Car fluids

Best Fuel Injector Cleaners For Your Car

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A typical fuel injector is a metal component of a car’s fuel system that sprays fuel mix and directs it to the burning chamber. Its functionality depends on various factors such as chemical composition of fuel and presence of heavy fractions, alloys, or frozen crystals of ice in it. When those are present, they cause clogging of fuel injectors and forming of coke and gum, and when injector’s outlet gets clogged, it can no longer function properly: from this moment on, fuel is not exactly sprayed, but rather poured into the burning chamber without forming fuel-and-air mixture for productive burning. At the same time injector’s valve gets thinner, thus restricting fuel inflow which may be suspended completely.

car injector assembly
Photo by liveabout.com
new and used injectors
Photo by injectorrx.com

Even with seemingly normal service carbon debris are constantly accumulated, so at least occasionally you’ll have to clean fuel injectors anyways. Depending on what fuel quality you prefer or can afford, it can be contaminated with heavy fractions differently, thus affecting how fast carbon and gum start to condense. If left unattended, contamination causes increase of fuel consumption (which means money spent on gas) and various engine malfunctions (rough idling, surge, hesitation, stalling, and other).

But even with good fuel, injectors need to be cleaned sometimes with special dissolving liquids. There are dozens of various cleaner brands – let’s have a look at what is offered on the market today.

Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus

It’s quite common to think of this brand as of a “#1 solution” for experienced drivers, and as of a “default solution” for newcomers (meaning that, if you don’t know what to start with, you normally start with Chevron). The brand name is widely known, but let’s not rush for it alone – is there something more than that?

We searched for Internet reviews from common customers to see what they think of the cleaner, and were lucky to find some. Several years ago a guy with a nickname “Chris Fix” ran an independent test on his Mazda V6 engine which demonstrated that the product had proved more or less effective with only 2 out of 6 cylinders. This was demonstrated by “before and after” comparison of photo images taken by the micro camera he had stuck in the engine to see what it looked like. General conclusion: not really impressing.

A single test, however, may be not enough, so we found another, more recent example of testing (in 2018) by a different customer. This one went without sticking a camera inside the engine, but in the end it produced positive results. Mileage notably increased, and money was saved – not by an astonishing amount for a single car, but think of total saving for a whole park of autos in case of a big corporation, for example.

With that taken into account, the description on Amazon which highlights presumably great features of this product may be seen as trustworthy. A nice discount of almost 50% on its current price is provided as a bonus. Besides, you’ll need only one bottle per 3000 miles – in other words, one-time application for approximately three gas tanks.

Another big advantage is universality: the dissolvent works well on RVs, motorcycles and boat engines – but sadly, only if they run on gas but not on diesel.

Chevron is a name, no doubt. It might be an optimal choice for starters – those who are looking for at least some guarantees of good quality – and with Chevron they get them, at least in a form of the company’s reputation.

ProsCons
• Famous brand
• Optimal choice
• For starterseconomical
• Does not provide the best performance
LUCAS LUC10013

First of all, why are we cautiously advising this brand for the readers as our choice. To start with, it is obviously a great opportunity to economize: a 1-gallon bottle is almost six time larger than standard containers of the previous cleaner. Even without any price discounts it is possible to save on payments here almost half. According to the description, 3 ounces of the fluid are enough for each 10 gallons of fuel – in other words, the flask is not getting empty really long.

Is it really? Most likely – yes. The product has good reputation and is said to be able to not only to clean your fuel system of debris, but also to revive it. Developers present it not just as a mere liquid to clean fuel injectors, but also as a conditioner capable of providing greater durability to various engine parts (valves, pumps, cylinders, and other). In consequence to intense conditioning and cleaning, you get increased mileage. The treatment solves low sulfur problem and effectively suspends harmful emissions – this goes as a pleasant bonus for those who care about ecology.

As a great advantage in comparison with the previous product, Lucas can do its job with all types of engines, both gasoline and diesel ones. We do, however, advise you to be careful and not to spill it accidently because the liquid leaves stains on surfaces. 

ProsCons
• Fits for all types of engines
• Works as conditioning as well
• Does not last much
Red Line (60103) Complete SI-1

Let’s look at another example of top brands. In various reviews Red Line is frequently called # 2 bestseller – after Chevron, of course. We assigned “solid choice” to the first one, but would still recommend to think of a better alternative in terms of value because it may be the optimal decision for you personally.  

Red Line Company was established in 1979 and since then has been very successful in earning good reputation with its products. Those are distinguished by a unique formula which allows them not only to clean, but also to lubricate engine parts, thus preventing corrosion. Many testers also noted high efficiency because the solution starts to work, as they say, as soon as it is applied. It can also reduce octane number to 2, thus decreasing fuel spending. And last but not least – safety of the engine system even if you use the cleaner regularly.

Its packaging option we would, however, count as a drawback: the flask is small, 15 ounce in volume. It is apparently smaller than Chevron’s dissolvent, although is sold at approximately the same price. On the other hand, because of its high efficiency, your engine will feel great even with a single bottle which can keep engine parts clean of carbon buildup, gum, and other dirt. 

