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Fuel Injector Cleaning and Care

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The top three most profitable services that shops perform are Fuel Injector Cleaning, Power Steering Flush and Transmission fluid exchange. Of the three, the most profitable is Fuel Injector cleaning. The reason for this is the equipment necessary to perform it is minimal in cost, some product suppliers will even give the equipment to the shop with a first qualifying order.

The per vehicle product cost varies from a low of under $10 to a high of about $25, which the shops retail including labor between $70 and $135. The time required varies from about 30 minutes to over 90 minutes. Sometimes parts are required (eg: throttle body gasket)

Many quick lube and tire stores have gotten into the business and promote it heavily with incentives to their employees because of the high profitability of the service. Unfortunately they are also the least qualified to perform it. I have personally observed one tire store mechanic damaging two 3.8L Ford engines from failing to monitor the vehicle in the cleaning process. Others run the chemicals in so fast they wash the cylinders of the oil protecting them (grey oil smoking badly during the “cleaning”) or Hydro Lock the engine.

Today Fuel Injector cleaning is not about cleaning the Fuel Injector any more and it does not really clean the fuel injectors. It is about cleaning the air induction system, the carbon off the valves, the pistons and out of the combustion chamber. It is also about cleaning the throttle body to improve idle quality. All of which is necessary on most vehicles. There are some vehicles that are so prone to carbon, gum & varnish build up that they need cleaning yearly. Others do not need it until well over 50k miles.

Fuel Injector cleaning is no longer recommended by many vehicle manufacturers since the switch in design to cope with alcohol fuels. The new style Fuel Injector for alcohol blended fuels is made of plastic and is about ½ inch in diameter. The new style Fuel Injectors typically fail from overheating but rarely clog up.

Fuel Injector cleaning was and still is necessary for the older style injectors that are either Bosch origin or mimic Bosch. This style is identified as being about 1 inch in diameter and is usually made of metal.

With this understanding and a good scan tool you can tell if the fuel injectors need cleaning or if they have a failure problem very easily. If your vehicle needs Fuel Injector cleaning, not just Air Induction and Carbon Cleaning, then see a professional mechanic in a garage or dealership as most there have the expertise and training to perform it correctly.

Do not fall for the marketing hype and purchase any additional Fuel Injector cleaning additives either from the parts store or your fuel distributor. You are wasting your money.

If you want to do preventative maintenance on your own, go to your local General Motors dealership parts department and purchase an anti sulfur additive. One can one time a year is sufficient to protect the fuel pump and fuel sending unit from the harmful effects of sulfur in the fuel you buy. This simple thing can save you hundreds of dollars from replacing parts. This was the subject of a TSB from General Motors a few years ago.

 Information for the professional

The 4 best known suppliers of professional grade cleaning products are BG Products, Wynns, Mighty Distributing, and Daytona Products. The companies in descending order based on years serving the professional; Wynns, Daytona & Mighty, and finally BG Products.

BG Products is the company that should be credited with creating the market as they licensed the technology of Techron from an oil company (Ashland Oil ??) and marketed it under the name of 44K.

BG products unfortunately has not kept pace with the development in this area by the others and they rely on a series of marketing gimmicks to sell their products. Wynns has a decent Air Induction and Carbon Cleaning product, but it is too strong and may cause problems, as it can corrode brass fittings.

The leader in the technology today is Mighty which has 2 foaming cleaners for the throttle body. The brown foaming cleaner is safe for use on “Drive by Wire” throttle bodies, however exercise extreme caution and clean them OFF car in an inverted position, especially the Nissan. If you clean them off car, then you will need a VAG Com 10.6 Scan Tool to reset the throttle body on VW & Audi vehicles.

Mighty also has fantastic decarboning products that can not Hydro Lock an engine when used properly. Mighty is dedicated to the professional community and has lots more high quality products for the professional.

BG originally had a complete fuel injection and air induction cleaning tool kit, but quit selling their fuel injection tool kit as they became obsolete with the new Fuel Injector design to handle alcohol blend fuels and statements against cleaning by the vehicle manufacturers.

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