Fuel injectors have been around since the 1950s, but it’s only in recent years that they’ve come into their own. They’re now built into most new vehicles by default. A new generation of speed freaks and car enthusiasts have taken it a step further, customizing their setup with high-tech injectors to make the most of their vehicles’ performance.
There’s only one problem: fuel is never perfectly pure.
That’s why we’re here to share the best fuel injector cleaners that money can buy. Every time you fill up your car, you’re introducing potential pollutants which can stop your fuel injector from firing on all cylinders.
Enter fuel injector cleaners – special serums and high-tech formulas that are designed to remove the build-ups that impure fuels leave behind in your gas tank. But not everyone agrees on whether you should use them at all.
Should you use fuel injector cleaner?
Some people say you should use fuel injector cleaner every time you refuel your vehicle. Other people say you should use it every time you change your oil, and others still say once a year is good enough. Some people go so far as to say that you shouldn’t use it at all.
As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Like we said, fuel is never perfectly pure. That means that there will always be contaminants, and these contaminants can build up over time and start to cause problems.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners 2018
We know that it isn’t always easy to make a decision, which is why we’ve done the hard work for you.
We’ve taken the time to trawl through some of the most reputable sites on the net – as well as hundreds of user reviews – to find out which fuel injector cleaners are the best, as well as which offer the best value for money.
Fuel injector cleaners work in different ways depending upon their formulation, and they have a wide variety of different features and specialties. Some promise to improve your fuel consumption whilst others claim to reduce rattling or to clean out your pipes so that your fuel injector is more responsive, delivering a smoother ride.
In this article, we’ll share ten of the best fuel injector cleaners for 2018 and explain why you might want to use them and what they’re best for.
Are you ready? Put your foot on the gas pedal and let’s go.
|Model||Bottle Size||Diesel Compatible||Gasoline Compatible||Shop|
|1. Sea Foam SF-16 Motor Treatment||16 oz||Yes||Yes||Check Price|
|2. Royal Purple 11722 Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizer||20 oz||Yes||Yes||Check Price|
|3. Chevron 65740 Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner||20 oz||Yes||Yes||Check Price|
|4. Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment – Gas Formula||8 oz||No||Yes||Check Price|
|5. Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment||128 oz||Yes||Yes||Check Price|
|6. Liqui Moly 2007 Jectron Gasoline Fuel Injection Cleaner||10.5 oz||No||Yes||Check Price|
|7. ISO-HEET 28202 Premium Fuel-Line Antifreeze Water Remover and Injector Cleaner||12 oz||Yes||Yes||Check Price|
|8. Berryman 0116 B-12 Chemtool Carburetor/Fuel Treatment and Injector Cleaner||15 oz||No||Yes||Check Price|
|9. Hot Shot’s Secret P040432Z Diesel Extreme Clean and Boost||32 oz||Yes||No||Check Price|
|10. Lubegard 77012 Fuel System Booster Cleaner||16 oz||Yes||Yes||Check Price|
1. Sea Foam SF-16 Motor Treatment – Removes deposits and boosts performance
Sea Foam has over 70 years of heritage on its side, and thousands of people swear by it. The company makes a range of different products for fine-tuning your vehicle, but it’s their motor treatment range that has made their reputation.
SF-16 is designed from the ground up to be easy to use and to apply, which means that you don’t have to be a mechanic to use it. Some people doubt its efficacy, but Sea Foam fans will tell you that it really does work – even if they don’t always know why.
One reviewer, Rachel H, said: “Honestly, I can’t tell you what is in this, or what it does mechanically, but I purchase it because my friend (that works on cars) told me he swears by it.”
That’s a common story for Sea Foam. It’s a closely guarded secret amongst mechanics and car aficionados, but it really does work. Here’s how:
Better still, it’s safe and easy to use, and one can of Sea Foam SF-16 can treat 16 quarts of oil, enough for two treatments for most vehicles. Some users recommend using half a bottle 500-1,000 miles before your next oil change and then cleaning the system again after you change the oil. That way, the first application removes all of the build-up and the second treatment helps to stop it from coming back again.
