What Is Fuel Injector Cleaning And How Does It Work?

Fuel injector cleaning is the removal of contaminants and deposits in the injectors. Fuel injector nozzles have very fine tolerances that are required to properly atomize fuel for combustion. Particles or hard deposits can build up in the injectors over time for a variety of reasons. The build-up of these deposits will degrade the spray pattern of the injectors and affect performance and fuel mileage. If you're seeing a down turn in the performance of your engine, you might be wondering about fuel injector cleaning and what it can do to help your engine. This article will answer your questions about what to expect from the fuel injector cleaning process.

Where Do Fuel Injector Deposits Come From?

Deposits can occur from impurities in the gasoline and byproducts of the gasoline itself. It is difficult to account for all the impurities found in gasoline. Storage, transport, and age can impact fuel quality. A car’s fuel filter is designed to minimize debris and impurities before reaching sensitive fuel system components. However, deposits of small particles can eventually accumulate inside fuel injectors. Moisture can introduce corrosion into the fuel system. Any one of these events can allow small oxidized particles to become lodged in the injectors.

The mixture of hydrocarbons in gasoline includes olefins, which are waxy compounds. When an engine is shut off, any remaining fuel in the nozzle evaporates and these compounds are left behind. As the engine cools, the residual heat soak bakes the olefins into hard deposits. While detergents are added to gasoline to minimize these deposits, short trips can minimize their effectiveness. The injectors may not operate long enough for detergents to work before new deposits are accumulated.


Can Fuel Additives Clean Fuel Injectors?

Even small fuel injector restrictions can result in lean combustion and misfires. The engine computer can compensate for small variations in the air/fuel ratio, but dirty fuel injectors will eventually cause problems. Fuel economy may worsen or the engine could start running poorly. The first recommendation may be to perform a chemical fuel injection cleaning. Fuel injection cleaning involves either pouring an additive into the fuel tank or running a solvent directly through the fuel rail to the injectors.

Fuel injector cleaning with chemicals achieves mixed results at best. While cleaners may dissolve some deposits or particles, some may still be too large to pass through the injector nozzle. Many auto manufacturers advise against fuel additives because the harsh chemicals may end up damaging sensitive emissions equipment like oxygen sensors and catalytic converters.


What Is The Best Way To Clean Fuel Injectors?

The best method to clean fuel injectors is to remove and rebuild them. TLF Performance is one of the only companies that remanufacture fuel injectors right here in the United States. Most other companies use low-cost labor in China or other countries. TLF uses a comprehensive remanufacturing process to restore injectors to OEM quality and performance. This process includes the following steps:

  • Visual inspection of the injector casing
  • Injector coil testing
  • Disassembly and cleaning of the injector casing
  • Replacement of all internal wear parts
  • Rigorous performance testing after assembly

All injectors are subjected to flow tests after assembly. They are flow-matched within 1% of the rated flow rate before passing. Fuel injector remanufacturing through TLF Performance costs a fraction of new fuel injectors. In fact, many “new” injectors sold for older cars are remanufactured, but this is not disclosed to the customer. We also offer fuel injector testing to determine the condition of your injectors. A flowsheet is provided to document the actual performance. Depending on the results, a recommendation will be made for remanufacturing the injectors. If you'd like to talk to our founder, Tom Folder, about fuel injector cleaning before starting the process, you can schedule a chat with him here.

You can learn more about the benefits of TFL Performance fuel injector cleaning service here. Ready to send your injectors to us for inspection or cleaning? Start by filling out this form.