Whether you’ve got a diesel or gas vehicle, keeping the fuel system clean is a critical step to retaining the peak performance your vehicle had when it was newer. Typically when we talk about the fuel system, we’re talking specifically about the fuel injection system. This system is made up of “low-pressure side” and “high-pressure side” components. Working together, the system functions to deliver the fuel from the tank into the combustion chamber where it can be combusted to do what it needs to do.
If you were to look at all of the major components to go into a fuel system, you’d realize how complicated a piece of engineering today’s fuel systems are. Today’s diesel fuel systems start with the low-pressure side components. The fuel tank holds the fuel and helps maintain its temperature at a point below the fuel’s flash point. The fuel supply pump draws the fuel from the tank and delivers it to the high-pressure pump. Usually the pump will draw a volume of fuel greater than is needed by the engine. The excess fuel is used to circulate across components like injectors that needed to be cooled. Fuel filters are incorporated to help reduce damage and wear in the system that may come from contaminants in the fuel by filtering out fine particles and water.
The high pressure side is where you find the high pressure pump, accumulator, and where the all-important fuel injection apparatus components are found. These components play the most critical role in the final stage of delivering the fuel into the combustion area in a state where it’s ready to be burned. Without this fuel system area functioning properly, you’ll never get the most out of your engine.
Common Rail Diesel Fuel Injection Systems
Which is another way to say that having dirty injectors is an excellent way of holding your engine back, of preventing it from functioning at peak efficiency. The advances in today’s diesel fuel systems are such that today’s diesel engines are 95%+ more efficient than they used to be. And a big slice of credit there goes to the advances of diesel fuel injection systems like the common-rail system. Today’s common rail injection systems can do things the automotive engineers of decades past could only dream of. Even going so far as to be able to have multiple injection events, up to 4 or 5 individual injections, in a single diesel piston stroke.
All of this is for naught if you can’t keep the injectors and other elements of the diesel fuel system clean. This is where a good diesel fuel system cleaner comes in. There are two main options you have here. One is a keep-clean formulation, typically found in a multi-function formulas designed for continuous use. It contains injector and combustion chamber detergents that meet L-10 test standards for a “keep clean” detergent concentration. In other words, the detergent has been shown to be able to keep clean injectors clean over a given period of time under test conditions that otherwise would dirty the injectors to the point The other option you have is a one-tank cleaner, which is formulated to meet “clean up” testing standards that show it will take dirty injectors and clean them up to a state where they meet test standards for cleanliness, and do this within one tank of fuel.
Which of these is right for you?
They’re both good options and neither one is necessarily better than the other. Many times, a multifunction keep-clean formula will also deliver other benefits as well, like cetane improvement or cold weather anti-gelling, because it’s designed to be used on an on-going basis. Whether you choose a one-tank solution or a multi-function diesel fuel treatment like Dee-Zol, you’ll be doing your fuel system and your vehicle’s performance a lot of good.
Check out these other posts on Diesel Fuel Systems:
- Cleaning Diesel Injectors - What you need to know
- Accidentally mixing gasoline and diesel fuel - What happens then?
- Diesel Engine Troubleshooting: Black Smoke
This post was published on April 20, 2017 and was updated on April 20, 2017.