LAST UPDATED: March 19, 2021
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners (Review & Buying Guide) of 2021
Cleaning out your vehicle with fuel injector cleaner can be a great option for you.
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PUBLISHED ON March 19, 2021
It’s no secret that the key to getting your engine to hum like a dream is a smooth combustion system. You can have a ride that looks like it’s straight out of a Fast and Furious film, but without a properly functioning fuel injection system, a sputtering motor will give you away pretty quickly. Most people know about fuel injector cleaners — you’ve probably passed by these fluids in gas stations or hardware stores and wondered how they work. Giving your tired car a boost, it’s a matter of chemically (and physically) adjusting the contents in your fuel tank to provide optimum combustion efficiency.
However, fuel injector maintenance is about more than just a few drops of fluid here and there. If you really want to get a boost, there are fuel injector cleaning aids that can help an older model run much better. Whether you’re polishing up an old junker or want your new ride to really sing, this guide details the best fuel injector cleaners that will get the job done right.
Coming in a set of six, this fuel injector cleaner is designed for older vehicles. Compatible with manufacturer warranties, this cleaner is safe to use and works well.
- Works on rides with more than 75,000 miles
- Helps prevent future build-up
- Reduces overall exhaust emissions
- Clear bottles make contents vulnerable to light
- Each bottle only works for a single fuel injector cleaning
This product cleans fuel injectors and improves fuel injector spray patterns. A 5.25-ounce bottle treats up to 25 gallons.
- Simple to use
- Reduces exhaust emissions
- Boosts overall performance
- Some users don’t notice a difference in fuel economy as product promises
Eliminating water from your system, this chemical formula avoids the use of alcohol to provide safe, consistent results. It works to keep fuel injectors clean and optimize engine performance throughout the year.
- Comes in a set of 12 containers
- Treats up to 21 gallons with a single bottle
- Works with vehicles that have a capless gas setup
- Each bottle works for just one cleaning
- Doesn’t have a very long shelf life
- Comes at a higher price than some other models
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Fuel Injector Cleaner
- Gas mileage. Cleaning out the carbon deposits in your vehicle’s fuel system helps to increase the overall gas mileage of your vehicle. This makes using fuel cleaner great for both the environment and your wallet. It also helps limit wear and tear on the vehicle, resulting in less damage after traveling the same distance.
- Performance. An engine that's caked with deposits has to work harder, which means you aren't getting the best results. Keeping it clean with fuel additives can help achieve the full potential of your vehicle.
- Lower maintenance costs. On its face, this is a controversial statement. Some people will tell you that frequent use of additives will cost you more money in the long run. However, knowing the best fuel cleaner for your situation can lower your vehicle's maintenance cost. The mileage of your car, the type of fuel you use, and how often you use these fuel cleaners are all essential factors in achieving the best results.
- Environmentally friendly. Cleaner combustion is good for more than just your car, it limits pollution put out into the ecosystem. Regular use of fuel injection cleaners can drastically reduce your carbon footprint, especially if you drive every day.
- Can be chemical-free. Contrary to what you may hear, not all fuel injection cleaning systems involve mixing fluid with your gasoline and hitting the road. If you want a deep clean, you can achieve it through the use of modern technology. Though it costs a bit more upfront, it has long-lasting cleaning effects.
Types of Fuel Injector Cleaner
The most common type of fuel system cleaner is a dissolvent. These products generally use polyetheramine to break down carbon composites. Over time, the impurities in the fuel start to build up in your car's injector and combustion chamber. Dissolving the build-up into smaller pieces will allow them to be ejected through the exhaust system. This is why fuel injector cleaner is mixed with your fuel — it lets the formula coat the system and eventually expel the debris.
The much less common type of fuel additive is a detergent. There is a lot of speculation over whether or not these actually help to clean out your fuel system — with most people believing that dissolving is the best option. Detergents work by activating chemicals that will force carbon deposits to slip and slide their way out of the fuel system. The risk of detergents is that, if the formula isn’t of a high enough quality, they can leave behind a residue that can cause issues further down the line. Because of this, detergent is best when used as a part of an overall maintenance plan, in conjunction with other types of injector cleaners.
