Secrets to keeping your car running its absolute best: how to use fuel injector cleaner and smart tune-ups to stay on the road longer



Richie here, back it again with another batch of tips straight from the mechanic’s desk! Just kidding, I don’t actually have a desk. But let’s pretend anyway.


Now, a question I get a lot at the shop, just about every time someone comes in for a checkup or inspection, is what the secrets are to keeping a car running perfectly between service stops.


Truth be told, there’s no magic bullet when it comes to cars. They’re one of the most unpredictable things you can buy, and there’s a million different factors that affect how they’ll run for you.


Don’t worry, though. I got you covered with a few seriously effective tips that will help you out in the key areas. You do these things, or make sure to bring your car to the shop to have them done on a regular basis, and you’ll be good as gold.


The first big thing to focus on is your motor. It’s kinda obvious, but the motor is the heart and soul of any car. If the motor’s not happy, you won’t be either. Here’s two things you can do to keep your motor purring along just fine.  


Number one is to avoid ethanol fuels like the plague. If you don’t know, ethanol is basically corn gasoline, and it’s complete garbage. It was supposed to be all “green”, but you’re just burning food supplies, and it ends up pumping out more soot than gas does. The worst thing is what it does to the motor, though. Ethanol is the worst possible thing as far as messing up your car’s guts with sludge and crap. You’re basically choking the life out of your car with every drop you burn, and for no benefit at all. You want to run screaming from ethanol-seriously.


By law, most service stations have to use a certain percentage of ethanol in gas, because someone had the bright idea that corn lobbyists should make car decisions instead of mechanics. But if you buy any sort of a premium fuel, you can get around most of the ethanol content. Go for super unleaded.


I really hope somebody will talk some sense into the government and make the ethanol requirement go away, but we’ll see. If you want to be green, get a hybrid. End of story.


The other big thing to do for your motor is to use a fuel injector cleaner. I’ll get into why, but you should know up front that these solutions can also rectify a lot of the damage that ethanol has done to your car already. They’re also a foolproof way to boost performance in every other regard.


Basically, this is how it works. Fuel goes into your car, and down a pipe to the motor. But if it’s just liquid, it’s not gonna burn. It needs air to catch. That’s where your injector goes to work. It sprays out gas as a mist, which burns way hotter and way more efficiently. Most fuel isn’t perfect, though, and even the best fuel leaves soot behind when it burns. So, mile by mile, all that crap accumulates in the injectors. After a while, they start to trickle rather than spray, or hit the igniter unevenly. A fuel injector cleaner solves that problem, and it’s one of the easiest tasks you can do at home, since you just pour a bottle into your gas tank and keep driving. You get better mileage, more power, and less crud inside the engine guts. It’s a win-win.


No matter what you drive, I recommend getting onto using an injector cleaner. You should consider it absolutely mandatory if you drive any less-than-ideal fuel, like from a non-chain gas station, diesels, or higher-ethanol mixes. I think the best injector cleaner is Liqui Moly, but you can see lots of different options over at, which is a helpful review site I usually point my clients to. I’m partial to the german solution, but you can just as easily go with one of the other ones. It depends on how often you want to treat your system, and how much you want to spend. If you’re a diesel driver, I highly recommend giving this page a read:

Liqui Moly


I can’t really recommend one cleaner or additive for all diesels, since they’re so variable and it depends on your driving conditions. But that guide has a whole bunch of options, and I’ll vouch for any of them.


Ok. Now we’re done talking about your motor. The other huge thing to get to business with is your wheelbase. You should focus on your tires and wheels just as much as you do on changing your oil every so often. If you’ve got wonky alignment or tires that are the wrong pressure (or uneven pressure), you’re undermining your whole system. So here’s what you need to do.


Ask your mechanic about what the right pressure is for your tires–I can’t tell you exactly what level to aim for, since every tire is different, and it also depends on the specific wheelbase of the car. The point is to keep everything even, and check them every week or so. You shouldn’t be on the road without a tire pump, and if you don’t have one in the garage, you’re asking for trouble.


Then, each time you go in for an oil change, have your mechanic check your alignment. Most people only do that every year or so for the inspection sticker, but that’s not nearly often enough. You should really be staying on top of wheel alignment and make it part of your routine, or your handling can go wrong in a real hurry.
That’s it for now, folks. Hope you found that helpful. To recap, get better fuel in your car, and get your maintenance routine up to scratch: give your motor a regular cleaning with a fuel injector cleaner, and stay on top of wheel alignment and tire pressure. No matter how old your car is, or what condition it’s in, those tricks are guaranteed to make it run better.