Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Fuel Injector Cleaner

Best fuel injector cleaner

Which fuel injector cleaner brands are best?

Many companies make fuel injector cleaners. Some work really well and others are based on obsolete formulas. I’ll show you what must be in the product to make it qualify as the best fuel injector cleaner.

What are the most effective fuel injector cleaning agents?

The most effective gasoline detergent cleaners include:

polybutene succinimides (PBA)
polyether amines (PEA)
Poly isobutene amine (PIBA)
polyolefin amines
Mannich amines.

The cleaning additives are usually combined with a carrier oil to help form a barrier film on valves and injector ports. Commonly used carrier oils are:

Heavy esters

Many of these cleaners and carrier oils are used in various concentrations in Top Tier fuels. However, they are also effective when used as a “pour-in” gas-tank additive. Both cleaners not dissolve current deposits but also form a protective film on the injector and valves to prevent deposit precursors from forming.

When you buy “pour-in” fuel injector cleaners, look for the cleaning agents and carrier oils listed above.

Top fuel injector cleaner brands that include these most effective cleaners are:

Arranged by highest concentration of the most effective cleaners

Red Line® SI-1 Complete Fuel System Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 30 – 50%
Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus 01154100-5179P Trade secret 25 – 35 %weight
Gumout Regane High Mileage Fuel System Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 10-30%
Gumout Regane Complete Fuel System Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 10-30%
Gumout All-In-One Complete Fuel System Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 10-30%
Lucas Oil 10512 Deep Clean Fuel System Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 10-30%
Royal Purple MAX-CLEAN Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizer POLYOLEFIN ALKYL PHENOL ALKYL AMINE 5.0 – 15.0
Sea Foam Concentrated Fuel Injector Cleaner Polyolefin alkyl phenol alkyl amine 5 – 10%
Gumout One-N-Done Complete Fuel System Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 3-7%
STP® Super Concentrated Fuel Injector Cleaner Polyolefin alkyl phenol alkyl amine 1-5%
Gumout Fuel Injector Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 0.1-1%
Gumout High Mileage Fuel Injector Cleaner POLYETHER AMINE 0.1-1%

According to the manufacturers’ safety data sheets these brands fuel system cleaners do NOT include the above-listed cleaners:

Sea Foam Motor Treatment
These products consist mainly of solvents like Naphtha, Stoddard solvent, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, naphthalene.

If in doubt, search for the cleaner name followed by “SDS” to read the company’s safety data sheet. Scroll down to Section 3 Composition/information on ingredients

GM #88865595 CLEANER, FUEL SYSTEM TREATMENT 12 OZ. (For GASOLINE only engines) or


fuel injector cleaning

GM 88865595 Cleaner

Bottle of Chevron Techron Complete Fuel System cleanerIf you can’t find these cleaners, buy Chevron Techron fuel injector and Chevron Techron Fuel System cleaner at any auto parts store.

Add the cleaner to your gas tank according to the directions on the bottle.

For more information on DIY fuel system cleaning, read this post.

Fuel system cleaning from a shop is usually a scam

Many shops promoting a fuel injector cleaning service or a fuel system service as a preventative procedure. Unless you’re having specific performance issues that have been diagnosed and determined to be caused by a clogged or leaking fuel injector, you really don’t need this service.

Carmakers advise against fuel injector cleaning

In fact, most car makers have issued bulletins warning dealers NOT to offer this service to customers as a preventative measure. GM has issued service bulletin #04-06-04-051E to address this issue. Here’s what GM says about these “wallet flushing” services:

“General Motors is aware that some companies are marketing tools, equipment and programs to support fuel injector cleaning as a preventative maintenance procedure. General Motors does not endorse, support or acknowledge the need for fuel injector cleaning as a preventative maintenance procedure. Fuel injector cleaning is approved only when performed as directed by a published GM driveability or DTC diagnostic service procedure.

Due to variation in fuel quality in different areas of the country, the only preventative maintenance currently endorsed by GM regarding its gasoline engine fuel systems is the addition of GM Fuel System Treatment PLUS added to a tank of fuel at each oil change.

Regular use of a TOP TIER Detergent Gasoline as recommended in the owner’s manual will help prevent the build-up of intake valve and fuel injector deposits. A complete list of TOP TIER fuel retailers can be found at www.toptiergas.com.” GM TSB #04-06-04-051E, Nov. 4, 2016

When fuel injector cleaning is needed

Gasoline may cause deposits on intake valves,

dirty valves

Buildup on the back face of an intake valve

fuel injectors and inside the combustion chamber. These deposits can cause a lack of power, stalling and even a no-start condition as well as reduced fuel economy. If you experience these symptoms AND the shop has performed a diagnosis and determined that the cause is fuel and carbon buildup, THEN a complete fuel system cleaning is warranted.

However, before you agree to spend the $180 for a fuel system cleaning, there are a few things you can try yourself.

©. 2018 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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