Usually, this comes in conjunction with a diagnostic set. The fuel injection system is essential to combustion since it is the part that introduces fuel to the combustion engine via injection. If your engine is older, cleaning it with chemicals is like rinsing a mouldy juice bottle with soapy water — it gets some of the gunk out, but leaves a lot behind. The hardware type uses cleaner in conjunction with a current to loosen and eliminate debris. It’s more time-consuming, but the effects are often much better.
A company with roots dating back to World War II, Gumout came to existence with the United States enlisted a Pennsylvania company to remove varnish from its supplies. The flagship product remains on the market to this day, though this brand’s line of formulas has expanded over the last century. One of its most popular selections is the Gumout High-Mileage Fuel Injector Cleaner for its ability to work on older rides.
Though it only hit the market in 2014, Autool has quickly grown into a leading OEM product manufacturer. With roots in Shenzhen, China, this company offers both modified and factory-designed products. Started by vehicle enthusiasts with maintenance expertise, it’s focused on crafting products that make vehicle repairs and upkeep easier. Among its leading offerings is the Autool Automotive Fuel Injector Tester and Cleaning Kit.
Chances are, you’ve seen this brand before (especially since it’s been around since 1954). Acquired by Energizer Holdings in 2018, this STP has been on the market since 1954. Though a lot of time has passed, the formula of, STP, short for Scientifically Treated Petroleum, remains consistent. It continues to be used to prevent system wear, along with other supplies like the STP Water Remover All Season Cleaner.
Fuel Injector Cleaner Pricing
- Under $10: At this price point, you will find very small quantities of fuel cleaner, typically reserved for use with smaller engines like lawnmowers and dirt bikes.
- $10-$30: This is the most common price for one bottle of the best engine cleaner additive. They are usually sold in 12- to 20-ounce containers, but the exact number varies by brand.
- $30 and up: If you see fuel cleaner over $30, it’s most likely not just a single bottle. These can be packs of multiple bottles of the same product or sets of complementary additives that one brand offers.
Generally speaking, the most important ingredient in a fuel cleaner is polyetheramine, or PEA. This is the key component when it comes to chemically dissolving carbon deposits. Products with this active ingredient are going to quickly and effectively clean out your system for optimal performance. Because it chemically interacts directly with the petrol products themselves, it can remove debris by altering its ability to cling together on a molecular level.
As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There’s also more than one way to clean your fuel injector system. Instead of relying solely on chemicals, many fuel injector cleaners come with a device that connects to your car battery. It sends a pulse through the solenoid valve which lets you diagnose issues. It also helps physically jar the debris and clean out the system that way. As with the chemical approach, the debris gets expelled through the exhaust.
In order to perform its job, the active chemical needs other ingredients to suspend it, ensure that it doesn’t interact with the container, and catalyze the reaction. In addition to PEA, there are other ingredients including polyisobutylene and polyisobutylene amine. All three are combustible solvents. Other chemicals in the formula include solvent, taking up between 15 and 40 percent of the overall weight. Water-treated distillates account for the bulk of the formula, used to suspend the active ingredients.
Something that may help in terms of actually pouring fuel cleaner into your car is the container and size it comes in. While buying in bulk can save you money, it can be a hassle to measure out the proper amounts, which is why some containers are made to be used all at once with a full tank of gas. These smaller bottles eliminate the need for measuring cups and usually have an easy-pour spout.
- Frequency. The frequency of use depends on several factors. While it's important to consider the product's suggestion and mechanic’s advice, it mostly depends on your individual vehicle. How your car performs and reacts to fuel cleaner is very important when deciding when to use it.
- Driving Conditions. If you live in colder climates or often find yourself stuck in traffic, your car may be subject to more carbon buildup. These conditions are less friendly to a vehicle’s fuel system and may require you to use cleaners more often.
