Cleaning Dirty Fuel Injectors Is an Intermediate Job for Most DIYers. Here’s Everything You Need To Know To Clean Dirty Fuel Injectors at Home.
- DIY Difficulty Level: Intermediate
- Time Required: About 1 hour
- Tools & Materials:
- Fuel injector cleaning kit
- Air compressor
- Wrench set
What Are Fuel Injectors?
Fuel injectors are the devices that are responsible for spraying, or injecting, fuel into an engine precisely when the engine management computer tells them to. By injecting the right amount of fuel at the right time, the fuel injectors ensure the correct air-fuel mixture so that optimal combustion can take place. Apart from supplying the optimum amount of fuel, fuel injectors must also spray fuel at a proper angle and must apply the correct pressure and spray pattern.
Is It Safe To Drive With Dirty Fuel Injectors?
Over time, fuel injectors will become clogged. The fumes and fuel leave a residue on nozzles, which over time start blocking the fuel injectors. In addition, fuel injectors can also become clogged up with debris, which can be caused by corrosion within the lines of the fuel system.
When fuel injectors become clogged, they deliver a lower and inconsistent amount of fuel to the engine. This means that the amount of fuel actually delivered to the engine is different than what the engine management computer expects, which negatively affects the engine’s ability to idle and perform well in general.
However, a fuel injector cleaning kit only costs about $70. Also, since it’s an intermediate-level job that takes roughly about one hour, you can definitely DIY at home if you’re handy with a wrench.
When Should You Clean Your Fuel Injectors?
There’s no common consensus regarding when you should clean your vehicle’s fuel injectors. While some drivers state you should clean them every 1,500 to 3,000 miles, others state that this interval could be as much as 45,000 or 60,000 miles. Check the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in your vehicle’s owner’s manual or the FIXD app to see if there’s an entry for this maintenance task.
The age of your vehicle will also determine the frequency at which you should clean the fuel injectors, with older vehicles requiring more regular maintenance. Since this maintenance task is relatively cheap and easy, it may be a good idea to do it on a regular basis. Doing so will ensure that your engine runs optimally and lasts longer.
What Are Common Symptoms Indicating You Need to Clean Dirty Fuel Injectors
There are several tell-tale signs that will warn you that your vehicle’s fuel injectors need cleaning:
- Misfiring engine: If your engine is misfiring, it’s not receiving enough fuel. The culprit may be dirty fuel injectors.
- Fuel odors in the car: Dirty fuel injectors can prevent fuel from getting into the engine, causing fuel to leak out of them as a result of the additional pressure.
- Vibrating engine: Dirty fuel injectors can prevent relevant cylinders from firing correctly. This can cause engine vibration while you’re driving.
- “Check Engine” light is on: When your engine is experiencing a problem, the check engine light typically goes on to provide you with a warning. Dirty fuel injectors may cause the light to go on. Use the FIXD scanner and app to scan your car and get more information about the nature of the problem.
- Trouble starting the engine: As your fuel injectors become dirtier, you may start experiencing problems with starting your car. This is because dirty fuel injectors may not deliver sufficient fuel.
Keep in Mind
It’s always wise to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and do this service as advised for your make and model.
How To Clean Dirty Fuel Injectors
Follow these steps to clean your vehicle’s fuel injectors:
Step 1: Find the Fuel Rail Test Port
This is where you will connect the fuel injector cleaning kit. Since they’re located in different places in different engines, consult your vehicle’s owner or maintenance manual to find it on your particular vehicle.
Step 2: Disconnect the Fuel Pump
Exactly how you disconnect the fuel pump will also differ from vehicle to vehicle. Usually, it involves removing the fuel pump fuse or relay, which is typically located in the engine’s main fuse box. You may also need to unplug the fuel pump wiring harness.
Step 3: Prepare the Cleaning Kit
If your fuel injector cleaning kit is not pre-filled with a cleaning solution, add it to the kit now. Hang the kit from somewhere under your hood so that gravity will feed the solution to your engine.
Step 4: Attach the Cleaning Kit
Next, you need to attach the cleaning kit to the fuel rail test port. Ensure that your air compressor is set to the correct pressure (consult the cleaning kit instructions to find this). You can then open the cleaning kit’s regulator valve.
Step 5: Run the Engine
Start the engine and allow it to run until the cleaning process is finished. The engine will run off the combustible cleaning fluid instead of from the fuel tank during this process, which is why we disabled the fuel pump. This should take about 10 minutes, or until the engine stalls when all of the fluid is used up.
Step 6: Remove the Cleaning Kit
Turn off the engine. Disconnect the cleaning kit from the fuel rail. Reconnect power to the fuel pump the same way you disconnected it in step 2, with either the fuse, relay, or the wiring harness.
Step 7: Test Your Car
Start the engine to make sure it’s running well off of its own fuel once again. If you reconnected everything correctly, your car should run smoothly. However, if you hear any unusual sounds, something is amiss and you should get in touch with a mechanic.
Still Need Help?
If you’re still a bit unsure about how to go about cleaning your vehicle’s dirty fuel injectors, or have questions regarding other DIY repair jobs, join the FIXD Mechanic Hotline. Doing so will provide you with access to our Master Mechanics from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.