Best Fuel Injector Cleaners: Top Picks for Peak Performance
Cleaning out your vehicle with fuel injector cleaner can be a great option for you
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON April 23, 2019
We all want our vehicles to perform well and last as long as possible. You might ask yourself, “Should I use fuel injector cleaner?” This debate has a long history, but we find routine fuel cleaning can help perk up your vehicle’s engine. Whether you're a believer in frequent fuel cleaning, or you just want a quick boost in your vehicle’s performance, we’ve put together some great options. Here are our picks for the best fuel system cleaner.
- Best OverallChevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System CleanerSummarySummaryBy far the most popular choice, Chevron offers a great value for such a well-performing fuel cleaner.ProsProsCleans and restores your entire fuel system and works incredibly well with newer vehicles.ConsConsBest results need repeated use; Chevron suggests running it through every 3,000 miles.
- Best ValueLucas 128 Ounces LUC10013 10013 Fuel TreatmentSummarySummaryShoppers who like to buy in bulk will find this to be the perfect option since it is the only fuel injector cleaner sold in a full gallon.ProsProsIts large quantity makes it very cheap per ounce, and it cleans out fuel systems without harsh dissolvents.ConsConsOnly available in a larger quantity makes this more expensive upon purchase and is harder to store.
- Honorable MentionBG 44K Fuel System Cleaner Power EnhancerSummarySummaryThis powerful and aggressive fuel system cleaner is the most popular choice among mechanics.ProsProsIt has the most aggressive formula and only takes one use to achieve results, making it great for occasional maintenance.ConsConsThis cleaner is one of the most expensive options and does not work with diesel engines.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Originally called the Pacific Coast Oil Company, Chevron’s history began in 1879. Since then, it has grown to become one of the largest oil businesses in the world. The highly-admired Techron is one of the best engine cleaner fuel additives available.
Red Line Synthetic Oil began creating lubricants for the racing industry in 1979. The California-based company has since become synonymous with motorsports and producing high-quality products. It makes a top-selling fuel cleaning system with its Red Line (60103) Complete SI-1.
Royal Purple is a Texas-based company well known for its oil products. Its formulators have been around for over 200 years, developing high-performance lubricants. It offers a great fuel system cleaner and stabilizer called Royal Purple Max-Clean 11722.
STP Oil got its start in St. Joseph, Missouri. Since 1954, the company has been producing oil treatments and additives. It rose to national fame thanks to sponsoring Nascar Legend Richard Petty in the 1970s. It offers a great fuel injector cleaner with its popular product STP 78577.
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 dirtbikes.
- $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.
- Over $30: 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 the carbon deposits. Products with this active ingredient are going to quickly and effectively clean out your system for optimal performance.
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.
- 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 Cleaner Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner
Chevron is well known in the automotive industry, and for good reasons. The company has a long history of producing reliable products, and Techron is no different. This fuel system cleaner is designed for a universal fuel injection treatment. It ranks as the best fuel injector cleaner additive mostly due to its patented polyetheramine technology, a formula unique to Chevron.
Knowing that gasoline is littered with impurities, this fuel injection system cleaner helps to remove carbon deposits to restore lost power and performance. Techron is most notable for working incredibly well with newer vehicles, which requires a delicate balance due to modern cars' extensive use of different materials.
That's not to say it's less effective with older vehicles—quite the contrary. This is one of the best fuel injector cleaners for high-mileage vehicles; its aggressive recipe keeps engines clean and running smoothly. Techron is also applicable to diesel vehicles. Users should reference the abundant information Chevron provides to achieve the most significant results.
One of the very few downsides to this fuel cleaner is that it was purposely designed for repeated use which, as a result, means its effects are not long-lasting. The company suggests using a bottle every 3,000 miles or every time you change your oil.
Best Value: Lucas LUC10013 10013 Fuel Treatment
Lucas Fuel Treatment was chosen as our best value simply because it blows the competition away when it comes to price per ounce. This product comes in a remarkable 128-ounce container for roughly the same amount that other gasoline cleaners sell in 20 ounces. Basically, you could still buy a top-rated fuel injector cleaner for just a sixth of the cost.
This gas injector cleaner is formulated to work with both gasoline and diesel engines. Unlike other cleaning systems that use harsh chemicals to dissolve composites, the Lucas formula uses a different approach. The cleaner has a blend of slick oils and additives that essentially work as a detergent, flushing out any unwanted buildups. It also wholly neutralizes the damaging effects of low sulfur diesel fuel. This makes for a safer overall product, which means accidentally using more than the suggested amounts won’t hurt your vehicle.
While Lucas offers one of the best fuel injector cleaners, it isn't without setbacks. Despite being the cheapest per ounce, the additive only comes in large quantities. If someone is looking for a quick and cheap fuel cleaner, this would be less than ideal. Also, the large quantity could make this fuel cleaner harder to store—something to keep in mind if you have limited space.
Honorable Mention: BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner Power Enhancer
The honorable mention for the best complete fuel system cleaner shouldn't be considered any less effective than our other choices. In fact, this fuel additive is actually the most aggressive treatment 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 can simply use the product once and immediately see an improvement.
All the power that comes with BG 44K comes at a price. The price is actually the most significant drawback; this cleaner is one of the most expensive options. In addition, if you're vehicle has proper upkeep, or you use fuel cleaners regularly, this formula is most likely 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.
- 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 fuel injector cleaner increase my car’s gas mileage?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Not at all. As long as you follow the suggested amount and frequency, using different types of cleaners won’t have any adverse reaction.
If you want to see a performance boost, then cleaning out your engine with Chevron’s Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner is the best option.
For people who still want to see good results without spending too much money, Lucas LUC10013 10013 Fuel Treatment has the best value based on price per ounce.