Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Help A Rough Ride?

You notice that your car is idling a bit rough in the morning, and you wonder what you can do about it. Will fuel injector cleaner help rough idle?

Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Help A Rough Ride 1 Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Help A Rough Ride?

Does Fuel Injector Cleaner Help A Rough Ride?

High-quality fuel injector cleaners can help with the issue of rough idling and other injector issues. Most technicians include them in a fuel system cleaning, which incorporates the addition of a fuel injector cleaner, flushing the fuel system, and replacing the fuel filter. 

Your automobile’s fuel system must run at optimal conditions. When fuel injectors get clogged, or a fuel filter becomes dirty with bits of grime, dirt, and debris, the result can be more than just a rough idle.

A dirty fuel system can lead to stalling, poor fuel economy, power loss, and many other problems. In this article, we will examine fuel injector cleaners’ pros and cons so that you can determine if they are suitable for your vehicle. 

What is a Fuel Injector?

A fuel injector is a small nozzle located inside the cylinders of an internal combustion engine. 

The purpose of the injector is, just as its name implies, to inject and atomize the fuel into each chamber at just the right time. 

As the injector sprays fuel into the chamber, intake valves let air in, and the spark plug ignites the mixture of fuel and air, creating the energy your car needs to power the wheels and drivetrain. 

Why Does a Fuel Injector Get Dirty? 

Most fuel injectors have very narrow points of entry into the combustion chamber, meaning that the fuel is compressed when injected into the space above a rising piston. 

Since most gasoline tends to be dirty (meaning that it carries impurities), these carbon particles can get in the way of the flow of fuel. 

In addition, a corroding gas tank or aged fuel lines can release tiny particles. 

The fuel injectors have trouble passing that grime through into the chamber where the combustion happens. When a particle gets stuck in that narrow opening, only some fuel gets sprayed into the cylinder, affecting the car’s performance. 

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What is Fuel Injector Cleaner?

Fuel injector cleaner is a chemical solution designed to clean and remove deposits of grime and dirt that can get trapped in the fuel system. 

While the formulas vary a bit, most have a couple of active ingredients; polyisobutylene (a detergent) and polyisobutylene amine (which absorbs moisture). 

The cleaner works to loosen debris, while the absorber works to remove water and moisture that might be present. 

How Do I know If I Have Dirty Fuel Injectors?

Several symptoms of dirty fuel injectors can alert a driver to the need for cleaning. 

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Rough idling
  • Stalling
  • Engine failure at red lights/stop signs
  • Knocking or pinging
  • Power loss
  • Increased emissions

When Did Cars Start Using Fuel Injectors?

Fuel injectors made their first appearance in an ICE in the mid-1950s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that they became the mainstay of engine design. 

Before then, cars operated with carburetors which collected the fuel and air mix in a bowl-like apparatus sitting atop the engine. The mixture of air and fuel was sucked into the chambers and ignited. The fuel ports inside the carburetor were responsible for spraying the fuel. 

Carburetors were defective and inefficient components that regularly needed to be dismantled and cleaned. 

In the 1990s, automakers sought ways to make cars more fuel efficient. So they moved the fuel insertion system into a more direct line, hence the name Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI). 

While different manufacturers have different names for the system (Ford calls their system EcoBoost), the principle is the same – getting the gas into the chamber in a way that provides the best optimization of the process. 

How Often Do I Need to Use Fuel Injector Cleaner?

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There is great debate about how often to use fuel injector cleaners. Older cars (1990 – 2000s) have deteriorating fuel systems that are susceptible to dirt in the lines. Owners of these vehicles should have their fuel systems cleaned more regularly. 

What does a Fuel System Cleaning Cost?

While fuel injector cleaner is not expensive, a complete fuel system cleaning will likely cost you between $50 – $100, depending on the repair shop. 

You can add the bottle of cleaner yourself (always follow directions) for about $10 at your local parts supplier. 

Aren’t There Some Types of Gasoline that Carry Fuel Cleaners in Them?

Many gasoline brands claim that their gasoline is filled with grime-busting detergents that will keep your engine running smoother. 

The federal government has standards for the minimum level of detergent that should be added to gasoline, and when an oil company goes above those minimums, they want the world to know. 

For example, Chevron sells gasoline with a Techron additive designed to clean deposits and absorb water so that your engine miraculously runs better than it ever has. 

(While Chevron does a good job, no additive will raise a hacking, coughing engine to life instantly without a thorough cleaning. 

Generally, the amount of cleaner added to the gasoline is minimal, and an owner would need several consecutive tankfuls to see any results.

However, over the life of an automobile, using top-tiered gasoline (not the cheap stuff you’ve been using) can help reduce engine deposits and improve gas performance.

This benefit is why buying your gas from a reputable service station and not from places like Walmart or Kroger is better.

Will A Fuel Injector Cleaner Foul My Spark Plugs?

Generally, a fuel system cleaning will not damage your spark plugs. It is also not likely that an injector cleaner will create damage to the fuel pump or filter, even though it is designed to loosen deposits.  

Key Takeaways

  • Fuel Injector Cleaner can help ease a rough idle.
  • Dirt and grime build up in a fuel system over time, creating blockages
  • The symptoms of clogged fuel injectors are rough idle, stalling, and power loss.
  • Many types of gasoline contain fuel additives designed to help keep carbon deposits at a minimum.

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