Healthy Engines: Synthetic Oils & Fuel Injector Cleaner: Are New Technologies Really Helping?

On top of scheduling regular checkups with your local auto shop, you may have considered spending an extra buck on readily-available consumer products to keep your engine clean and running smoothly. While new technology claims to help your vehicle run better than ever, it’s often difficult to decipher what’s a fad and what’s actually helping your vehicle. Below we focus on two technologies — synthetic oils and fuel injector cleaner — to determine whether their impact on your engine is worth the extra cost.

Synthetic Oils

The first synthetic-base oils were trialed during World War II on both German and U.S. aircraft engines. The high viscosity index of the synthetics increased engine start speed in colder weather and cut back on the soot deposit build up that would normally occur when using conventional oils. Synthetics oils are still used in aircraft jet engines to this day, but gained popularity with consumer automobiles in recent years for similar qualities.

Comparing synthetic oil to conventional oil is like comparing purified water to tap water. Synthetic oil is a lubricant made of synthetic, or artificial, compounds and is distilled through a process that removes impurities from the original crude oil. Conventional oil is a few steps removed from this process, and is refined from natural crude oil.

But, just as tap water can hydrate you the same way purified water can, it’s important to understand synthetic oil’s effect on your engine. Just as it did with jet engines in World War II, synthetic oil can scoop up deposits in your engine and even reduce engine sludge that’s known to occur with conventional oils. It’s even been known to improve fuel efficiency, resist evaporation in high temperatures, and speed up oil flow in low temperatures. All of this adds up to fewer oil changes and potentially greater engine longevity.

Fuel Injector Cleaner

Even the highest grade of gasoline is not 100% pure. Each tank of gas houses contaminates that can build up in your fuel system. This can accumulate deposits in several important areas, which aren’t good for your fuel injectors.

Fuel injectors spray a mist of fuel into the engine’s intake air, creating a combustion that helps power your vehicle. To keep the engine running smoothly, this mist needs to be delivered at a high pressure. Contaminate deposits can block or lessen the intensity of the fuel injector’s flow, causing the fuel mist to be poorly integrated with the air intake. This potentially leads to poor mileage, harmful emissions, dragging, and slower starts.

Off-the-shelf fuel injector cleaner can certainly help clean up these issues, but should be used in moderation. As with most engine maintenance, be sure to look for the warning signs first to avoid any unnecessary tune-ups. If you live in extreme climates or make multiple stop-and-go trips, one bottle of fuel injector cleaner every 3,000 miles should keep you running smoothly; however, some vehicles may go as long as 45,000 miles without experience any significant fuel injector issues.

To understand if — and especially how often — you need a fuel injection cleaning service, have Atlantic Tire & Service test your fuel pressure and diagnose your fuel injectors. Just like the synthetic oil, it could help increase mileage and engine longevity in the long run.