Fuel injector cleaners are fuel additives designed to clean various kinds of grime deposited on the fuel injectors. These fuel injectors regulate the amount of fuel introduced into the combustion chamber to ensure that as much of the fuel as possible ignites – the core of the power-making process.
Since they are positioned near the intake valves, they are exposed to blow-by heat, carbon, and oil on a regular basis so they can easily get gunked up and perform less well. The knock on effect of this is that the engine will not burn the fuel as cleanly leading to less power, worse economy and the danger of further build-ups of carbon and other deposits.
This is why a good fuel additive is needed to keep your fuel injectors clean and the build-up of deposits to a minimum.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners 2018
There are many brands of fuel system cleaners, but these are our picks of the best fuel injector cleaners you can buy for your vehicle.
You can read more about how they work and the reasons why we have ordered like this later in the article.
Our Top Fuel Injector Cleaner For 2018
Highly Recommended Fuel Injector Cleaner
Best Value Fuel Injector Cleaner for 2018
What Are Fuel Additives and What Do They Do?
When your car runs, it burns fuel. As always when you burn things, it leaves deposits of carbon and other residues. Fuel additives are liquids that you add to your fuel to clean the fuel system out, removing these deposits as well as driving moisture out.
Additives usually contain a variety of cleaning and conditioning agents. I am going to be discussing how it works the active ingredients. Finally, I will be looking at the science to see whether or not those active ingredients do what they claim to do.
One of the main cleansing agents is Polyethylene (PEA) This is a nitrogen-based detergent used to break down the bonds of the carbon deposits so they will come off of whatever they’ve bonded to.
Those particles will then get dissolved by the additive into the fuel. Once this occurs they will pass out through your exhaust with the gases your car expells as it burns gasoline. Once you put the fuel additive in your fuel tank it will mix with your gasoline or diesel. That will then go through your fuel injector and it will clean off the back of your intake valve and then it will go into the combustion chambers to work on the deposits there.
The initial intake stroke makes the combustion chamber incredibly hot. However one of the strengths of Polyethylene is that it doesn’t break down at high temperatures; it remains intact inside the hot combustion chamber so it can still break down these carbon deposits in this high-temperature area, which not all additives can do.
Another common additive is Isopropyl Alcohol. This is for cars that have humidity or condensation build-up and water within the fuel. Typically these are cars that been sitting around for a long time.
There is always some moisture in fuel, but after being left for a time, the water separates out. In these concentrations, the water can stop the fuel igniting. Adding alcohol causes it to mix with the water and then dissolve into the gasoline. Once again this can be burned in the combustion chamber and passes out the exhaust just like the carbon deposits.
Isopropyl Alcohol also prevents the water from freezing, so if you do get water in a fuel line or similar then it’ll prevent that from freezing and possibly splitting the line or joint.
This is all very good in theory but is there any scientific evidence?
Journal of Carbon
Checking scientific journals on whether or not PNA can be used as a valid cleaning agent I found a piece in the Journal of Carbon entitled “Effects of fuel additives on the microstructure of combustion engine deposits”
This article compared base gasoline versus gasoline with PNA added using the American Society For Tests & Materials (ASTM) D6201. This test uses a Ford 2.3 liter engine and you run it for 50 hours to dirty the engine and then 50 hours of cleaning the engine with whatever product you’re testing.
What they discovered was that with the gasoline with PNA there was a 73% reduction of the mass of the intake valve deposit versus the base gasoline.
This means that if you had 200 milligrams after the initial 50 hours, you would expect this to drop down to about 54 milligrams after the 50 hours of running it with the cleaner…pretty impressive!
However what they also found was that there was a 21% increase in the massive deposits on the cylinder heads. They did not explain where these extra deposits came from
It could be from the carbon from the intake valves that had bonded to the cylinder heads, it could be from the PNA itself bonding to the cylinder heads or the PNA could cause more deposits to be formed on the cylinder heads.
Another interesting thing they claimed was the deposit buildup reaches an equilibrium at about 10 000 miles. What this means is that the quantity of carbon deposits forming, versus the amount getting flushed out of the exhaust, is equal once a typical auto has done 10,000 miles.
At this point you will have a steady state of carbon within the engine, so it will not get much worse unless your engine starts running rich.
Journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers
There is also a piece in the Journal of the Society of Automotive Engineers entitled “Evaluation of the Effect of Fuel Composition and Gasoline Additives on Combustion Chamber Deposits”
In this article they compared base gasoline to gas with additives as before, but as well as PEA they also tested PIBA and PNA. In this test they used new cylinder heads and intake valves for each variant, making it more representative of a brand new engine.
They ran the test and then measured the deposit thickness on the heads and the piston to see the effects.
Of the three additives, PNA left the least deposits. However, the deposits left by the gas with no additives was actually the least!
So, Do You Need Fuel Additives?
Our conclusion is that if your engine does have a significant amount of carbon buildup, additives with PNA can be used to help remove that build-up.
