector additive may keep your fuel system cleaner.

©, 2023 Rick Muscoplat


Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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