The second big minus is its inability to work with diesel system – please keep that in mind if you have one.

ProsCons
• Famous company
• Unique formula
• Excellent result
• Can’t work with diesel
• Bad packaging
Lucas 10003 Upper Cylinder

Here is another product in the review from the brand we’ve already presented earlier the one which offers greatest value to its purchasers. This time, because of a bit scarce description on Amazon, we needed to check for a review on Daily Motion where common customers share their experience.

The first customer mentioned slight improvements in power, although admitted that he’d made the purchase not precisely for great mileage savings. Another buyer probably did – and he confirmed remarkable increase of mileage even after a short period of use.

The results are quite explainable because the product from a highly esteemed producer does a great job and brings significant improvements to engine performance. In case of yet another buyer mentioned in the review, only this cleaner managed to solve the engine problem indicated by the red light blinking on the panel. The customer had initially failed to fix it even after changing of spark plugs and oil, but thanks to the auto mechanic’s advice, all got back to normal with the treatment.

Similarly to the previous product from the same company, this cleaner effectively solves low sulfur problem – again, taking current ecological issues into account, Lucas is highly recommended for application in case you want your system to pass smog tests easily.

ProsCons
• Suits if your car is about to pass smog test • Not for great mileage savings
STP 78577 Bottles Super Concentrated

A bit confusing thing about this product becomes apparent almost immediately: it is its packaging specifics. There are two 5.25 oz bottles, giving 10.5 oz in total for a price noticeably higher than that in for Chevron’s cleaned. With the company mentioned earlier we already know that its quality runs ahead of reputation – can the same be said about STP and its treatment?

Well, the brand name is at least trusted. The solution is relatively cheap and does a satisfactory job for its price. One bottle is enough for each 21 gallons of fuel, and by the time your fuel tank is empty, the fuel injector should get back to normal – or almost normal.

The description found on Amazon says that the concentrate can dissolve gum, carbon and other dirt on injectors. An obvious minus: only

injectors are mentioned there but no other engine parts which were successfully taken care of by previously reviewed products.

Well, at least that job it does ok even with less phenethylamine and other chemicals in its composition. Some auto fans, however, noticed that remnants of dirt had still remained on injectors after first application, suggesting that another flask would be still needed.

In general, we would call STP a good choice in terms of price-quality, but, again, the packaging choice makes it a bit hard to predict how many times you’ll have to return to the auto store.

ProsCons
• Nice offer for price-quality • Dirt remained on injectors
Liquid Moly 2007 Jectron

One may find it a bit confusing to measure the volume if he or she is used to make calculations in ounces, but this really isn’t that hard: 300 ml is approximately 10 oz. That’s for the container, but what about quality of what’s in there?

Well, here we have a fairly strong cleaner which shows all of its best advantages with old engines and the ones which remained in idle state for a long time. Good thing to know that it is also a really fast working solution which yields first noticeable results already after first 1000 miles (as some reviewers have mentioned). To travel that long, approximately one fuel tank is needed, which means you only have to apply one flask to actually see the difference!

We came upon a review on AutoGuide which had mentioned an interesting fact: this cleaner was tested by the Technical Inspection Association in Germany which is known for its very strict requirements. Presumably, members of the association were satisfied with the safety factor, thus confirming the statement that Moly was safe for oxygen sensors and converters.

What makes it not an ideal choice is its inability to work with engine systems other than gasoline ones.

ProsCons
• Works with any engine systems
• Fast-working solution
• Сould be more expensive
Royal Purple 18000 Max Atomizer

Purple is known as a “royal” color, but is the same true for what it covers inside? We would say “yes” to that, and for more than one good reason.

But first, let’s look at the “dark” side: there are common complaints on “royal-like”, above average prices for the company’s products. Arguably true, but on the other hand, the company’s cleaners are renowned for their performance with all kinds of engines, both new and old ones. This product is not an exception.

What makes the dissolvent even more appealing is the ability to clean well both gasoline and diesel fuel systems. It effectively solves various engine problems, simultaneously improving horsepower and doing that really fast. Performance is driven to a new level which we would call “a truly royal effectiveness”.

The label also mentions stabilization of ethanol contained in fuel – that’s good news for those who care about ecology because this implies remarkable reduction of carbon emissions and nitrogen oxydes.

Getting back to a bit high prices, we would cautiously suggest that it may still be worthy it. One small 6 oz flask costs really not too much, but a big question is how many of those bottles you’ll need. Not at easy guess, so  practical experience is needed to tell the truth.

ProsCons
• Famous label
• Wood result
• Not economical
Motorcraft PM6

We have seen a review of this product on DailyMotion which generally gives good impression. One of the buyers, however, gave a bit confusing description by saying that the cleaner had not damaged the engine. Good to hear that, but was it supposed to at all? We would never recommend anything which may, in theory, do harm to a vehicle.

Another customer saw it as a product for “Ford lovers”. Additional digging helps to find out why: Motorcraft actually belongs to Ford Motor Company, that explains it. According to the commentator, at least with Ford models it has to work well, slightly (but only slightly!) decreasing fuel consumption – or increasing mileage, if you like.

