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Getting fuel to your engine’s cylinders for that sweet, sweet, suck, squeeze, bang, and blow can become difficult if your fuel injectors are clogged, broken, or filled with bad gas and contaminates. Unlike the simplicity of washing the car’s paint or wiping the dashboard, cleaning injectors is a bit more involved.

It can be somewhat intimidating for the average DIYer, but it doesn’t have to be. So never fear, Car Bibles is here.

Common Fuel Injector Problems

Humans have WebMD for health and Car Bibles for cars. To make diagnosing your car and inspecting your fuel injectors easier, our experienced editors are here to help detail a few of the most common fuel injector problems. Ready?

  • Clogged Injector

As your car ages, contaminates and particulate matter from the vehicle’s assembly can work its way through the fuel system and into the injectors. As it builds up, the injector can become clogged and fail to function properly. When this occurs, your engine will fail to receive enough fuel to fire correctly.

  • Broken Injector

Everything has its breaking point, and fuel injectors are no different. If a fuel injector breaks, your engine will fail to receive enough fuel to fire correctly. It could also cause further damage or fire as the broken injector could spray fuel where it shouldn’t.

  • Contaminated or Bad Gas

Contaminants such as water, particulate matter, dirt, debris, and other extraneous materials can enter your fuel system and clog up your injectors. Much less likely, a batch of bad gas from a gas station – either because it was improperly mixed, poorly transported, or was old when you pumped it in – could also gum up your injectors.

Supply system with clean fuel Injectors
Supply system with clean fuel Injectors

What You’ll Need To Clean Fuel Injectors

Car Bibles HQ has the type of garage most would sell their left arms for, with all the tools necessary for a variety of jobs. But we understand that DIYers may not have the stocked, locked, and ready to rock garages full of tools we enjoy. So here’s a guide to what you’ll need to clean fuel injectors.

  • Time

Between extraction and disposal, it’ll take between 30 minutes to two hours, so give yourself enough time.

  • Space

You’ll also need a level workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking.

  • Tools

You’ll need nitrile gloves, a mask, a socket wrench set, an air compressor, and fuel injector cleaner.

Safety

Before we get into how to clean fuel injectors, readers should know that working with flammable liquids such as gasoline can be very dangerous. A single spark could set the fluid alight, you along with it. Think before you act and keep tools, cords, or anything that could spark away from the gasoline.

Wear safety glasses, gloves, a ratty old Incubus shirt, and, if you’d like, a pair of mechanic-style overalls.

Stay safe.

How To Clean Fuel Injectors

Before we get started, double check that the ignition is off, the key is out of the car, and that the vehicle is both cool and on a level workspace. Car Bibles is going to break down cleaning your fuel injectors into two categories, one for beginners and one for those more adept in the garage. Now we can get started!

A Beginner’s Guide To Cleaning Your Injectors

Over-the-counter fuel-injector cleaners contain detergents purported to break up carbon deposits.

  1. With your gas tank near empty, dump the fuel-system cleaner’s entire contents into the gas tank.
  2. Now you can fill up the gas tank with fuel.

And that’s it! You will, however, need to repeat the process after every oil change.

An Intermediate’s Guide To Cleaning Your Injectors

  1. Remove the canister’s cap from the fuel injector cleaner.
  2. As directed, fill the canister with the fuel injector cleaning solution.
  3. For ease of access, hang the canister under the hood.
  4. Find the fuel rail test port (you’ll likely need to consult your dusty repair manual to find it).
  5. With the provided adapter, attach the hose between the canister and fuel rail test port.
  6. Pull the fuel pump relay in the fuse box.
  7. With the compressor, hook up a hose to the canister’s air input port.
  8. Adjust the compressor’s system pressure as directed.
  9. You can now start the car.
  10. Allow the solution to work through the fuel rail system until the canister is empty. About 5-10 minutes.
  11. Slowly release the pressure and disconnect the compressor.
  12. Disconnect the hose connecting the canister and fuel rail.
  13. Start that car!

Done. Congrats!

Fuel injectors in old dusty engine is under service
Fuel injectors in old dusty engine is under service

Common Reasons Why Bad Gas Can Gunk Up Injectors

Your car’s fuel injectors can get gunked up for a variety of reasons, but these three are the primary culprits. Take a look.

  • Age

As gas ages, it loses its volatility (the reaction that produces spark and combustion) and won’t work. Leaving gas for six months or longer could lead to degradation.

  • A Rusty Gas Tank

Just as rust can ruin a day repainting your car, so too can a rusty gas tank ruin your gas. Oxidation within the gas tank can produce particulate matter that makes it way through the fuel system, past the fuel filter, and gums up the engine. No bueno.

  • Contamination

As rust can form and contaminate your gas, so can a lot of other things. Water leaking into the system, metal debris from a bad fuel pump, or sugar in your tank from your ex all could contaminate your gas.

How Much Does It Cost To Clean Fuel Injectors

If you’re cleaning the injectors, it may run between $15-$30 for the fuel injector cleaner. A professional cleaning will cost you parts and labor, which could cost hundreds of dollars.

How Do I Maintain/Stabilize My Fuel?

Well, fine people of the internet, if you’re storing your car for a prolonged period, you may want to use a fuel stabilizer, which keeps your fuel healthy even when you’re not using it.

Can Premium Gas Clean My Fuel System?

Despite advertisements speaking to the engine-healing properties of premium gasoline, the higher octane fuel won’t clean your injectors. Premium gas is designed for high-compression or high-strung performance engines to eliminate the potential for engine knock

Background Information:

  1. How Fuel Injection Systems Work– HowStuff Works
  2. Fuel Injection –Wikipedia

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