Do Fuel System Cleaners even work?


As required by the EPA, all gasoline sold in the United States must contain a minimum level of deposit-control additive to prevent buildup of sediment in the engine and fuel system. However, just because a fuel meets EPA minimums doesn’t mean it prevents deposits from forming.
But do they all work as advertised?


There are some additives on the market that do indeed help keep engines clean. Some can even remove existing deposits left by lower-quality gasolines and help restore your car’s original performance. Chemistry plays a large role in an additive’s effectiveness. Some fuel system cleaners contain polybutene amine (PBA) chemistry and can remove deposits from:

  • Fuel injectors
  • Carburetors
  • Intake valves
  • Ports

They can also help:

  • Restore lost engine performance
  • Help lower engine emissions

However, that’s where PBAs benefits stop. In fact, additives with PBA chemistry actually contribute to combustion chamber deposits, which can potentially cause engine knock and increased emissions.

More advanced additives—especially those containing polyether amine (PEA) chemistry—can deliver additional benefits, such as cleaning combustion chambers, reducing engine knocking and pinging, relieving cold-startup issues, and removing harmful sulfur deposits from gas gauge sensors to protect them from malfunctions.

Chevron patented PEA chemistry in the early 1980s. Today, it's not only used in the company’s Techron Concentrate Plus, but also in fuel system cleaners from STP, Gumout, and Valvoline. In fact, many auto dealerships use PEA chemistry in the fuel injection-cleaning service they offer. So instead of paying $150, head over to your local auto parts dealer once every 3,000 miles, buy a fuel system cleaner with PEA, put it in with a full tank of gas, and save $140.


As gasoline prices rise, there’s increasing controversy surrounding aftermarket additives—as well as chemicals like acetone—and whether they actually help improve fuel economy and power.

Many don’t. Ignore additive makers’ claims and rely only on years of proven science. If the manufacturer can’t prove measurable gains in a laboratory environment over years of testing, it’s snake oil. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it most often is. For example, there is no significant science to support claims that acetone boosts fuel economy or power. It does, however, have corrosive effects on the fuel system gaskets and hoses, which adversely affects your vehicle. Even if such chemicals did produce some positive effects, it wouldn't matter that much if your car isn't even running!

How about fuel induction cleaning?

There is another way of getting carbon deposits reduced. and that is fuel induction cleaning. Instead of adding a type of cleaner in the gas tank. Cleaner is then added to the intake port where it follows the travel of air in the intake system through throttle body, intake manifold, valves and combustion chamber and out the exhaust valves and exhaust system.

From our experience, this type of service has far more better results in cleaning and reducing carbon deposits in modern engines. It may need to be done at regular intervals to get the vehicle back to its optimum performing level.

Courtesy of Repair Pal.


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