How to Clean a Dirty Fuel Injector

A clean engine is the key to a well-running vehicle, and periodically you may need to use fuel injector cleaner. Neglecting to use it may result in a gummy buildup, affecting the engine’s performance and cutting down on mileage. There are a number of good-quality injector cleaner products on the market.


How to Clean a Dirty Fuel Injector

You Can Always Do it Yourself

Major oil companies and manufacturers of auto care accessories have their own products to clean the fuel injector. Drivers have the choice of adding it at the pump when getting gas or buying a bottle at their local retailer and taking it home to handle their own injector cleaning. Either way, it’s a simple but important step in taking care of your engine.

  • Chevron puts out its own brand of pre-bottled Techron fuel system cleaner. Chevron with Techron is advertised as helping to improve efficiency, restore lost engine power and prevent engine knocks and pings. It’s designed to clean the car’s chambers, intake valves, ports, and injectors and keep the fuel gauge working properly by coating all metal surfaces. The advantage to handling your injector cleaner work this way is that it’s relatively inexpensive. Buying a bottle or two of Fuel Injector Cleaner online costs just a few bucks, and at a brick and mortar store, it’s even less. The drawback to adding fuel injector this way is that it’s an extra step, compared to simply pumping gas with injector cleaner already added.

Here’s a pretty cool review of the Techron fuel system cleaner by ChrisFix:

  • STP has its own line of six different types of bottled cleaner designed to prevent rough idling, weak acceleration, and stalling. Helpful tips are offered to let drivers know which type of fuel additive they need and how often they need to add it. The gas treatment, fuel injector and carburetor treatment or the octane booster are used at every fill-up. The complete fuel system cleaner or diesel fuel and injector cleaner is used at every oil change. The advantage to these many varieties of the same product, all with a different purpose and usage frequency, is that there is something for everyone. The drawback is that with so many choices it can be confusing to pick just the right Fuel Injector Cleaner.


  • Adding competition to the marketplace, Prestone also sells a bottled synthetic injector cleaning product. The Prestone product is advertised as combining “synthetic detergent technology with the benefit of octane enhancement.” Specifically, it improves acceleration by cleaning dirty fuel injectors. The octane of regular unleaded gas is boosted to help eliminate knocks and pings in the engine. The Prestone brand name is already well-known for its automotive coolant/antifreeze, so an advantage of this product is going with a trusted name in engine care to improve fuel injection. A disadvantage is that to the timid, trying to choose between Prestone and any other injector cleaner brand on the shelf can be confusing. There are several other brand names available. Drivers not accustomed to getting under the hood, getting their hands dirty and doing the job themselves can be put off by the number of products on the shelf.


Consider Fuel Injector Cleaner Kits on the Market

If not a bottled product, an alternative is to buy an entire cleaner kit. For the do-it-yourselfers, there is more than one choice to make here as well. Opinions on the best fuel injector are entirely subjective. The decision on what brand to buy is up to the consumer’s individual preference.

  • Fuel Injector Cleaner – Diagram One product, the 3M fuel system tune up kit, has the bottle consumers are accustomed to seeing, plus a spray can of throttle plate and carburetor cleaner and a can of intake system cleaner. This is advertised as being as easy to use as performing an oil change, and it helps restore power and boost the vehicle’s mileage. For the inexperienced, however, this may not be the right choice. Using the 3M kit requires hand tools. As an aid, an instructional DVD is included with the Fuel Injector Cleaner kit. The 3M product’s biggest pro is the video designed to guide the amateur mechanic through the process. The biggest con is the need to use hand tools to get the job done, instead of simply pouring in a bottle of injector cleaner.
  • The series of Run-Rite Multi-Step fuel system cleaning kits also gets the job done, but is more advanced. Recommended use is annually, or every 15,000 miles. Regular use reduces emissions, improves fuel economy and restores the engine’s performance. Run-Rite comes in two-, three-, and four-step kits designed to remove carbon deposits from combustion chambers, injectors and valves. The advantage is that this fuel system cleaning kit is top of the line and will result in a significantly cleaner fuel injector. The disadvantage – and for backyard mechanics, it’s a big one – is that it’s for professional use only. Garage and car repair facility owners have access to this, but the amateur does not.


Another Option: Engage the Services of a Professional

It’s worth mentioning that drivers who want no part of getting down and dirty under the hood adding fuel injector can have an expert handle the entire process. There are professional ultrasonic fuel injector cleaning services available that charge a set fee per injector. These auto service centers use state of the art equipment to provide flow testing and visual checks of the injectors for leaks and irregular spray patterns. Check with the individual mechanic to find out what they do and don’t do. Some, for example, will service most gasoline-based fuel injectors, including automobile, motorcycle, and marine engines, but not diesel injectors or GM Vortec CPI injector “spider” assemblies.

Whether you choose to do it yourself or have Fuel Injector Cleaner service on your vehicle done professionally, regular maintenance as needed keeps the engine running smoothly. As cars age, they need extra care, and you may find after a few years, your automobile’s engine needs some additional cleaning. Taking care of the engine significantly extends its life.