Fuel Injector Cleaner

You’re walking down the aisle of your local auto-parts store and you happen to notice the shelf full of fuel-system cleaners. They might be nestled between oil additives and those bottles of goo designed to quiet noisy engines. The packaging looks nice and the price is usually right, but is this stuff a necessary maintenance item or vehicular snake oil?

“That’s a question that I get asked quite frequently,” said a technical service engineer with 3M’s automotive aftermarket division. To concisely answer this query he said, “You’re going to notice some difference, I can almost guarantee it.” This is especially true if you go on a lot of short trips in cold temperatures, driving conditions that can exacerbate the formation of carbon deposits inside an engine, harmful build up that robs your car or truck of performance and fuel economy.

Is Fuel-System Cleaner Necessary?

Fuel is chemically less stable than ever before. This is due, in large part, to the use of ethanol as an octane-boosting ingredient. Over time these can build up in fuel injectors, on the backsides of intake valves and throughout an engine’s combustion chamber. “The result [of this]is loss of engine performance, reduced fuel economy, increased emissions, hard starts, etc.

How Does it Work?

In addition to solvents and other components one of the main ingredients in fuel-system and fuel-injector cleaner is a fancy-sounding chemical called polyetheramine, also referred to as PEA for short. Think of it as oven cleaner or laundry soap. These fuel detergents get down in the deposits, breaking them into “very small particulates” that pass through the engine’s exhaust system.

The Result

The benefits of regularly using these products are numerous. Drivers can expect smoother-running, more powerful-feeling engines; small gains in efficiency are also common. Additionally in engines and fuel systems that contain deposits these cleaners can give drivers smoother idling, enhanced throttle response and reduced cranking time.

Consumers often assume a gradual loss of performance and economy occurs simply because their vehicles get older. This is not necessarily true. A lot of that is attributable to carbon deposits, something that fuel-system cleaners can help to alleviate.

Of course there are plenty of other variables in play. Motorists should always keep up on preventative maintenance items, changing spark plugs, engine oil and air filters as required. Also, owners of newer cars and trucks will likely not notice any benefits when using fuel-system cleaner because carbon deposits won’t have had a chance to form in these factory-fresh engines.


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