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February 12, 2012

Car Talk

Is induction service really worth the money?

Dear Tom and Ray:
The local Honda dealer charges $120 for a fuel-induction service every 30,000 miles. I can buy a can of BG 44K injector cleaner as a gas additive for $20. Does the gas-additive cleaner work as well as the dealer's induction service? If the gas additive is sufficient, how often should it be done? Or am I wasting my money on both options? — John

Tom: For $120, the dealer probably is hooking your engine up to a machine that forces a solvent through the fuel system and cleans the injectors. The cans of BG 44K and Chevron Techron do similar things, although the machine probably does a better job.

Ray: But I would guess that the dealer also is cleaning the electronic throttle area — the fuel additives won't do that. That has to be sprayed separately.

Tom: You can find out by asking the dealer exactly what's included in his fuel induction service. If he says, "We dump in a can of fuel cleaner," you have your answer. But I'm guessing it's more than that.

Ray: On the other hand, you may not need any of these things. Unless you're having problems with misfires or rough idling, it's unlikely that anything's dirty enough to worry about. Gasolines have enough detergents in them these days that dirty fuel systems rarely are a problem. Especially on cars with fewer than 100,000 miles on them.

Tom: So unless the engine is idling roughly, or the computer has stored a code indicating misfires, I think you can save the $120. And the $20, John.

(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)

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