How to Tell if Your Fuel Injectors Are Clogged

Poor fuel economy? Rough running engine? These are all signs that you probably have clogged  fuel injectors. Although fuel injectors are an extremely important part of a vehicle, few people give them a second thought. This is probably because, well, fuel injectors are kind of boring – especially to the average Joe. But, if you want to keep your vehicle purring like a kitten, fuel injector maintenance is a must.

The fuel injector is designed to do just what its name implies – spray fuel into the engine. If an injector becomes dirty, it can’t flow as much fuel as a clean one. In addition, it won’t be able to produce the correct spray pattern required for peak performance. In a perfect world, the fuel filter would prevent all dirt and debris from reaching the fuel injectors, but the world ain’t perfect, so over time the injectors can become clogged.

Mechanic fixing fuel injector, two camshaft car engine

Besides particles that escape being trapped by the fuel filter, the injectors can also be contaminated over time by the fuel itself. Gasoline is a mixture of many different hydrocarbons (a scary term you probably haven’t heard since high school) including a subgroup called oilfins. When the engine is turned off, the oilfins stay behind, gumming up the injectors. To combat this process, special detergents are added to high quality gasoline, but overtime the waxy oilfins take their toll. This is especially true if the vehicle is primarily used for short trips, as the deposits may accumulate faster than the detergents can clean them away.

High quality gasoline has detergents designed to keep injectors clean. This implies that cheap gas will take you down the fast road to clogged injectors, and it’s the truth. The equality of the fuel you use has a pronounced impact on injector life and cleanliness.

When an injector gets dirty, your vehicle may begin to exhibit all kinds of undesirable traits. It doesn’t take much of a restriction for problems to start popping up either – a restriction of 8% to 10% is enough to cause an engine misfire []. A clogged injector can cause a lean air/fuel mixture which can result in all kinds of engine performance problems including a misfire, rough idle, hesitation, stumbling and lack of power. Also, increased emissions and poor fuel economy can result.

So what’s a devoted car owner to do? It’s simple – clean your injectors. Prime candidates for injector cleaning include vehicles used mostly for stop-and-go driving or short trips, as well as any vehicle exhibiting the symptoms mentioned earlier.

A clean injector is a happy injector, which is turn makes for an even happier car and driver. So don’t neglect the humble fuel injectors. Make injector cleaning part of your regular maintenance routine, and your car will be running like it just came off the assembly line for years to come.

The easiest way for a regular car owner to maintain their injectors is to add fuel injector cleaner.  Check out our fuel injector cleaner review to work out what would be the best for your situation.  Some fuel injector cleaning products also do a whole lot more than clean your injectors.  They can keep the whole system clean.  So you might also want to look at our fuel system cleaner review if you want a product that does more than clean your injectors.