Have you ever been to a filling station to buy fuel and the fuel attendants are marketing different brands of fuel saving and injector cleaning fluids to you?
Their trick is to size customers up, according to the amount of fuel they want to buy, and if you happen to be buying up to half or full tank, you become a target for marketing of the sundry products which they claim filter the fuel of silt, minimise fuel consumption and the maintain the car’s fuel injector.
An assessment of two popular brands of the fuel injector cleaners show that the manufacturers claim that they clean dirty fuel and make it safe for the car, among other functions. While the Quill brand claims that its fuel system concentrate unclogs dirty fuel injectors and restores lost power and performance, and recommends it for use at every fill-up, Visa Injector Cleaner is marketed as an octane boost high capacity cleaner that eliminates engine hesitation, dissolves gum, carbon and varnish deposits and improves mileage.
As popular as this practice is, what remains unclear is if these products really work or serve any purpose at all in cars.
A petrol attendant at A.A Rano filling station, Jabi, Abuja, who preferred anonymity for fear of sanction from his employer, when probed on the reason for hounding car owners to buy the products, said while he was not sure if they actually work, his motivation for selling them was the commission he got for each sale.
“The prices range from N1000 to N1500 and I get a commission of between N100 and N300 on each, depending on the one I sell,” he said.
“With the commission, I’m able to augment my salary of N20,000. Each time I remember that the commission is what really keeps me going, I do my best in convincing motorists to buy,” he explained.
Karuna, a petrol attendant at Azman Filling Station, Asokoro, Abuja, however, insists that the products work and admitted that he earns a commission for every sale.
The proof that they work, for him, is the patronage by motorists, he said, pointing to empty cans in the waste baskets at the service points.
“It is true that the commission of N300 per bottle sold is a motivation but look in the waste bins, everything you see was sold today. They wouldn’t be buying it if they didn’t find it useful,” he stated.
Experts however say patronage of the products by motorists is not proof that they are useful, but rather proof of ignorance of it’s workings, which the marketers prey on.
An automobile engineer at Glophil Global Enterprises Ltd, Agena Philip, said fuel injector cleaners were more of a marketing scam than a solution to any problem.
He said even though they filter the fuel to remove silt, in the long run, the injectors still have to be serviced as sediments of the silt block them and prevent them from functioning optimally.
“They may solve a short term problem of bad fuel if the car injectors are not already blocked but if they are already blocked, there’s no need to use the injector cleaner.”
Similarly, Peter Odoh, an automobile mechanic said he discourages his clients from using the injector cleaners because they cause damage to the fuel pump and the car’s fuel line after long term usage.
“It makes dirt to sediment at the base of the fuel tank where the fuel pump is located and this makes the pump to exert a lot of pressure to pump fuel, causing it to go bad overtime. I tell my clients who use it to prepare to service their fuel lines and change fuel pumps regularly.”
Odoh added: “One pertinent question motorists are not asking is why a petrol seller whose business is to sell petrol and make profit is also marketing to them a solvent to help them minimise fuel use. It defies logic and that is how you know it is a scam.”
A car dealer, Onimisi, said from his experience in dealing with cars, fuel injector cleaners are bad for cars, especially German-made cars, pointing out that the effect manifests when the car is parked for long, after having used the injector cleaners in them.
“It settles at the base of your engine and causes rust and all the other places it passed through to get to the injector get rusty too. It destroys the fuel by attempting to solidify it, in which case you’ll a fuel tank wash as well as change of fuel pump and filter, thereby costing you much more than you would have saved.”