Fuel Injector Cleaner: Does it really work?

the_big_hthe_big_h Member Posts: 1,583
edited May 2015 in Honda
I've seen those STP Fuel Injector cleaner commercials quite frequently lately. Has anyone actually used it or similar products, and have seen actual improvement in your car's gas mileage and overall performance?

don't want to dump in my fuel tank something that doesn't work...

See also: Fuel and Oil Additives


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I don't have much confidence in off-the-shelf injection cleaners. I think they are at best *maintenance* strength, that is, they might keep clean injectors clean but won't clean up dirty ones. I'd say STP was a waste of money for anyone who already has a injector problem.

    There are some professional/industrial grade cleaners which are super-nasty and I've used them and they can definitely work (sometimes).
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    Even professional strength BG44k is a maintenance product [just stronger than the rest]. ~~$15 a 12 oz can.

    Injectors can be cleaned [on car] with a rail pressure flush and 30 minutes of idling with BG Injector cleaner pressurized system [usually at a higher rail pressure 50 psi]. ~~$100

    You can remove injectors and send them out for ultrasonic cleaning at $25 EACH plus 2 way freight

    You can replace them for $80-$150 each plus o rings and labor.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I've had luck on let's see...three occasions with a very heavy duty injection cleaner (basically an outlawed product given me by a friend who had it stocked in his shops for years), but it has also failed to work twice as often as that, or more.

    I usually don't mess around if I know the bad injector and just replace it. Problem is you don't know if the rest are going to go, and that gets expensive.
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    Owners bought the gasoline that destroyed the injectors. They chose to live in states where the produce was dispensed. They get to pay for their votes and lack of knowledge.

    Study the failure rates by gasoline regions.

    On a certain V8 the injectors are $155 x 8 + $750 to change........almost no failures in Southeast region, in Arizona/parts of CA [lots of other regions also] they go out every few years.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    What does the gasoline do to them allegedly? It is corrosive or ???
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    The alleged cause is the water in the transport pipes [they use water slugs between batches]and high levels of aromatics and MTBE interact with the ethanol creating new compounds after they sit in storage tanks at tank farms?
    The new compounds attack the coil insulation through the seal.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    and in fact the gasoline is the cooling agent for the coils on injectors. there used to be cases of gasoline dissolving the varnish on the coil windings and causing low-resistance failures of the fuel injectors. those are supposedly behind us now... mostly due to different varnish on the injectors...
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Consumers Report gave high marks to GUNK brand of over-the-counter injector cleaner. I recall the article saying something about the price per ounce of such products not being a reliable guide to strength or effectiveness. I bought a case of it [12 bottles] on sale about three years ago, and just the other day used the last of it. My "fleet" is not suffering injector problems at this time. No further evidence is currently available! (:o]
  • leadfoot4leadfoot4 Member Posts: 593
    $25 each to have injectors cleaned, however last year I sent my Camaro's injectors to Lingenfelter Performance Engineering for a cleaning. They charged $10 each, plus $3 or $4 for a new set of o-rings.
  • vidtechvidtech Member Posts: 212
    I have not had any injector problems either in the past three years.I use quality fuels only.I cannot see how twelve ounces of cleaner added to twenty GALLONS of gas could possibly do anything.Just not strong enough.Save your money and buy good gas w/o alcohol added.The only way to clean injectors is when the chemical is added directly to the fuel rail.
  • scottc8scottc8 Member Posts: 617
    The service advisors at my Lincoln dealer recommended a can of 44k every 10k miles when I first bought my LS. It's not cheap, and it must be pretty strong stuff; they insist the gas tank be at least 3/4 full when it's added. I had some pretty extensive maintenance service done at 60k miles, and asked when the fuel system should be serviced. They replied, never, as long as you keep using this stuff. These guys do all my maintenance, and know I trust them to be straight with me. They could make more money off me by letting me neglect the fuel system and charging me a pile of money to service it later on. Not exactly scientific evidence, but good enough for me. The car has 68k miles, performance and fuel economy are the same as always.

    vidtech, sorry, that argument won't fly. Some chemicals are designed to be used diluted because they are safer that way. Would you say the same thing about hydrochloric acid diluted and sold as muriatic acid?
  • zueslewiszueslewis Member Posts: 2,353
    system from the start would continuing to add cleaner do any good.

    Buying a used car and dropping in fuel injection cleaner is a huge waste - diluted cleaner simply cannot clean dirty injectors.
  • vidtechvidtech Member Posts: 212
    your car has only 68k miles on it.I doubt any serious deposits in your injectors has taken place.Let us know when you get more miles on your vehicle whether your expensive dealer supplied snake oil has benefitted your fuel system.my wheels have 170000 miles on it.never had a dealer touch the fuel system.i always used gasoline without alcohol and there are cleaning agents in the gasoline to begin with.if buying high priced injector cleaner at the dealer makes you sleep better at night then continue using it.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I recollect Consumers Report doing an article on injector cleaners in the not-so-distant past. That was what caused me to buy a case of 12 GUNK brand bottles. That must have been around three years ago.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Because I've owned a lot of fuel injected cars, some with lots of miles on them and I've NEVER had a plugged injector.

    Not that I was aware of anyway.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    but injector cleaner and a toothbrush sure makes the outside shine :(
  • scottc8scottc8 Member Posts: 617
    You could very well be right; luck, or too early to tell. I plan on keeping this car at least 150k miles, so we'll know in a couple more years.

    BTW, what is it about alcohol? We get 10% ethanol in Colo. due to air pollution requirements. The only problems I ever heard about it was that it would loosen the gunk in older cars' tanks and lines and cause problems. Supposedly it's more of a solvent than straight gasoline. Wouldn't that tend to keep things cleaner? Or is that what fouls up the injectors in an older car that hasn't run alcohol blends before?
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    it's widely used, although not universally, even where MTBE is a big mixer for gasoline I would still expect to have some ethanol in the fuel supply.

    now, if you're burning the old lawnmower gas in the car twice a year, that's not going to do you any favors. better to mix it with Sta-Bil at the end of season and leave it for the one-lunger.
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    Generally a power balance test [performed with diagnostic computer] will show if each cylinder is generating the same power at 1200-1500 rpm.
    The variance in the shut off rpm drop tells you if the same amount of fuel is reaching each cylinder.....ultra smooth [as brand new idle] or shakey unmaintained one?

    Really depends on injector type and internal design [pintle, disc, multihole, etc] as to the clogging time and characteristics.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I mentioned that Consumer Report Magazine had stated some time back that GUNK brand of injector cleaner was about as good as they get, among those readily available to the public, and that the GUNK worked well enough to make it recommendable. Since then, I've paid attention when in auto parts places, and I do not see the GUNK brand available anywhere. Does any poster out there still see the product for sale? If so, where?
  • the_big_hthe_big_h Member Posts: 1,583
    I put in a bottle of Chevron's Techron Fuel System cleaner in the tank a couple weeks ago. I am currently running on the first full normal tank of gasoline since the 'cleaner' tank. Gas mileage SEEMS to have picked up a little, idling remained the same, power feels the same.

    I will post gas mileage result after the next refuel...
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