Sea Foam isn’t just for cars, although that’s where it tends to be most effective. Bikers swear by it too, especially when taking a motorbike out of storage after a long, cold winter. So do truck drivers, particularly after their vehicle hits the 200,000 mile mark.
One reviewer swears by it for his snow blower, explaining, “It’s not snake oil and it’s not a secret ingredient. It’s just a formula of common chemicals in the right amounts that works like a charm on internal combustion engines.”
2. Royal Purple 11722 Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizer – Boosts fuel economy for old and new engines
Royal Purple is an all-American company that’s known for producing lubricants and cleaners that are used by amateurs and professionals alike.
They’re also the official lubricant for Lingenfelter Performance Engineering (LPE), a company which specializes in high-performance modifications for everything from Camaros and Firebirds to Hummers and Dodge Vipers. Think Pimp My Ride, but for engines and fuel injection systems.
Named because a customer said he’d never seen purple oil, Royal Purple makes a whole range of products for car aficionados, but it’s their Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner that will really make a difference to your car’s performance.
The cleaner uses a 3-in-1 fuel addictive and promises to improve fuel economy by 3.2% and horsepower by 2.6% for the average customer.
It also helps to reduce hydrocarbon, NOx and CO emissions, which means you can reduce your impact on the environment while simultaneously treating your car to an internal makeover. Better still, it can also give you a smoother ride, cutting down on stalling and rattling engines so that your car purrs like a kitten when you gun the ignition.
It’s also easy to use – you simply add it to your gas tank before you fill it up. And, if you have a smaller engine, you can adjust the amount that you use as long as the ratio stays the same. That means it should theoretically work in any vehicle that uses a combustion engine, although it’s always best to check with the manufacturer before you use it.
Some people use Royal Purple as a preventative measure, while others use it as a miracle cure. Ultimately, it’s designed to get the best possible performance out of your vehicle, and you should only need to use it every 10,000 miles or so.
Royal Purple’s Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner is so good at what it does that NAPA – the National Auto Parts Association – listed twice-annual usage of Mac-Clean as one of their “10 overlooked services that can extend the life of your vehicle”.
Reviews for the cleaner are largely positive, with many praising its effects on their fuel usage. One reviewer said that his 2012 Chevy Sonic went from a steady 25.6 MPG (miles per gallon) up to 29.1 MPG two weeks later, an increase of almost 15%. With returns like that, it’ll pay for itself.
3. Chevron 65740 Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner – General use in any combustion engine
Chevron’s cleaner earned its high ranking because of its consistent performance and its popularity amongst users.
If you’re new to the market and you want to use a product that will hold your hand and guide you through the process, this is the fuel injector cleaner for you.
Chevron cares about its customers and provides plenty of information on how to get the best possible performance from the product. Better still, its users are more than happy to share tips and advice of their own, with a mini community springing up around it.
In particular, Chevron recommends using Techron every 3,000 miles for cars and trucks. They add that you can also use it every time you change the oil. For other gasoline engines – such as motorcycles, dirt bikes, boats, ATVs, RVs and more – it’s good enough to use it as and when it’s needed.
In case you’re wondering, the cleaner is safe to use in all ethanol fuels. It’s not necessarily as harmful as some of the other cleaners, but you’ll still want to be careful where you leave it lying around.
It’s also notable for working well with newer cars. The formulation is designed to work with new advances in engine design – including hybrid and direct injection spark ignition technologies – to make new cars run like clockwork for years to come. Even microscopic amounts of engine deposits can hinder your vehicle’s performance, which is why Techron works molecule by molecule to remove build-up and to prevent future deposit formation.
Ultimately, Techron is one of the best products if you’re looking for a single clean, but its effects don’t last as long as some other products on the market. For its price, it’s a pretty shrewd choice – especially because it comes in a reasonably large 20 oz. bottle – but it doesn’t quite have the heritage or the proven success over time that our top two have to offer.
4. Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment – Gas Formula – Good for long-term performance
Star Tron’s fuel injector cleaner deserves its rank because of how long the effects can last. While some cleaners, such as Lubegard 77012, last for as little as 3,000 miles, Star Tron’s treatment is said to last for up to two years.