- Fuel Quality. Another disputed claim about fuel systems is whether or not using regular gas or premium gas is better. Ignoring the price factor, using regular gas is a worse option in terms of purity. So if you often use cheaper fuel, then using fuel cleaner could significantly improve your driving experience.
- Time Constraints. Filling up your tank and adding in a fuel injector cleaner might take less time, but it won’t deep clean like a hardware system that distributes an electrical pulse. Consider doing a more comprehensive cleaning occasionally to improve your overall fuel system and reduce the frequency of necessary treatments.
- Mileage. Overall, the manufacturing year of your car isn't a big determining factor in whether or not your fuel system will have more carbon buildup. The mileage of your vehicle, however, matters a lot. The more miles you drive without cleaning your car’s fuel system, the more time that impurities have to build up.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Whether you just bought an older car to fix up in your spare time or want to make your new model sing, Gumout High-Mileage Fuel Injector Cleaner is a good place to start. This chemical fuel injector cleaning system comes in a set of six, with each container holding 6 ounces of the formula. Designed to tackle carbon deposits on weathered vehicles, this formula is built to work on engines with more than 75,000 miles on them.
Don’t let that deter you if you’ve got a newer model, though. It just makes the results that much more powerful. This cleaner effectively corrodes the carbon that’s caked onto the fuel injection system. It’s safe to use with the oxygen sensors in super and turbocharged vehicles; and, due to its quality manufacturing, won’t void OEM contracts. So, if you’re looking to improve your engine without investing in shop time, this fuel injector cleaner is a solid choice overall.
Keep in mind that each bottle works for a single treatment. It comes with six, but they are in clear containers which exposes the contents to light. Store them in a dark place to avoid shortening the shelf life.
The Sea Foam IC5 Fuel Injector Cleaner is an excellent choice because it's affordable and simple to use. It's designed to clean fuel injectors and improve injector spray patterns, which increase engine performance. The product can be used in all types of gasoline fuel injection engines. It restores fuel economy, reduces exhaust emissions, and lubricates upper cylinders.
IC5 is available in a concentrated 5.25-ounce bottle and treats up to 25 gallons. It even works on capless tanks. When used regularly, IC5 can boost performance by preventing hard starts, rough idling, and hesitations. Users report that their vehicles drive noticeably smoother after using this product. Overall, it does a good job of cleaning the fuel injectors and the entire fuel system.
Some people, however, don't notice a significant difference in fuel economy after using IC5.
This complete fuel system cleaner shouldn't be considered any less effective than our other choices. In fact, this fuel additive is one of the most aggressive treatments on our list. Its powerful formula and impressive results often make BG 44K a favorite among mechanics. For someone looking to keep their engine clean without worrying about repeated use, this system cleaner is your best answer.
BG 44K produces some of the most noticeable results after one use. Drivers who notice their vehicle underperforming use this product one time and often see an immediate improvement.
If you're vehicle has proper upkeep, or you use fuel cleaners regularly, this formula may be too strong to be used with your car. Another shortcoming is that this product is only designed to work with gasoline-powered vehicles. So, if you own a diesel, this cannot be used with your car.
The Red Line Complete SI-1 Fuel System Cleaner is designed to clean fuel systems and prevent corrosion from occurring. Using SI-1 ensures a long life and improved operation of your gas-powered engine. This product contains synthetic upper cylinder lubricant and cleans injectors, carburetors, valve and combustion chamber deposits using high-temp and low-temp detergents.
It can tackle all types of fuel injectors, including GDI, and can be used with oxygenated fuel. You can also use it safely on a regular basis. The SI-1 boosts fuel stability, keeps gum and varnish from forming, and cleans pollution control valves.
One bottle per tank provides almost 100 percent efficiency and effectively cleans your fuel system. While this product is a little more expensive than some of its competitors, it is one of the best fuel system cleaners available.
The Liqui Moly 2007 Jectron Gasoline Fuel Injection Cleaner removes carbon deposits from injection and inlet valves, fuel pipes, and fuel distributors, and it's ideal for engines with catalytic converters. It's an excellent inexpensive product to use on older, sluggish vehicles. Jectron stops starting problems, hesitation, and stalling and promotes smoother idling and better throttle response.
