Do Fuel System Cleaners Actually Work?

If you’re wondering if fuel system cleaners are worth your hard-earned money, you came to the right place. Here, you’ll learn everything you ever needed to know about fuel system cleaners so you can make an educated decision on whether to use one on your car.

What Do Fuel System Cleaners Do?

The law requires gasoline to contain detergents to prevent carbon deposits and other gunk from building up in the fuel system, especially the fuel injectors. However, not all brands are created equal. Some cheap brands only use the bare minimum amount required by the EPA, and it’s not enough to keep your fuel injectors thoroughly clean.

Even if you only fill up your car with top-tier fuel brands, gunk will still build up in fuel injectors, intake valves, and the engine’s combustion chamber over time. This reduces your fuel economy, affects your car’s performance, and increases your emissions.

System cleaners

Photo credit: Media272

Fuel system cleaners take over and clean out the crud gas detergents can’t. If you don’t clean out your engine on a regular basis, build up will get worse and stick around forever.

Symptoms of Clogged Fuel Injectors

If your car exhibits any of the following symptoms, a fuel system cleaning is in order:

  • Rough idle
  • Poor acceleration
  • Decreased fuel economy
  • Stalling
  • High emissions levels

There are two ways to clean your fuel system:

  1. Pour a bottle of fuel system cleaner into a full tank of gas once or twice a year
  2. Have your fuel injectors physically cleaned at your local shop

Obviously, a fuel system cleaner is the easier and cheaper option, but does it actually work? In most cases, yes.

How Fuel System Cleaners Work

Fuel system cleaners contain a chemical called polyetheramine, which gets into the deposits and breaks down the gunk into small particles. Then the particles exit the fuel system through the engine’s exhaust system.

Also, polyetheramine does a better job protecting the fuel system from future build-ups than the detergents in gasoline ever can. It’s not to say that there will be no future build-up whatsoever; it just slows down the process. That’s why we recommend using fuel system cleaners on your car once or twice a year.

Injectors work

How fuel injectors work, via WikipedianProlific

Advantages of Using Fuel System Cleaners

  • Restored engine performance
  • Enhanced throttle response
  • Increased fuel economy
  • Minimized engine knocking

Disadvantages of Using Fuel System Cleaners

  • Temporarily increased emissions
  • Fuel system cleaners can’t thoroughly clean the system; stubborn deposits must be physically scrubbed out

Fuel System Maintenance Tips

Prevention is key. If you maintain your fuel system, the chances of needing a fuel system cleaner are lower. While they won't hurt your car, a properly maintained fuel system is your best bet:

  • Only fill your vehicle with quality gasoline from a reputable brand
  • Change your spark plugs, engine oil, and air filters as required by the owner’s manual
  • Have a professional clean your entire fuel system every 15k miles or so
  • Make sure your fuel tank filter is changed on a regular basis

Do you use fuel system cleaners on your car? Why or why not? Let us know on Facebook. We'd love to hear from you!