I took my car into Firestone. One of the recommendations that they came back with for my car is a fuel system cleaning. Its about an $89 service. Honestly I'm not exactly sure what they do for this service. Its something about "chemically cleaning the fuel injection system." They claimed that the throttling was a little sluggish in my car. I haven't noticed any difference although I don't really pay that much attention and can't really tell that my car was sluggish. Is this cleaning worth it? I guess a cleaning is a cleaning and it won't hurt. Its just one of those things that you really wonder if its a complete rip off or not because you'll probably never notice a difference.
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2007 Honda Accord Question: Is it really worth performing a fuel system cleaning?
Answer #1rpclements February 21, 2013, 09:49Journeyman
Try yourself- really simple. Pick up bottle of seafoam from your local autoparts store ($10) and follow directions on bottle.
robertgrove from WeGo2U Mobile Mechanic, February 21, 2013, 11:20Technician
First of all the answer is yes, it is worth performing a fuel system cleaning, if it is done completely and correctly, however there are different types of cleaning services.
Most of the time they are not performing a complete cleaning service, and in fact they are not cleaning the fuel system they are cleaning the intake system - they probably don't even know the difference.
I do not like the sales tactics used by many Franchise type repair shops to sell an otherwise legitimate service, making it sound like you have a problem and making it sound like they are doing more than they are. A truly complete and thorough service is time consuming and much more costly than $89, done right it is worth every penny!
All internal combustion engines build up carbon deposits in the intake manifold, throttle plates, backs of the intake valves, top of the pistons and the fuel injectors.
The most common cleaning service is a chemical drip, that is the bottle of chemical is attached via a hose to the intake and with the engine running the chemical is drawn into the engine trough the intake, past the valves and into the combustion chamber.
That is what you will get for $89, and if the tech physically cleans the throttle plates with chemical and a brush prior to doing the drip then it is a good service and good value, however, this does NOT clean the fuel system (nothing is going through the injectors, unless they add a can to the gas tank)and one can of chemical isn't enough in most cases to do the job thoroughly.
The only way the fuel system can be cleaned is by running chemical through the fuel injectors, either by adding it to the tank or running the engine from special equipment that is hooked into the fuel lines on your car and runs the chemical into the injectors.
A "complete fuel system cleaning" consists of two parts, a top engine clean and a fuel injection clean.
At best a drip service is a minor top engine cleaning, if they physically clean the throttle plates at the same time, it is a good value and will help, not hurt your car or pocket book.
The next best service is a thorough top engine/throttle body cleaning: the throttle plates are physically cleaned with chemical and a brush, then while the engine is running the chemical is flooded into the intake a little at a time until the engine stalls (this wets the carbon on the valves and pistons) and after letting the chemical soak for 15-20 minutes the engine is started back up and run with the chemical drip, burning off the loosened carbon and excess chemical. The whole process take about an hour and uses two-three cans of chemical, and no way will you get this for $89, the chemical alone is nearly that much.
A can of chemical can be added to the tank for cleaning the injectors, this is the best value and will clean the injectors over a period, of time but if they are really dirty (you would notice symptoms like hesitation, stalling, misfire) it is not as effective as cleaning the injectors with special equipment by running chemical thru the injectors while the car is running.
The most complete (and costly) is combining the top engine clean i described above and hooking up special equipment the run chemical thru the injectors, the high concentration of chemical thru the injectors cleans the fastest and best (on the car).
A minor Throttle body and drip cleaning is a good service about every 60k mile on any car, a more thorough top engine clean around 150k or if the car is run short distances and lots of stop and go traffic.
Ad a can of 100% Techron to your tank every so often should keep the injectors clean. i only recommend injector clean with special equipment when i have identified driveability problems related to the fuel delivery.
That's a lot of info, sorry if it makes your head spin!
Bottom line: not all mechanics and services are created equal
Robert Grove, ASE Certified World Class Technician, Automotive Hall of Fame, 1996
Mobile Orange County Mechanic Service Irvine, Tustin, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Orange, Anaheim, Mobile RV Repair
Mobile Mechanics in Orange County
ReplySonia2127, September 16, 2014, 12:55Rookie
Thank you so much for your advice. Very thorough, very clear.
Answer #3Greg's Orange Auto (14568 Answers) , Orange, CA - (714) 361-9386globalhelper February 21, 2013, 13:01Master
SEAFOAM WORKS GOOD BUT THERE ARE 3 KITS I STOCK. JB OR INJ CELAN OR BG THEY ARE ALL DIFF PRICES BUT RANGE FROM 100.00 TO 175.00 BUT WORK THE BEST. YES INJ CLEANING HELPS ALOT TO ANSWER YOUR ?
Answer #4ziptie12 February 21, 2013, 16:39Master
no............If you've been doing proper maint. it is not necessary. if done correctly as robertgrove suggests , it can't hurt , but if done carelessly , it can do damage to catalyst later on. Your car , your call.....Maybe a tankful of premium every so often would help.
Replyrobertgrove, February 21, 2013, 18:49Technician
Certainly use caution! The top engine cleaning procedure I mentioned should be done by a professional.
Good gas (I like Chevron), regular oil changes, and occasional fuel additives (Sea Foam or Techron) is important to follow and will minimize but NOT eliminate carbon build up.
Even with good maintenance there is ALWAYS carbon build up, especially at the throttle plates, valves and piston tops. Buying good gas like Chevron and using Techron or Sea Foam every so often could reduce or eliminate the need to do the intrusive injector cleaning with special equipment, but it just won't take care of the throttle plates, valves and intake build up.
Even with proper maintenance, a top engine clean is valuable preventative service, waiting until there is a problem is like waiting to change your oil until it goes bad, you can do it, but I don't recommend it!
Premium gas is not "better" than regular, it has the same additives, the only difference is the burn rate - regular burns quicker and premium burns slower require different ignition timing.
Just my two cents.... coming from 35 years of professional hands on experience
Robert Grove, ASE Certified World Class Technician
Automotive Hall of Fame 1996
State of California BAR Certified Smog/Emissions Instructor
check my credentials: http://orangecountymobileautorepair.com/about-orange-county-mobile-mechanics/
Replyziptie12, February 25, 2013, 16:51Master
I agree , but it is VERY hard to find techs willing to take the time(all trying to 'beat' the flat-rate) to perform the service properly as you stated.
Replypushrod, September 16, 2014, 15:18Master
Looks good on paper... All I see is papers!!!
Answer #5pushrod February 21, 2013, 17:00Master
If your car is performing as it should with no noticeable loss of mpg, dont mess with it. That's my poinion and may be wrong!
Replyrobertgrove, February 21, 2013, 18:58Technician
The service mentioned is preventative in nature when done prior to a problem and can help reduce/prevent longer term issues, why wait until the MPG drops or symptoms like hesitation and cold start/stall symptoms show up, better to be preventative don't you think?
It isn't required, but it really is a good service - if done properly! Just a can of cleaner dripping into the intake is like change changing your oil filter and leaving the old filter oil in the pan!
Replypushrod, February 21, 2013, 20:16Master
I agree in part, i too pressure clean the system when needed but don't sell the service as some chain store repair shops do.Depends on a lot of variables, here in rural Va. for instance, vehicles are driven longer distances from point a to b. Not much stop and go traffic! So when a customer needs the service along with a good tune up then absolutely i do it. Along with (OIL and FILTER) change if requested.
It is good PM though just depends on geographic location i guess as to what folks are willing to pay for. Indicative of this page.
We sell a lot of the Techron additive to our customers and encourage it's continued use. It's a little more tangible. Been at this a good while myself. (39) yrs. Man,-- maybe too long!