Unfortunately, this news will only be great for gasoline cars as diesel cars can’t use this cleaner. One bottle will treat up to 48 gallons of gas.
It can help to bring old fuel back to life or to simply purge your fuel system of impurities such as gum, carbon and varnish, and its users swear by it for both regular use and for vehicles that have been put into storage.
If you decide to put your car in storage you’ll find adding this cleaner into the fuel line and driving around a bit (to mix it up) will ensure your car will be ready to go again once you decide to take it out of storage.
Competing products, like Lubegard, are known for their rejuvenating properties when used on vehicles that haven’t been started for a while, but Star Tron has something else up its sleeve.
When you’re eating food, enzymes in the saliva break it down to make it more easy to digest. Similarly, Star Tron have taken the unique step of using enzyme technology inside their fuel treatment to break down and remove deposits and make the engines run more smoothly and efficiently.
The gentle treatment makes it impossible to overfill your car. Overdosing won’t do any damage, and if anything it will make the treatment more effective.
Even better, it’s not just for car enthusiasts – it can be used for all sorts of gasoline engines, including boats, trucks, motorbikes and smaller pieces of equipment such as chainsaws. Each bottle contains 8 oz. – not much for what it costs – and while each oz. is good for six gallons of gas, they recommend doubling up for the initial dosage.
If money isn’t an issue, or if you’re looking for a versatile fuel treatment that can be used for other types of engine, Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment is a solid choice. It performs consistently well for its users and is often worth spending a little extra on.
5. Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment – Perfect solution for bulk users and people with multiple cars
If you’re a subscriber to the “go big or go home” philosophy, you’ll want to pick up Lucas 10013.
This fuel treatment comes in a huge one gallon bottle with a handy resealable cap, which means that you can use it, seal it and bring it back out again at a later date. Despite its slightly higher price tag than other products on the list, the size of the container actually makes this the cheapest – in terms of cost per oz. – product on the list.
Lucas 10013 is an American fuel injector cleaner that promises to increase power and miles per gallon by burning excess exhaust emissions. It will also simultaneously clean and lubricate your pumps and injectors, increasing their shelf life while improving efficiency.
The product is designed for use in both diesel and gasoline engines, and it complies with federal low sulfur content requirements. It also contains no solvents, relying instead on a blend of slick oils and additives which create a detergent effect.
As well as lubricating the equipment and helping your fuel system to fire more smoothly, it also promises to cause fuel to burn more thoroughly, mimicking the benefits of lead in gasoline without causing harmful emissions. It doesn’t matter how inferior the fuel is – your vehicle will run like clockwork.
Of course, Lucas 10013 isn’t a miracle product. One of its main advantages (and disadvantages) is it’s sheer size, with the large container offering up enough fuel injector cleaner to treat 400 gallons of fuel. Just be careful when you’re storing it – it’s not about to blow up in your face, but if it spills then it can be difficult to clean up, especially if it spills in the boot of your car.
What you’re getting here is the bulk option, the sort of thing that’s most suited for professional mechanics or owners of a large collection of cars. It’s also a solid choice for delivery businesses and other companies with a fleet of vehicles.
If you’re looking for something smaller and less expensive, you’d be better off going for a lower volume, all-purpose alternative.
6. Liqui Moly 2007 Jectron Gasoline Fuel Injection Cleaner – Good for gasoline engines and cars that stall
Liqui Moly’s offering is designed for gasoline engines only and promises to stop starting problems, hesitation and stalling. It’s easier than some others to get going because of its handy applicator, which helps you to add it to the tank when you top it up.
The company promises to help “your engine [to regain] its original performance”, and while that may be something of an overstatement, there’s no question that it has a noticeable effect on most vehicles.
It’s the automotive equivalent of a cup of coffee at seven o’clock in the morning.
Reviews are largely positive, although people don’t always notice a difference after using it. Still, some have reported an upswing in the number of miles per gallon that they get from a full tank, and it’s a popular choice amongst people who’ve shopped around and tried a number of different cleaners.