Each of the 12 ounce flasks is exactly two times larger than the one of the “royal” solution reviewed above, but it price stands in one row with premium cleaners. That’s a bit confusion. 

What may possibly scare away an inexperienced purchaser is probably too prominent warning in capital letters written on front of the label: “Aspiration hazard!”, “Fatal if swallowed”. One may think there already were fatal cases of poisoning. We would hardly call it brilliant marketing, but this definitely has to have no effect on the product’s efficiency.

One big question remains, however: how well does it behave with vehicles other than the ones constructed by Ford?

ProsCons
• Big bottle
• Good outcome
• Does not fit Ford vehicles
Berryman 2616 B-12

Berryman Products have a very long history dating back to 1918. Cleaners, however, were added to the company’s product line several decades later, in 1954. Until today, Berryman has remained a very esteemed producers in the industry with over a dozen of various products to satisfy its trusted clients. Just like the person of Waldo B. “Pappy” Berryman who once stood at the very origin of a new great American brand, the company is a real player.

Cleaner is sold in 15 oz flasks – enough for one gas tank to restore lost engine power and increase performance. The dissolvent is not only strong enough for your system to get rid of carbon and gum, but it is also a good lubrication for engine components. According to the description, the brand is also safe for converters and oxygen sensors.

The drawback is that is works only on gasoline engine systems but not on diesel ones. On the other hand, on gasoline motors’ playground it is a fairly universal for all types of vehicles: RVs, motorcycles, scooters, and even boats. This explains remarkably high selling rates and above average ratings of 4.6 out of 5 stars which were assigned to it by almost 8 dozen of voters.

A possible unpleasantness here is that purchasing of another bottle may be needed of you’ve traveled a lot (more than twenty thousand miles) without cleaning the fuel system.

ProsCons
• Perfectly gets rid of carbon and gum • It won’t last long (small bottle)
BG 245 Premium

Here we have a renewed version of BG 244 in a series which has remained famous for more than four decades. To think of, you’ve had to offer high quality products if you managed to survive that long. In this particular case it is true because customers’ satisfaction with this product is close to absolute (as measured by the number of stars).

It is important to remember about certain limitations, though: the product is exclusively tailored for diesel systems, but think of it this way: it is the first cleaner in the review specially designed to work on diesel systems. This means that developers took all of their specifics into account.

The comapny’s products are developed according to a unique “alcohol-free” formula. This means safety for your system, first of all its converters and oxygen sensors (we mentioned the same feature earlier in case of Liquid Moly and Berryman). Plus, people say that this cleaner’s smell is quite bearable, so your odor is safe too.

The solution really does what it is supposed to do with diesel fuel systems, working even in high pressure conditions: cleans it from hard deposits, improves engine performance, and reduces harmful emissions. 

ProsCons
• Works with hard deposits
• Alcohol-free formula
• Could be more expensive

Comparativ table

ProductGradePlusesMinusesNotes
Techron Concentrate Plus
Solid Choice
Esteemed reputation
· Universality
· Price/Quality
· Results may
fall short of expectations
· Not suitable for diesel engines
It’s like a “gold standard”: if you are new with automobiles, you buy it and feel ok for a while – until you find something which suits you even better
Red Line 60103
Best Value
· Safety for your engine!
· Efficient spending of the applicant
· Keeps the octane requirements down to 2 pts.
· Does not work on dieselsA “second best” choice in general - and even an optimal one for those mostly concerned with safety issues and/or money saving
LUCAS LUC10013
Editor’s Choice
· A universal cleaner: works well with gas and diesel engines
· Excellent economizing opportunities
· Extends engine durability
· Truly “nature-friendly”, burns out toxic emissions, solves the low sulfur engine problem
· May leave stains if spilled
· Price may look too high for
quantity you don’t need at the moment
Sounds too good to be true (especially if money and/or ecological motives are in place), but we would give it a chance to prove itself anyways

As one can see, with a great variety goods offered even on the market for such niche products as fuel injector cleaners it is quite easy to get lost. Here are several general tips on how to approach the task if you are new to it:

  • Check for online reviews on the Internet. There are no guarantees they weren’t not paid for by producers themselves, but at least they allow getting the first glance on what is there on the market
  • Check the “big” names first (they usually come first as well). Those are companies with esteemed reputation. Although there is a risk of overpaying a bit for the brand name, solid brands usually come together with good quality – at least you won’t get disappointed. Also, esteemed companies offer discounts for their products.
  • After the first acquaintance with the market it is time to “dig deeper” for a more tailored solution. For example, if your vehicle runs on diesel, Liquid Moly or even BG products may be the choice for engines of that type.
  •  For eco-lovers what matters most is how well cleaners deal with harmful carbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions – if that is the case, Lucas is your “friend”.
  • If you value safety above everything, Red Line may be advised as the optimal choice, no matter how old or new your engine is, and whether it runs on gas, diesel, or maybe spirits