With that many products out there making huge claims on improving fuel economy, increasing horsepower, cleaning carbon deposits and fuel injectors, finding the best fuel injector cleaner is a hard task.
Are those claims real or just marketing?
In principle, fuel injector cleaners are designed to take harmful carbon deposits off of your engine’s inside. Deposits that may lead to misfire, knocking, less responsive throttle, rough idle, lowered fuel economy and many other problems.
But do they actually work?
Well, we will answer that question in great detail, because as always… it depends. Some do, some don’t.
Because we want you to get your hands only on the best fuel injector cleaner, we’ve tested, analyzed and reviewed well known brands as well as some newcomers to see who performs the best. We will talk about efficiency, cleansing potency, price and what to look for on a fuel injector cleaner to provide with all the information you need to make the right choice.
- Why you should use a fuel injector cleaner
- What to look for on a fuel treatment system
- What is the best fuel injector cleaner?
- Do fuel injector cleaners work?
- When to use fuel injector cleaner?
- Is it dangerous to use too much fuel injector cleaner?
- Final Thoughts
Why you should use a fuel injector cleaner
Fuel injectors atomize the fuel inside the combustion chamber. It mixes with air, gets compressed, then ignited by a spark plug et voila!Power.
The efficiency of that explosion and later combustion will depend on many factors.
One of the most relevants is the proper atomization of the fuel.
Engines are designed for the fuel to be sprayed in a very specific way, direction, quantity and timing. A clogged injector will diffuse the fuel with a different pattern. It may leak, drip or jet. All those things will result in poor combustion, misfires or knocking, reducing engine’s performance or even damaging components (such as the catalytic converter)
Fuel injector cleaners are additives that work manyfold. They mix with your gasoline (or diesel) and get sprayed into the combustion chamber together with the fuel. Most of them are nitrogen based detergents that break down the bonds of carbon deposits and set carbon particles loose.
They also include alcohol to fight moisture accumulations preventing water from freezing in the fuel lines and combining during the combustion so the moisture dissapears (remember, water is the most dangerous agent and can totally destroy your engine).
And finally, they help cleaning the tiny apertures in the fuel injectors to ensure proper atomization of fuel.
A good fuel injector cleaner will get your 18 years & 300.000 miles old truck’s engine as clean as it was the day it got out from the dealership, running smooth and saving you expensive visits to the garage. And that’s what we are here for right? Spend a little to save a ton. Good. Let’s move forward.
What to look for on a fuel treatment system
We are going to focus on two key aspects.
One is efficiency. We don’t want to repeat the process twenty times for our engine to be clean. That costs too much time and money.
The other one is potency. We want to remove as much carbon deposits as possible to recover the lost performance due to undesired deposits. In most cases this will be a “It works” or “It doesn’t”
What is the best fuel injector cleaner?
1. LUCAS FUEL TREATMENT
We rate Lucas Fuel Treatment as the Best Fuel Injector Cleaner… but it is not ONLY a fuel injector cleaner. It is a complete fuel system treatment. Kind of an all-in-one magic potion for your engine’s cauldron…
Now let’s see in detail WHY do we pick Lucas above others like Sea Foam or B-12
Efficiency and Price
Lucas serves this product on gallons. The price for one gallon is quite reduced for what the product does. For instance, to run a full cleaning procedure on a Chevy Silverado with a 26 gallons tank works at just a few dollars since you only need to add 3 ounces of the product for each 10 gallons of fuel.
It is recommended to do several runs of the product to see proper results.
Lucas Fuel Treatment is not the strongest of its kind so you will need to repeat the process several times. This is mainly the reason we recommended the Gallon over the 16oz bottles. However, many customers report strong results after several uses.
Increased Mileage and more stable idle are the two most common reported results.
It works for both Diesel and Gasoline. When used in diesel engines, Lucas Fuel treatment neutralizes the harmful effects of low sulfur diesel, helping you pass smog tests safely.
Conclusion: Lucas Fuel Treatment deserves nº1 by its well-rounded benefits and crazy value for money.
2. SEA FOAM SF16
Sea Foam is our second pick and let’s see why.
Efficiency and Price
Sea Foam prices higher than Lucas but around the average price for this products
You will however not need more than a few uses to notice significant changes and even with the first use, depending on the state of your engine, you will notice the change in response.
Sea Foam is proved to be one of the strongest fuel injector cleaners of the whole market. It is 100% pure petroleum which ensures perfect mixing with your fuel no weird eat-your-fuel-lines kind of troubles produced by fuel injector cleaners that are acetone based (like Berryman’s B-12)
Warning: The application of this treatment is different from most fuel injector cleaners. Watch the following video to see how to apply it and see the cleansing power of this fuel injector cleaner. Again, thanks to ChrisFix for the great work.