However, if your car is new or has a clean engine (typically those that you use every day so they are not sitting for long periods of time) simply using high-quality gasoline should ensure you keep your engine clean and running well. Those cars that are regularly used in heavy traffic may find they benefit from an additive.
How Do You Know If Your Car Needs A Fuel Additive?
If your car is not pulling the way it once did, or it takes a long time to warm up and stop blowing smoke from the exhaust, it may well be that your engine is getting clogged up with carbon deposits.
To be sure, an easy way to check is to get a borescope (you can get these for under $20 that runs on a smartphone or ask a friendly garage) and either remove a spark plug or a fuel injector (if you have an injection engine rather than a carburetor) and take a look inside your engine.
Below is a video showing how to do this and the effects of a good additive, in this case, Sea Foam
What Makes A Good Fuel System Cleaner?
OK, but what makes a good fuel injection cleaner? These are the factors that factors we took into consideration when deciding the best fuel injector cleaner for 2018.
Normally, there are two types of injector cleaners – ones for gasoline and those for diesel engines. The way they work is pretty much the same; it’s just different spots they clean. All the more, there are certain products on the market which are compatible with both systems because they consist of chemicals which will stick directly to dirt, destroy it and won’t get involved in the process of burning. However, you should be very careful because a little mistake can cause a huge harm.
Fuel injector cleaners are very simple to use. You just have to pour the bottle into your tank together with the fuel and you are ready to go. It is recommended to empty the tank, put the cleaner first and then to add the fuel. Like we already said, pouring down a gallon of cleaner won’t fix your broken engine, but if you are stuck with a minor clogging issue, going a little over the dose could be the solution.
According to best fuel injector cleaner reviews, this additive could boost your car’s overall performance. Clean injectors should provide you lower fuel consumption as well as help you lower harmful engine emissions. Probably the most important thing about using these additives is that you do not have to spend a significant amount of money on professional fuel injector cleaning every year – one bottle of cleaner will reduce the chance of a severe breakdown.
Prices differ from brand to brand, but overall, fuel injector cleaners are very affordable. The most expensive ones will cost you around $20. Nevertheless, certain products offer a mixture of various chemicals and other additives and could cost more.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaner Reviews for 2018
Earlier we gave our quick guide to our picks, but now you know the criteria we have used to judge the fuel injector cleaners, let’s delve into the reasons why.
Seafoam SS14 Lube & Cleaner – Best Fuel System Cleaner
Seafoam is a little different in that you use a nozzle to spray it into the intake of wither the fuel injection or carburettor.
So while many fuel additive cleaners are fairly ineffective with direct injection engines, this ensures that the foam gets into the chambers and clears out the injectors as well as the carbon lurking there.
The engine needs to be warm when using it and you will see quite a lot of white smoke as it burns off the foam initially, but once it clears it gave the best results in cleaning out the coke deposits in the engine and does a good job with the injectors too.
BG 44K is, judging by its popularity among the satisfied customers, probably, the most efficient fuel additive injector cleaner on the market. It should clean the scum in the injectors thus make an adequate pressure. What is more, it will clean your tank and your valves as well.
It comes in a can of 11.2 ounces which can treat about 20 liters of gasoline, and it costs around $20. That makes it one of the most expensive fuel additives on this lit, but considering his effectiveness, it is certainly worth that money.
One caveat, in some rare cases BG 44K has been reported to cause an occasional engine misfire. Most engines seem fine with it and it should not cause any harm to your engine. If this does happen, simply switch to one of the others.
Comparing it to other fuel additives, Red Line will not reduce consumption significantly; it will only clean dirt deposit and keep your fuel system immaculate.
Many people with the older cars have claimed that this additive has not shown any improvement. New technology, however, often targets only the newest cars on the market and for that reason you should be very discerning when it comes to buying brand new products.
Judging by some critics, it doesn’t make any difference in fuel consumption economy. What is more, certain people have claimed that their fuel consumption got ever higher after using this product.
If you want to get more miles to the gallon, prevent rough starts and stalling and enjoy overall better performance from your engine, an injector cleaning fuel additive should be your first port of call. But which product will give your engine a superior clean and keep it working better for longer?
Nowadays, there are plenty of fuel injector cleaning products out there on the market and it wasn’t an easy job to separate 5 best ones. You should be aware that all products we have mentioned as well as all other products on the market are not perfect and that each one of them has its downsides.
However, the savings you will make by using one of these in fuel alone should have it pay for itself! Why not flick over there, read a few more reviews and check out whether the deal’s still on? You’ll be amazed at the difference in your car, boat or truck engine’s performance.
We really hope that our review has helped you in choosing the best fuel injector cleaner for you.
- 1 Best Fuel Injector Cleaners 2018
- 2 What Are Fuel Additives and What Do They Do?
- 3 So, Do You Need Fuel Additives?
- 4 What Makes A Good Fuel System Cleaner?
- 5 Best Fuel Injector Cleaner Reviews for 2018
- 6 Closing Thoughts