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.
Fuel system cleaners vs fuel injector cleaners
Note that some manufacturers use “fuel system cleaner” and “fuel injector cleaner” interchangeably, so if you’re ever in doubt then the best bet is to check the instructions or the manufacturer’s website.
Either way, fuel system cleaners, and fuel injector cleaners are typically both designed to be poured into your fuel tank, though some specify that they should be added to either a full or an empty tank. Some fuel system cleaners also include conditioners and other goodies to help to prevent corrosion between now and your next clean.
Best Fuel Injector Cleaners 2020
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 2020 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||Price (per Oz)||Shop|
|1. Sea Foam SF-16 Motor Treatment||16 oz||Yes||Yes||$$||Check Price|
|2. Red Line (60103) Complete SI-1 Fuel System Cleaner||15 oz||No||Yes||$$$||Check Price|
|3. Chevron 65740 Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner||20 oz||Yes||Yes||$$||Check Price|
|4. Gumout 510014 Regane Complete Fuel System Cleaner||6 oz||No||Yes||$$$||Check Price|
|5. BG 44k PLATINUM Fuel System Cleaner||11 oz||No||Yes||$$$$$||Check Price|
|6. STP Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizer, Ultra 5-in-1||12 oz||No||Yes||$$$||Check Price|
|7. Royal Purple 11722 Max-Clean Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizer||20 oz||Yes||Yes||$$||Check Price|
|8. Lucas 10013 Fuel Treatment||128 oz||Yes||Yes||$||Check Price|
|9. Liqui Moly 2007 Jectron Gasoline Fuel Injection Cleaner||10.5 oz||No||Yes||$$$||Check Price|
|10. Hot Shot’s Secret P040432Z Diesel Extreme Clean and Boost||32 oz||Yes||No||$$||Check Price|
1. Sea Foam SF-16 Motor Treatment – Good for removing deposits and boosting 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. Red Line (60103) Complete SI-1 Fuel System Cleaner – Good for high-performance machines
The Red Line SI-1 fuel system cleaner is another comprehensive cleaning product that’s designed to flush out the whole of your system and to prevent future corrosion.
It does this through a mixture of both high and low-temperature detergents, cleaners, and conditioners, effectively attacking the problem from a variety of angles.
Red Line’s fuel cleaner attacks and scours everything from your injectors and carburetors to your valves and your combustion chambers. It’s suitable for oxygenated fuel types, too.
According to the Material Safety Data Sheets for the products from leading manufacturers, the Red Line cleaner has a higher concentration of PEAs than any other brand. That means that it’s likely to perform the best in hot temperatures (great for high performing engines), but it’s interesting to note that the formula also contains compounds that are designed to work in lower temperatures too.
The result is one of the most thorough cleans that you can expect from a fuel system cleaner, and there’s a reason it appears so high on our list. It’s also great value for money, making it a pretty solid default choice for both personal and professional use if you happen to work in a garage or auto shop.
Overall, it’s an all around pick with a preferance for high performance vehicles. Perhaps Amazon reviewer StophinHousen put it best when he wrote, “It’s like kale. It’s not going to make you skinny, but if you eat it and get some exercise, it’s a good way to get the essentials that your body needs.”
3. Chevron 65740 Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner – Good for 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. Gumout 510014 Regane Complete Fuel System Cleaner – Good for when you need a PEA-based cleaner
This fuel system cleaner is designed to remove build-up around fuel injectors, ports, intake valves, piston tops, cylinder heads, combustion chambers, and more.
Better still, once it’s clean, it stays clean, thanks to the ability of this stuff to prevent future build-up.
The manufacturers even promise that it will condition your fuel to stop ethanol and water corrosion from doing damage in the months to come.
All of this means is that this product can help prolong the life of key vehicle parts, especially in the engine where it can be expensive and inconvenient to carry out repairs and replacements.
On the plus side, it contains polyetheramine, which is the only cleaning agent that’s powerful enough to withstand the heat of a combustion engine.
In fact, it’s one of the cheaper PEA-based cleaners on the market, and while it all adds up if you’re using it as often as the manufacturers recommend, it’s worth it for the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve got a clean injection system.
Sure, you could go to an automotive garage and get them to clean your fuel system for you, but you’ll find that it’s an unpleasant, time-consuming job and that they’ll charge a decent chunk of cash as a result of it. And even then, they’ll probably just use a bottle of Gumout.
5. BG 44k PLATINUM Fuel System Cleaner – Good for removing carbon build-up
This particular product is something of a trade secret, and indeed you’re more likely to hear about it on an automotive forum or from a mechanic than you are from a random friend or family member.
One of the main selling points of this one is that it does a particularly good job of removing carbon build-up, preventing misfires, and other engine problems. In some cases, it can even save a trip to the mechanic, and it certainly works out cheaper.
It can take a few cans (and a few tanksful of gas) to see results, and you’ll want to keep using it on a regular basis to keep your vehicle maintained.
BG suggests using their fuel system cleaner once every 15,000 miles, but you may find that it makes more sense to do it more or less frequently depending upon the vehicle in question. Listen to your engine and do what it tells you to do.
Per ounce, the BG 44K Platinum is by far and away the most expensive cleaner. However; the costs are somewhat mitigated considering the rather extended usage period, which can be up to 5 times longer than the other products on this list.
All in all, using this stuff is an investment in the future, so there’s no point if you’re not expecting to keep your vehicle for a long time. But if your vehicle is your pride and joy, or even if you’re just trying to tune up an old vehicle before you sell it on, it’s a pretty good investment. It can make a good car great – or it can make a great car feel like it just rolled off the shop floor.
6. STP Fuel System Cleaner and Stabilizer, Ultra 5-in-1 – Good for when you need to put vehicles into storage
This fuel system cleaner leads with the bold promise to deliver three times as many cleaning agents as its competitors’ thanks to its exclusive formula.
It’s specifically designed to cut down on gas usage and to reduce emissions by deep cleaning the fuel system, from your tank to your injectors.
This fuel cleaner also does an excellent job of lubricating your engine parts and while we’re not saying that it can work miracles, it can certainly help to breathe new life into an old engine or preserve the parts of a new vehicle.
Like most of the other cleaners on this list, it’s super easy for you to use, requiring you to simply pour the bottle into your gas tank before you fill it up.
Another selling point is that this cleaner can be used with any gasoline engine, and so it’s not just for your car. You can also use it with motorbikes, boats, lawnmowers, trucks, and pretty much anything else that’s running a gasoline engine and a fuel injector system. One way to think about it is that if you’re using the same fuel that you’d use for an automobile, you can probably use the STP Fuel System Cleaner.
And the reviews are pretty good too, with many of them mentioning advantages that the manufacturers themselves can’t make claims about. For example, one user found that it fixed problems with their check engine light, while another said it helped to breathe new life into their Subaru Forester XT. It’s not quite a magic bullet solution, but if you’re experiencing issues with your vehicle’s performance then it’s certainly worth a try.
7. 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 that 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.
8. 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 result is an extremely safe to use cleaner which won’t damage the components of your engine even if you use more than the recommended dosage.
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.
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.
9. 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.
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.
10. 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.
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.)
On paper the worst value per oz. is actually the BG 44k PLATINUM Fuel System Cleaner at $2.45 per oz. However; it’s not as expensive as you think as usage is recommended every 15,000 miles which is quite longer than other products. Hence; we still give it a 5th rank 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. The high volume of reviews corresponds with Sea Foam’s #1 bestseller ranking, making it one of the most popular (and best) choices on the market.
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 particularly 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 2020. 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.