Revealed: Unbiased Review of the Best Fuel Injector Cleaners (2020 Edition)
What is the best fuel injector cleaner in the market right now? Read our guide to the best fuel injector cleaner in 2019/2020 before cashing out your money.
You might already know.
Fuel is not what it used to be. Nowadays, oil manufacturers spill gallons of alcohol (ethanol) into what you are supposed to use for your internal combustion engine and vehicle.
That means you are stuck with a substance that leaves substantial residue behind; around the innards of your fuel injectors. But alcohol is just only one of a bunch of culprits you’ll want to flush.
Fossil fuel is obviously not the cleanest energizer out there. That calls for a good fuel injector cleaner after a couple of a thousand miles.
To truly understand the weight of getting only the best fuel injector cleaner in the market right now, we’d need to sit in for a mini fuel injector class 101.
Why Choose Only the Best Fuel Injector Cleaner?
What happens when you munch down a tad too much junk food?
Bad cholesterol piles around the walls of your arteries. That tends to cause high blood pressure as your heart struggles to squeeze blood through the thicket in the arteries—that’s not good.
A good doctor would advise you immediately kickstart on a vigorous physical exercise plan to chunk down the cholesterol—or else you‘d risk having a stroke, probably fatal ouch!
For your internal combustion engine, a lot of gasoline (petrol) and diesel fuels in the market today compares to junk food. As it burns, it deposits gunk, varnish, carbon and some other residue inside the fuel system and injectors.
That residue includes sooty hydrocarbons and ethanol in all brands of fuels (no matter how little). It piles up to clog the tiny nozzles that jet fuel into the combustion chambers of your vehicle’s engine.
The soot and solid deposit does to your fuel system and injectors what bad cholesterol does to your arteries.
As they build up, your car or truck’s engine (the heart) struggles to pump fuel (blood) to the combustion chambers (brain). With time, the blockage usually leads up to a stroke—a snappy bunch of events, actually:
You did not buy a car to hurl it to a junkyard. Choosing the best fuel injector cleaner is a much cheaper, convenient and (smart) preventative measure to curb the carbs and ward of the junkyard.
Not only will it boost your truck or car’s performance, but it’ll also usher in a new lease of life into your engine components. The result: smooth and extensive service.
How Long to Take Before Using A Great Fuel Injector Cleaner to Clean your Fuel System?
Admittedly, most drivers are not sure what fuel injectors are, what they do and why it’s imperative to clean them up regularly (see that look you just shot up).
You’ll want to thoroughly flush out the carb and gunk at least every 3000 miles. In fact, some mechanics recommend using a good fuel injector cleaner for your system with every oil change.
Expert Tip: But we’d recommend a cleanup for every other oil change—especially when using a strong fuel system cleaner.
The best fuel injector cleaners right now (spoiler alert) tend to be quite concentrated. And many fuel injectors were not made to take too much abuse for long runs. That said, a flush with every oil change might be overkill.
But of course, you’ll need to exercise due diligence and ascertain how much abuse your vehicle’s taken over some period of time. Then you can decide whether or not to clean it up regardless of the last time you dissolved out the gunk and varnish.
What to Look Out for When Choosing the Best Fuel Injector Cleaner
- Active Ingredients—Cleaning Potency
Chevron, the gas company, came up with the proprietary formula for arguably the best injector cleaners in the market right now.
The secret component to treasure-hunt in a fuel injector cleaner is polyether amine (PEA)—a formulation pioneered by Chevron in its Techron product.
PEA is the most active ingredient in many top fuel injector cleaners now. So you’ll want to check how much PEA is in your favorite cleaner’s can—the more the better.
Expert Tip: Some marketers claim their solutions contain no PEA. Unfortunately, what they stack into those cans is more kerosene (and a storm of other useless filler stuff) than your engine would not even puke out in one rev.
Well, a decent amount of alcohol is good too. It helps when it combines with water, reaks it down to harmless molecules and guts it out of your vehicle’s emission tailgate. Otherwise, moisture would cause your engine’s components to corrode—which is deadly for most models.
Here’s an easy-to-follow video on fuel injector cleaner active ingredients (without the geeky chemistry and engineering stuff).
- Cost Efficiency
Cleaning gunk is a regular thing, remember?
And not even the best injector cleaners can wipe out the varnish, gunk and what have you, in one fill-up. Yet, repeat cleanups could mean extra maintenance costs that add up fast.
So if you’d find a great cleaner that also perks great value for money, what’s not to like right?
Some of our recommended fuel injector cleaners come in packs (2, 4, 6 cans, or 1-gallon servings) that could potentially save you up to 35% for each can/bottle.
But the best value for money is not necessarily instant pocket change.