Conclusion: Sea Foam is probably the Best Fuel Injector Cleaner in terms of Effectiveness and getting the job done.
3. ROYAL PURPLE MAX CLEAN
Let’s see the bronze medal! The Royal Purple Max Clean Fuel System Cleaner is a 3 in 1 product. It is meant to clean injectors, remove carbon deposits and stabilize fuel. Let’s have a look at the specs.
Efficiency and Price
One bottle serves one tank and we will notice results in just a few uses. If we consider the price, it offers the lowest value for money from our selected fuel injector cleaners.
RP does a great job in cleaning the fuel injectors as well as removing carbon deposits. Let’s see some of the claims made by Royal Purple:
- Improves fuel economy an average of 3.2 percent
- Increases horsepower an average of 2.6 percent
- Reduces hydrocarbon, NOx and CO emissions (on average 12, 13 and 18-percent respectively)
- Prevents rough idle, hesitation and stalling
Conclusion: While not as powerful as Sea Foam, RP does a good job cleaning the engine. However, some of the claims (such as that 2.6% increased Horsepower) we do not believe. And that bring us to our next part of this article.
Do fuel injector cleaners work?
Quick answer: yes they do. At least the few we’ve reviewed. But there are hundreds of fuel injector cleaners.
Some of them are snake oil. A total waste of money. To help you understand the main benefits of the fuel injector cleaners that actually work, check the reality of the 2 most common claims: Increased horsepower and increased MPG.
#1. Increased Horsepower
No additive is going to increase your car’s horsepower. Not even octane additives. We shall provide with a simple explaination:
Horsepower are a measure of Power. Power is torque*rpm. Without a increase of either the torque or the revolutions per minute, there is no increase in Power.
RPM are easy to understand: broom brooom, pedal to floor till revs reach redline. Revolutions per minute.
Torque depends on the mean effective pressure of the expansion gases over the overhead piston surface.
This is defined by the mass of air and fuel that expands during combustion. The bigger the mass, the higher the torque (for the same volume). The ratio air-fuel is either mechanically or electronically controlled and will not increase regardless of what fuel we use, so that mass won’t change.
What happens tho, is that you may RECOVER lost horsepower due to underperforming components.
Clogged fuel lines full of dirty particles won’t feed injectors as good as they should. Dirty injectors will spray in wrong ways leading to bad combustion. Accumulation of carbon deposits will reduce the total volume on the cylinders. And all that, reduces power.
The best fuel injector cleaner will restore the health of those components, giving you your ponies back. But don’t expect your 195hp Civic Si to go to 220hp by using an additive.
#2. Fuel Economy
A good performing engine will do better MPG than an engine that’s performing bad due to old, undermaintained components.
When to use fuel injector cleaner?
While the type of fuel and the age of the car are considerable factors, it’s recommended to use a fuel injector cleaner once every 5,000 miles only. While deposits will accumulate as a result of daily use, they will not form rapidly enough to necessitate regular cleaning. Still, if you notice the signs listed below, it’s time to use your fuel injector cleaner.
Lower Gas Mileage
If your engine does not receive sufficient gasoline for the mixture, it will consume more fuel.
A clogged and dirty fuel injector causes an inefficient fuel distribution, similar to a low-pressure faucet. This can negatively impact engine functionality and fuel economy.
A clogged fuel injector limits its capacity to release fuel to the engine, which creates an unbalanced air-to-fuel ratio.
When this happens, the engine could misfire and shut down.
Fluctuating Tachometer Needle
The tachometer is the gauge that displays the amount of RPM your car produces. If you see an erratic behavior of the needle, one possible explanation is due to the clogged injectors.
The inconsistent fuel flow has a negative effect on the RPM.
Is it dangerous to use too much fuel injector cleaner?
Like in most scenarios, an excess amount won’t do you any good. If you apply a quantity of the cleaner solution than what the manufacturer recommends, the fuel tank lining will sustain damage.
This could wreak havoc on the fuel tank’s functionality. The performance of your vehicle will suffer.
Instead of enhancing your car’s performance, the excessive amount of cleaner will cause various gasoline and engine problems.
Avoid this inconvenience by controlling how much cleaning compound you apply. Always refer to the label if you’re unsure of the amount you need for your car.
Proper maintenance of your engine will ensure that it works as good as new. Using the best fuel injector cleaner will help you recover lost horsepower and get the most out of your car’s engine.