It is a low-pollution product that promotes environmentally sound combustion. Jectron also works to reduce fuel consumption and restore an engine's original performance by using accurate injector dosing and fuel atomization. Some users report they can actually hear a difference when the cleaner hits the combustion chambers.
Overall, the engine should feel more responsive, stronger, and quieter after using this product. Some users, however, don't notice a difference in mileage after using it.
The Chevron Techron Fuel Injection Cleaner is compatible with carbureted or fuel injected spark ignition engines. You can safely use it every 1,000 miles and on vehicles with catalytic converters and oxygen sensors. This product restores lost fuel economy and removes water to prevent gas line freeze.
Users report that provides an increase in horsepower, makes the engine run much more smoothly, and improves the idle. It tackles carbon deposits and can slightly improve fuel economy. It's also easy to use as the container's neck fits down the fuel filler neck, and it’s a great option for vehicles with high mileage.
However, not all users notice a change in fuel economy after using this product. Also, it is not recommended for air-cooled, two-stroke engines.
Want something that is going to last and work on all of your vehicles? Consider the OTC Tools Fuel Injector Cleaner Canister. It is meant to project the cleaner directly at the fuel rail, giving you the benefit of precise cleaning of the injection system. It loosens debris inside the system which then combusts and ultimately flows through the car’s exhaust system.
Since the canister itself is made out of high-grade stainless steel, it isn’t vulnerable to rust and will keep working over the long term. It can hold 22 ounces of contents and deal with pressures as high as 30,000 pounds per square inch. With a well-structured cap, you can easily mix chemicals without risking spills or leaks. Potent and reliable, this fuel injection cleaning setup is suited to both personal and commercial applications.
It warrants a mention that this item is the cleaning canister (not the actual cleaner) and requires a separate chemical to spray. Designed to enhance the effects of the injector cleaner, you can use it repeatedly and on all your different rides.
- There are significant signs to look out for to know whether or not you need fuel injector cleaner. If your vehicle has trouble starting, sounds rough when idling, or begins to lose fuel economy, then a good cleaning would definitely help.
- Make sure to follow the company's guidelines on the usage of fuel cleaner. Not using enough of the product may not achieve the best results and using too much can have a negative effect on your vehicle's overall performance.
- If you own a diesel vehicle, make sure the fuel cleaner you buy will work on diesel fuel systems. Reading the product description will tell you if a cleaner is for gasoline and diesel engines or just gasoline engines.
- Depending on the amount of buildup your vehicle has, it may take more than one use to start seeing the additives' effects. Our suggested products have the best injector cleaner reviews in terms of seeing results fast.
- Be sure to store fuel injection cleaner in a safe and secure place. Since these are aggressive chemicals, they are tough to clean up—especially from your car's interior.
Q: Will using a fuel injector cleaner increase my car’s gas mileage?
Yes, fuel injector cleaners are made to get rid of the excess build up of impurities that are found throughout your fuel system. Clearing this debris will allow the engine to work more efficiently and reduce fuel consumption.
Q: Can I use an old bottle of fuel cleaner that’s been sitting in my garage?
First, it’s important to check the container to ensure it has not been damaged or compromised in any way. If the fuel cleaner has been sealed and kept in a dry climate, the product shouldn’t expire or separate.
Q: Can I use fuel cleaner with a turbocharged engine?
Yes, these fuel cleaners are designed to keep any gasoline engine clean and running at optimal performance.
Q: If I previously used another fuel cleaner, will it hurt my engine to switch to a different brand?
Not at all. As long as you follow the suggested amount and frequency, using different types of cleaners won’t have any adverse reaction.
So, now you know the art and science behind finding the best fuel injector cleaners around. Maybe you’ve got an older ride and want the Gumout High-Mileage Fuel Injector Cleaner or want to save a few bucks in the long term with our value pick, the Sea Foam IC5 Fuel Injector Cleaner. Wherever the road takes you, there’s a fuel injector cleaner to help your engine hum.