Rather, it comes in the form of avoiding painfully expensive engine hiccups, knocks and rip-offs in maintenance costs. So, ultimately, cheaper fuel injector cleaners might not necessarily offer great value for your hard-earned dollars—if they don’t work right.
For example, we have reviewed a number of dual-function cleaners; cleans the fuel injectors and entire fuel system (cylinders, valves, rail and all).
Some cleaners work on both gasoline and diesel engine systems. With others, though, you’d have to buy a different version for each fuel type engine. Choosing the former will save you money, though.
Yet other brands are quite concentrated. You’d need to use only a fewer cans/amounts compared to more dilute options that won't clean up after the gasoline or diesel in say, 2-3 refills.
- Direct vs Indirect Fuel Injector Cleaners
If you do not have much time to take your fuel injectors apart, using a good indirect cleaner (fuel adhesive) might just be what you need.
This applies to you too if you are, well, less mechanically inclined. Simply:
- 1Pop the tank’s cap
- 2Spill the entire bottle’s juice into it (while it’s about 1/8 full)
- 3Then fill in the gasoline or diesel
- 4Swank the ignition and kneed that pedal in to do your bidding. That simple.
- 5The carb should puke out through the exhaust pipe
Indirect fuel injector cleaners are convenient, obviously easy to use, and mix well with most fuel types—that we cannot say of dedicated direct cleaners.
But sometimes you need to clean the fueling system before you have clocked past the 3,000 mark in mileage. And once in a while, you’ll need to take your fuel injectors apart for thorough cleaning.
So, when and how do you diagnose junky fuel injectors?
Check out this DIY clip on how to test for clogged fuel injectors (no need to fully disassemble).
And now, here’s a simple cleaning method to learn if you want to explore how to clean fuel injectors—for yourself or newbie mechanics out there.
Expert Tip: Avoid using electrical tape. It gradually dissolves glue into your injector nozzles, clogging them later—wire shrink wrap instead.
Here’s an alternative way to go about it:
9 Best Fuel Injector Cleaners in the Market Right Now—and Value for Money Too
We now know what fuel injectors really are and why it matters so much to wipe them clean (and on a regular).
Now here’s our hand-picked list of the best fuel injector cleaners for the money in 2020 and beyond.
BG 44K Fuel System Cleaner
Royal Purple 1173 Max Clean
Lubegard 77012 Fuel System Booster Cleaner
Sea Foam sf-16 Motor Treatment
Red Line (60103) Complete SI-1 Fuel System Cleaner
Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment
Chevron 65740 Techron Concentrate Plus
Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment
Marvel MM13R Mystery Oil
Overall Best Fuel Injector Cleaner
Professional-grade, ultra-powerful and thorough, BG’s 44K is our top pick for best fuel injector cleaner on the market right now.
It’s got more PEA concentrate than any other fuel line cleaner here. So expect it to sparkle clean your vehicle’s fuel system if you haven’t cleaned for quite some time. The same case applies if you are cleaning the carb off an old vehicle.
High-performing car owners will love this concoction as well. You know this specialized gunk cleaner is great when luxury and reputable car makers, Porsche and Honda, recommend BG 44K as the only aftermarket fuel injector cleaner to use in their models.
Whether that old car has had multiple major engine patch ups or just a few, the BG 44K works incredibly well in multiple type engines—including ethanol, hybrid and diesel ones. Still, it works exceptionally well with a carburetor and 2-stroke engine, and you can use it on smaller engines too—lawnmowers, AVS, etc.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners for All Engine Types
Here’s a multi-purpose fuel line and injector cleaner that’s also great for use in both diesel and gasoline engines. Also, it doesn't matter whether yours is a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine if you have an alcohol-based (ethanol) fuel source or hybrid engine make.
A can of Royal Purple 1173 Max-Clean penetrates deep into your system and flushes out the gunk eating away at your fuel rail, carburetor, injector valve, and the entire system thoroughly.
It might not be as powerful as the BG 44K, but we’d recommend using it on older vehicles as well. It is also for those that you haven’t scraped the innards for a short stretch.
Would it work? Check out what our friend Chris found out in this video:
While most people do not notice fuel economy benefits with BG 44K, probably because you only fill it once in a while, the positive changes are clear with Royal Blue’s product.
This is a more affordable alternative to both BG 44K and Royal Purple Max-Clean. It is particularly great at cleaning the entire fuel system. But it also kicks to add lubrication to the system’s components, ensuring extended protection and engine performance.
If you are looking to unclog a diesel engine, LubeGuard’s product lubricates your tank’s innards—which would also help to protect against bacteria growth and corrosion over time. Not many fuel system cleaners play out the lubrication part very well, so this is a plus for the 77012 Booster.
More likely than Max-Clean, you’ll notice improvements in smoke emissions, idling, spark plus fouling protection, and fuel economy ramps up with use. You'll also like how it doesn't hurt your vehicle's specialized emissions equipment too.
