Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Really Work? Here's What We Know

We all know that maintaining a vehicle is one of the most valuable things you can spend on to avoid long stints at the shop. Still, there are common shortcuts that almost all gearheads take to postpone some of the more demanding maintenance tasks. Cleaning your injectors is something that service centers recommend you do every 45,000 miles or every few years. There is some sense to these recommendations, too. Whether you drive a top-of-the-line Porsche or an old, clapped-out Toyota Hilux, a clogged injector will cause all sorts of reliability problems for your vehicle, from mild annoyances like poor gas mileage to much more severe issues like rough running and refusal to start. 

Fuel injector services aren't costly, but this preventative maintenance often gets neglected. Makers of automotive additives, like Lucas, Amsoil, and Chevron, claim that their fuel injector cleaners remove the solid buildup in and around the injectors of all vehicles, and they're not entirely wrong. 

How do fuel injector cleaners work, and when should you use them?

Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus is one of the most highly recommended fuel system cleaners on the market, consistently appearing on lists of top fuel injection cleaners. Chevron claims it can maximize fuel economy, restore engine performance, reduce harmful emissions, and improve deposition-related knock in any engine. Fuel injector cleaners usually consist of solvents and detergents that remove and flush out any build-up that might have occurred thanks to lower-quality gas, incomplete combustion, or contaminants getting into the fuel lines. 

According to experts like VP Racing Fuels, fuel injector cleaners work as inexpensive preventative maintenance. What you might see, though, are posts and comments on places like r/AskMechanics on Reddit from people claiming that fuel injector cleaners have previously ruined their gas mileage or even caused engine running issues. This possibility can be caused by the cleaner removing build-up from places like the fuel tank and fuel pump into the fuel system and injectors. In such a case, the fuel injectors would likely need manual cleaning to restore proper operation. According to Techron, the best results come from using injector cleaners once every three months, regardless of your vehicle's make or model. 

Fuel injector cleaners work, but they're only meant to extend fuel system cleaning intervals, not replace the service entirely.