One of the advantages of the Liqui Moly cleaner is that it’s cheaper than most other options, although it does come in a smaller bottle. It can also help to prevent future problems while simultaneously clearing up specific issues. One bottle is typically enough for up to 18 gallons of fuel, although the effects only last for a couple of thousand miles at best.
Liqui Moly Cleaner is also meant to prevent deposits from reforming, and its reputation is helped by the fact that it comes from Germany, one of the major homes of automotive engineering. Fans swear that it improves overall performance, including both drivability and acceleration, which is good news whether you drive competitively or you only use your car for the commute.
7. ISO-HEET 28202 Premium Fuel-Line Antifreeze Water Remover and Injector Cleaner – Good for cars in cold climates
ISO-HEET’s entry into the fuel injector cleaner market also touts itself as both an antifreeze and a water remover. It can be used year round in 2 and 4 cycle gas and diesel engines, which makes it a highly versatile and attractive option for motorists.
Unlike Berryman B-12, which will polish the inside of your car until it shines, ISO-HEET will prevent rust and corrosion from happening in the first place by ridding your fuel system of excess water.
The antifreeze also means that the manufacturers suggest using a bottle with every top-up in the winter – and every 5,000 miles as a general rule. It can start to get expensive because of that, but the expense can be worth it when the weather’s extreme. When you’re not using it as an anti-freeze, you can use it in the heat to remove water and condensation.
The product itself comes from Chicago’s Gold Eagle Co. which was founded back in 1932 and which has plenty of history when it comes to vehicle additives and fuel injector cleaners.
This product is much better suited for you if you’re vehicle will be dealing with the elements and you need to keep it running smoothly.
It can be better to shop around for ISO-HEET, especially if you’re using it year round as the manufacturer recommends. It can start to get expensive after multiple applications, and so it’s often better to stock up when the price is low – and well ahead of the winter, when demand will be at its highest.
ISO-HEET deserves its place on the list but it’s not quite good enough to beat the rest of the competition. It’s one of the best choices for cold climates, but there are better all-rounders to choose from.
8. Berryman 0116 B-12 Chemtool Carburetor/Fuel Treatment and Injector Cleaner – Excellent for gasoline cars with moisture, gum and fuel residue
Berryman’s entry on this list comes all the way from China and is designed to emulsify grime, dirt and grease. Like Lubegard 77012, it’ll clean your parts until they sparkle, which certainly looks impressive whether it affects performance or not.
Unfortunately, if you drive a diesel car then you’re out of luck because this product is designed for gasoline engines only. Still, it has a fairly good reputation amongst its users and it’s also one of the cheaper options on the market.
Berryman B-12 also does a great job of dispersing moisture, which can dilute performance at best and cause a major problem with your vehicle if left unchecked. It’ll work its way throughout your entire fuel system, including the tank, the fuel lines and your injectors, ensuring higher compression, fewer repairs and lower costs.
Berryman also claims that the product uses HEST: High Energy Solvent Technology. This Berryman exclusive incorporates strong solvents, while many competitors use dilutants. Whilst this does mean a exceptionally strong ability to remove any residue, it also means using too much can actually damage you’re engine.
Berryman B-12 is a wise choice if you don’t have much of a budget – or if other cleaners haven’t worked for you. But there are alternatives on the market that have a better reputation – and that won’t cause blindness if you accidentally swallow them.
9. Hot Shot’s Secret P040432Z Diesel Extreme Clean and Boost – Perfect for high-performance diesel engines
Hot Shot’s secret is out, and it’s ready to kick-start your engine.
This diesel-specific fuel additive is designed to clean out the tank, lines and injectors while removing any excess water from the system. It boosts cetane, a colorless, liquid hydrocarbon that’s present in diesel and which ignites easily under compression. As a general rule, the quicker the fuel ignites, the better the performance of the engine.
That might sound dangerous, as though your car could explode at any time, but that’s not the case. In fact, Hot Shot’s Secret will help to stabilize the fuel and to coat the tank and lines with a rust and corrosion inhibitor to prevent leaks and breakages.
