How to Clean Fuel Injectors Without Removing Them?

We’ve all been there. Our car’s gas no longer performs as it once did. We spend ungodly amounts on pumps without any noticeable changes. We may even think about getting a new car.

Fuel injectors are automated controlled devices, which let fuel into the motor to maintain the proper fuel-to-air ratio that keeps your vehicle moving smoothly.

They also control the amount of fuel dispersed and are responsible for directing the pressure of the spray and the angle at which it injects into the motor. This is all controlled by the Engine Control Unit (ECU), which uses sensors to automate fuel flow.

Where Are Fuel Injectors Located?

The placement of the fuel injectors varies depending on the vehicle and the motor. Nonetheless, they are generally located in the head of the motor. This position became commonplace as fuel-injected engines replaced carbureted engines in most developed nations, leading to lowered emissions and better fuel economy.

Why Clean Fuel Injectors?

There are a ton of reasons why fuel injectors should be cleaned constantly.

Fuel Economy

The abovementioned fuel economy will save you money at the gas station. Who doesn’t want a little extra spending money, especially when most modern automobiles are built to maintain high-efficiency levels.

Emission Reduction

Alongside personal savings at the pumps, keeping your fuel injectors clean is also a simple way to reduce your emissions, making the world a greener place. This occurs through the removal of carbon buildups in the engines and injectors

Maintaining Your Vehicle’s Optimal Performance

Cleaning your injectors regularly will refurbish and maintain your vehicle’s optimal performance. Whether you’re off-roading, heading to the racetrack, or just cruising down the freeway on your daily commute.

It Prolongs the Life of Your Engine

There is no reason a modern motor shouldn’t function well into its old age. And fuel injector care is one of the many regular maintenance practices that will extend your engine’s performance and lifespan.

When to Clean Fuel Injectors

While fuel injector maintenance is an important regular practice and can save you money in the long run by keeping your vehicle running smoothly, it is not something you need to do daily or even weekly.

Instead, make a point of cleaning them every time you get an oil change. This makes it easier to remember not to over clean, which is a waste of the money you’re about to save with a cleaner and better functioning engine!

Exceptions to this timeline can arise, particularly if some of these problems occur; notably strange gas odors, a check engine light, and/or misfiring cylinders. The vehicle’s check-engine light is the most common notification of a dirty fuel injector, but if everything else appears to be functioning normally, consult a scan tool, and/or ask your local mechanic.

That being said, with the right tools, and the information provided below, you should be able to clean your fuel injectors without removing them, thus avoiding a potentially costly and time-consuming trip to your mechanic or dealership.

Things to Use to Clean Fuel Injectors

 Although it’s not an overly complicated process, if you want to clean your fuel injectors without removing them you’ll need some tools that not everyone has kicking around their home or garage.

Automotive Cleaning tools

You’ll need an automotive fuel cleaning tool like this one from Autool, or this one from OTC Tools. These kits contain a ton of hoses, valves, and pipes; both of which are designed to be easy and spillproof.

Run-Rite/Liqui Moly

If what we’re trying to avoid is spilling, we’ll need either one of these products.

These cleaners pour into your cleaning tool and are flushed through your fuel injectors to remove carbon buildup. Run-Rite makes a two-in-one product using their patented Sledgehammer cleaner that has received numerous accolades.   

If you prefer a European product, German Liqui Moly has received rave reviews across the pond and is easy to find in North America as well.

Sea Foam Motor Treatment

We haven’t discussed diesel recommendations yet, and while the process is similar, you will need to be sure that your cleaning product of choice is diesel compatible. Sea Foam Motor Treatment is a great choice, and available at an affordable price as well.

How to Clean Fuel Injectors Step-by-step

Pour In Your Cleaner of Choice

Open the cap on your cleaning tool, this could be the aforementioned machine from Autool, OTC Tools, or a similar one, and pour Liqui Moly, Run-Rite, or a comparable recommendation from your mechanic.

Screw the End of the Cleaner Into the Fuel Injection Rail

Hang the cleaning machine from the hood. Then, locate the fuse box and remove the fuel pump relay, plug it into the injection rail and now the source entering the engine is your cleaning tool and cleaning solution.

Connect the Air Supply to Power Your Tool

Connect to electricity and lower the pressure by approximately 5 PSI. This will force the cleaning product through your fuel injectors.

Start Your Vehicle

Observe carefully your cleaning tool. Once the cleaner is used up, your fuel injectors have been successfully cleaned!

How Often Should You Clean Your Fuel Injectors?

Many mechanics will tell you to clean your fuel injectors once per year, often coinciding with the 30,000-mile mark. If you are driving longer distances, obviously this will warrant a more regular cleaning than once per year.

The same can be said for higher performance situations, like track driving, which can lead to a quicker buildup of carbon on the fuel injectors than your average day-to-day commute.


Can you clean diesel fuel injectors?

If your car runs on diesel, the most important thing to remember is to check your cleaning product of choice for its compatibility with diesel engines.

A product like Sea Foam Motor Treatment will do an excellent job on your diesel fuel injector.

When deciding whether to clean or not, look for the same signs as with a standard motor; gassy odors, a check engine light, and strange vibrations when idling.

Can you soak fuel injectors to clean them?

Soaking your vehicle’s fuel injectors is not advised, for two reasons.

First of all, their removal is best left to a mechanic. If you decide to clean your fuel injectors at home, the best solution is one of the abovementioned. Secondly, leaving the injectors in a solution like the cleaners discussed earlier can damage fragile parts without doing much actual cleaning.

How much does it cost to clean your fuel injectors?

The cost of having a mechanic clean your fuel injectors can be as low as $75-100, however, an initial investment in the cleaning equipment mentioned earlier will guarantee years of cleaning with the only cost-consideration being the liquid used for cleaning.

If you have the time and money to see your mechanic every year, perhaps that is the simplest solution. But if you’d like to learn the process yourself, you’ll save money in the future, and have a more intimate understanding of your automobile.

Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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