4. Sea Foam SF-16 Motor Treatment (16 Oz)
Like others in this section, you can use this top-selling fuel line cleaner for multiple purposes, different engines and fuel system components.
Its strength lies in being powerful enough to wipe out the gunk in just days, yet it’s non-abrasive. That means it protects your vehicle’s injector pump, combustion chamber, fuel line, and a bunch of other sensitive components.
Yet, you can use it on smaller engines during lawn care (lawn mowers and snow blowers).
Also, feel free to treat your motor to it every 1200 miles—with every oil change, really. Despite the several fillips required to clean up, it still puffs back value for money compared to how it performs.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners for Gasoline (Petrol) Engines
If it could clean up diesel engines as well as the other injector cleaners above, we’d have ranked it way up. Here’s a top cleaner for your high-performing car.
Each can of Red Line 60103 contains a fantastic amount of PEA (around 50% of the whole thing), making it arguably the most potent fuel injector cleaner substance in the market right now—at least for gasoline engines.
That means it can easily clean varnish, gunk and carb deposits significantly, the first time around. It is particularly great if you need to clean and lubricate your fuel system’s upper cylinder surface—it comes with a premium, synthetic lube for just that.
And you only need to empty a bottle of it into your gasoline tank and rev up the engine. We recommend taking it for a short drive, for best results.
Still, you’ll be hard-pressed to miss out smoke emission, and smooth throttle response it makes too obvious to notice. So if you’ve had your vehicle sitting around idle (even with gas in the tank), you can dissolve ethanol clogs, P around its system without much hassle—pretty impressive.
Star Tron’s top-rated gasoline additive is one of the best fuel injector cleaner alternatives for a bunch of reasons.
First, you can easily add it to your tank for complete engine system clean up. It is aptly made for modern engines—and all the complexities that come with that. So expect it to be ideal for direct-injection engine systems and hybrids.
Source: customer feedback on Amazon
Second, each cleanup helps pump less emission out the tailpipe too. That’ll improve your vehicle’s carbon emission rate. Still, grab it if you need a fuel rail and injector cleaner that is non-abrasive, ensuring long-service for your gasoline engine.
It makes stating smaller engines quite easy as well.
That also means it’ll stabilize fuel while in storage—say in winter when you are not using your vehicle too much, or when you need those sensitive fuel system components galvanized against moisture and subsequent corrosion.
Chevron's pioneering PEA concentrate does more than just clean up your fuel injectors. It is a complete solution for most vehicle’s fuel system cleaning.
Although we would not recommend using it for a diesel engine—it is best formulated to flush the carb accumulating in gasoline engines. But you can use it in practically any older-generation (carburetor) and modern gasoline engine and fuel system.
In fact, Techron performs similarly to Red Line’s cleaner. But if you drive a Chevron fueled car, you might not notice the difference. That is because the company adds the adhesive to their standard oil, so you'd already been running it daily.
This is a great, all-around and affordable fuel injector cleaner. You can use it for practically most fuel system cleaning jobs.
But it is weaker and you’d have to throat down more cans of it to thoroughly clean up goop—especially if you are just cleaning for the first time, or have recently used unreliable, less pure fuels for some time.
We recommend using Lucas treatment for newer vehicles (private cars and light trucks) for these reasons.
That’s not to imply it’s a weak treatment. You can as well use to clean up low-sulfur diesel deposits and leaded gasoline residue—further extending its value-for-money tag.
They offer a 1-gallon treatment serving, so you can buy that and save up to 35% on the cost of buying just one at a time. After all, you’ll need to add it to the tank with every gas fill-up.
Another great option if you are looking for a top fuel injector cleaner at a good bargain—without shopping for brand labels.
Marvel’s Mystery Oil performs great in high temperatures conditions, preventing fuel breakdown hence swooshing your MPG.
Some readers reported using it to successfully clean up the oil chamber as well, but the feedback differs across the board.
Screenshot of an Amazon customer’s feedback
All this, while protecting your fuel system and combustion chamber from corrosive gunk and moisture build-up in humid conditions. It helps by not only cleaning up valve innards, catalytic converters, fuel rail and injectors, combustion chamber, and carburetor but also by lubricating these components.
That helps to prevent valve sticking and can go a long way in ensuring varnish and gum do not build up easily around the inner surfaces of your fuel system. All of it at a good deal, too.
Our top picks for the best fuel injector cleaners round up the most reliable chemicals to use to clean up varnish, carb and other residues out your tailpipe.
We made sure to include both diesel and gasoline types for your choosing. And even the top two budget fuel injector cleaners that actually work in there too.
Yet despite its premium pricing, we’d gladly recommend the BG 44K formula if you need to clean up heavy carb deposits, or have not cleaned up your car for a while but need it to perform as new (well, almost). It is worth the investment.