But despite that, it’s one of the best products on the market that’s designed specifically for diesel vehicles, and it’s a decent choice if you’re looking to keep costs down per oz. The manufacturers recommend using it no more than once every six months, and there’s enough in the bottle for a couple of applications.
Of course no product can achieve 100% positive reviews. Some reviewers have said they saw no difference, with others preferring to use it as a preventative measure instead of as a cure.
Ultimately, the difference you will see will be influence by many factors including how old you vehicle is, its efficiency and how often you use a cleaner.
Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Hot Shot’s Secret is on the cheaper end of the market , but if you’re strapped for cash then you could do much worse. It might not be as good as some of the other cleaners on our list, but it’s much, much better than nothing.
10. Lubegard 77012 Fuel System Booster Cleaner – Top Choice for vehicles that are coming out of storage
Lubegard is the last entry on our list, and its main claim to fame is receiving the highest overall average rating from reviewers. Part of the reason for that is that it’s cheap and cheerful, an entry-level option that’s ever so slightly better than other, similar products.
Despite that, Lubegard isn’t a huge seller, and not all users are convinced that it does the job. However, it has the advantage of being suitable for both gasoline and diesel engines, and it’s also designed to work with new DIG fuel systems.
Like many of its competitors, the manufacturer also promises to improve fuel economy and horsepower by removing impurities. But perhaps uniquely, it also allows you to use less expensive lower octane fuels more effectively, and it’s also suitable for ethanol blends and bio-fuel.
It’s also easy to measure out – one oz. of Lubeguard equates to one gallon of gasoline. That means you can figure out how many cans you need before you order, as you might need to buy two if you have a larger vehicle. The manufacturer recommends using it once every 3,000 miles for best performance, but many people prefer to use it two or three times a year just to keep things ticking over.
Lubegard is touted as being so versatile that you can use it for chainsaws, motorcycles, boats, tractors and ATVs, as well as for cars and trucks.
Lubegard 77012 Fuel System Booster Cleaner is something of a guarded secret – it’s not used by many people, but the ones that do use it are mostly pleased with its performance. Either way, there are other, more established players on the market that are better suited to most people.
To help you to arrive at your decision, we’ve done the hard work to pick out a few top performers based on the different criteria that you might have in mind.
Best Bang for the Buck ($ per oz.)
If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, you’ll want to go for the Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment. While it has the highest overall price of any of the fuel cleaners, it also comes in a massive, one-gallon container, giving it the low cost of $0.23 per oz. That’s over half the price of its nearest competitor, the Hot Shot’s Secret P040432Z Diesel Extreme Clean and Boost. As a general rule, the larger the container, the cheaper the product.
Worst Value ($ per oz.)
Now that you know that the largest containers work out the cheapest, it won’t surprise you to know that the tiny bottle of Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment offers the worst value for money at $1.54 per oz. But despite this, it still ranks fourth on our list due to its overall strong performance.
It’ll come as no surprise to car lovers that Sea Foam SF-16 Motor Treatment was by far the most reviewed fuel injector cleaner on the list. In fact, it has almost twice as many reviews as the runner up, Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment. The high volume of reviews corresponds with Sea Foam’s #1 bestseller ranking, making it one of the most popular choices on the market.
It might surprise you to know that the highest rated fuel injector cleaner is also at the bottom of our list – the Lubegard 77012 Fuel System Booster Cleaner. Part of the reason for the high ratings is its relatively low price. It exceeds customer expectations, but only because it sets expectations low to begin with. It also doesn’t have that many reviews to begin with which can usually skew ratings. Nevertheless, it has a tight knit community of supporters and is worthy of a place on our top ten list.
Enter Sea Foam SF-16 Motor Treatment. We’ve talked about this a lot in this article, and that’s because it’s a fantastic product and well worthy of the praise that’s shown by its army of devotees.
Sea Foam is the kind of all-purpose, highly versatile fuel injector cleaner that’s used by everyone from professional race car drivers and mechanics to the average working man who wants a little extra performance out of an old vehicle. It’s a bestseller for a reason and has a place in the toolboxes of automotive workers around the globe.
