Recommend this product?
Let me tell your right off the bat that I'm not one to believe in snake oil.
Now that that's out of the way, about 2 months ago, I had my 2006 Honda Civic in for an oil change. They tried to sell me their injector cleaner product. But these services and products are notoriously overpriced. Now, I do believe that an occasional treatment to keep the injectors clean is probably not a bad idea. Although they say with the detergent gas today, maybe it's not necessary.
If you are not familiar with modern automobile engines, each cylinder has an injector that lets in a precise amount of fuel, and is controlled by the computer. There are various sensors that monitor the process, and adjustments are made faster than you can blink an eye. And presumably, the computer and host of sensors can compensate for changes and degradation in your engine as the car ages.
Back to the injectors, if you think about your faucet, and especially if you have hard water, junk collects at the opening. The same thing happens with your injectors over time. This can choke off, or disrupt the squirt of fuel into the cylinder. And this must have an effect on engine performance in the long run. Injector cleaner is intended to remove those deposits, and return the injector fuel path to near new condition.
I've used other Lucas Oil products, and have a level of trust in them. So I picked up a small bottle when I was at my local parts store. Next time I filled up, I dumped this in first and added fuel on top to help with the mixing (although, I would expect brownian motion to take care of this even if you added this after a fill-up).
About the Product
This product is both an injector cleaner and an upper cylinder lubricant. I really wanted to know what was in it. Since they don't list it on their bottle, I decided to call up the Material Safety Data Sheet, or MSDS, that is required to inform users of products that may be flammable, or cause health hazards. The published MSDS sheet stated that it is a Hydrotreated Heavy Paraffinic Distillate, but beyond that, no further insight was provided; there must be some secret ingredients in it. That particular chemical formulation is contained in everything from automotive additives to sunblock and deodorant. I can tell you that for health and flammability it is rated as a 1 on a scale from 0 to 4, and a zero for reactivity. So, it's a pretty safe product to use.
The product web site brags about lubricating valves, rings, and cylinder walls, as well as carburetors and pumps. 5.25 oz treats 20 gallons of gas or diesel. And they say that over-treatment will not be harmful (other than your wallet perhaps). If you use this for a diesel engine, it complies with the Federal Low Sulfur Content Requirements. I was also pleased to note that this product was made in the USA. And it states that it is environmantally friendly.
So, How Well Does It Work?
I'm a mechanical engineer. I keep an excruciating level of data on the fuel usage of my vehicles, and can tell you what my MPG per tank is, and the over all MPG. In 2009 my average was 36.18, in 2010 the average was 35.65. The only time my per tank mileage exceeded 40 MPG was during trips to PA where 95% of the trip was highway driving. Beginning January of 2011, when gas prices once again rose above $3/ gallon I paid more attention to my speed, which has increased my fuel economy by about 5% (my way of sticking it to the oil companies).
However, 4 fill-ups ago, I observed a sudden unexplained increase in my fuel economy of an additional 7 to 10 %. I was dumbfounded. At the time, I could not explain it. This was my normal daily commute to work (50% HW, 50% city), it even included some air conditioner use, and stop and go traffic in the highway construction zone which usually kills my mileage. So I had no explaination. I had completely forgotten about this fuel treatment that was added prior to the previous fill up. And, I wasn't even expecting an improvement in fuel economy, I just wanted cleaner injectors.
The improved fuel economy lasted for 3 tanks, and then dropped off to the previous normal miles per gallon. This sort of makes sense since I used the full container for a 10 gallon fill up in a 12.5 gallon tank which was about twice as much as recommended, and then I filled up with another 10 gallons which mixed with the over treated 2.5 gallons, resulting in a somewhat weaker mixture. By the 3rd or 4th tank, the benefit wore off. I am curious to see what effect this has on winter mileage. There is a definite drop in fuel economy from January to March when the oil companies must add something to the gas for cold weather operation.
My Civic is pretty peppy as it is, so I can't say that it has resulted in any performance improvements. Nor can I attest that my injectors are cleaner. I can say that something resulted in an unexplained improvement in my fuel economy. As such, I believe that this fuel additive has resulted in an improvement in the operation of my vehicle and it is not just Snake Oil. That said, I am not yet ready to give this a full fledged 5 stars. But I do believe that it has resulted in a marked improvement in my gas mileage. I continue to track my fuel economy, and will update my review to 5 stars when I have conclusive data, from another 3 or 4 fill-ups. If on the other hand, I am unable to repeat the results, I may consider dropping my rating to 3 stars because they do make a claim that it will improve fuel economy and pay for itself.
With respect to a fuel economy improvement, I really wouldn't take my word on it. I would test it out yourself and verify that it makes a difference in your bottom line. But, if I can save 10% at the pump by adding a bottle of this every 3 or 4 tanks, that will definitely result in real money savings of about $4 per fill up (your mileage may vary). But to really measure an improvement, you need to know that you have accounted for all the variables, and you need previous gas mileage history.
In any case, at about $6 per small bottle, I would still recommend you use this to clean your injectors. I've seen it recommended every 10,000 miles. Even if my long term test is less than stellar, I will still ues this as a periodic maintenance action.
(Update 8/12/11) After not putting any of this in my Civic's tank for 3 fillups, my mileage was back down to 35 to 36 MPG. On the next fill up, I added 3 oz to my tank, and it was right back up to 41 MPG. This stuff really does work in my Civic. In our Odyssey, the initial results are less dramatic. My wife primarily drives this vehicle, and she makes more jack rabbit starts and stops, and does more around town driving. In this case, the mileage is dominated by acceleration. And I don't think this product will help as much. We are on our 2nd fillup in the van using this product, and have not seen the dramatic increase I had hoped for there. I expect to see a slight increase in the average MPG in the end, and will provide another update when I have more data. I have increased my rating to 5 stars because for me, in my Civic it does what it proclaims and more than offsets the cost.
Thanks to Rex (scmrak) for the quick addition of this product!
Ease of Application: Excellent; a breeze to apply and shine - lasts forever