Fuel Injector Cleaner Buyers Guide
There are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you go ahead and purchase a fuel injector cleaner. Here are some factors you need to consider before you start shopping:
Specific fuel injector cleaner for a specific job
Don’t get me wrong, for the most part all fuel injector cleaners do the same thing which is to clean out your fuel injectors so your car performs more efficiently. However; there are fuel injector cleaners that are specifically formulated to excel at other tasks:
- Preventing future issues from occurring. This is especially common for people with brand new vehicles – using fuel injector cleaners can help to make sure that your new purchase continues to run like it did when it rolled off the production floor.
- Good for hot or cold weather environments. Some fuel injector cleaners contain antifreeze.
- Some are particular good at preventing build-ups when the vehicle is put in storage.
We’ve outlined these factors when applicable in our top ten list as well as weigh them up with how good the cleaner is at doing its main job – cleaning the fuel injectors!
Compatibility – diesel or gasoline?
This is a super important thing and something you need to be aware of. Most fuel injector cleaners are designed to work with both diesel and gasoline engines, but some are only supposed to work with one or the other.
If you do use the wrong type of cleaner, it’s unlikely to do any lasting damage to your vehicle, but it’s also better not to take the risk in the first place if you can avoid it. Most manufacturers have comprehensive guidelines and instructions on their sites, so take the time to look them up and to make sure that you’re picking a cleaner that’s compatible with your vehicle.
Volume and usage frequency
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re buying enough cleaner to keep you going. Check how often you need to use it and whether the bottle is big enough for multiple applications. If it is, double check the storage instructions to ensure that it doesn’t spoil and remember that you can often make a saving by buying in bulk.
Signs that it’s time to use a fuel injector cleaner
Manufacturers will indicate how frequently you need to use the cleaner based on the miles driven or some specified time period.
In general, it doesn’t make sense to use a cleaner if you have a new car as the fuel injectors are already clean. However; keep in mind that some cleaners are meant to be used in new vehicles as they will help keep the injectors from getting dirty in the first place. We’ve pointed out such cleaners in our top ten list.
If you’ve had your car for awhile and notice things like difficulty in starting the engine, loss of acceleration, louder than normal engine sounds or darker exhaust fumes it may be time to use a cleaner. A regular car check up can confirm if indeed the problem lies with dirty fuel injectors.
Lastly, if you decide to store your vehicle for more than a couple of months, it would be wise to drain the existing fuel and top it up with a new batch of fuel and cleaner when you decide to start it up again. That way any residue left from storage is cleaned.
Once you start to use a cleaner, ensure that you keep to the manufacturers maintenance guidelines. This make for a painless cleaning process that ensure your vehicle continues ticking along.
Tips on using fuel injector cleaners
Many of these tips are pretty common sense but it doesn’t hurt to mention them!
Never mix different bottles of fuel injector cleaner. It may be tempting if you ran out of your current bottle and you have another one from another manufacturer just sitting there, but I can assure you it is not worth it. Manufacturers use different formulations in their cleaners which can spell disaster if you mix them together inside your engine.
Don’t use more fuel injector cleaner than recommended. Each manufacturer will specify how often and how much cleaner you should use. In some cases, anymore then the specified amount can actually damage the internal components of your engine.
A manufacturer will state how much cleaner you will need depending on gallons in the tank. Therefore; it makes sense to use the cleaner after you fill the tank up, that way you know how much you need to use.
Use the cleaner after you fill up the tank. The cleaning magic happens when you drive your car. The more fuel you have in your car the better, as it allows the cleaner more time to thoroughly travel through the engine. On top if this, it also easier to measure how much cleaner you need, as pointed out in the previous tip. In general, the manufacturers will specify a minimum and/or maximum fuel limit in the vehicle to be able to use the cleaner. Ensure you follow their guidelines carefully.
Over to you
So there you have it, the best fuel injector cleaners for 2018. After much blood, sweat and tears, we hope that we have helped you decide which fuel injector cleaner is best for you. Let’s start the discussion with a couple of questions – which fuel injector cleaner do you swear by? How often do you flush your vehicle’s system? Let us know what you think with a comment.
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