A happy engine idles as smooth as butter. We often see this when a car comes back from the dealer or mechanic who’s done a tune-up. A complete tune-up is filters, fluids and new spark plugs, but modern engines don’t consume these at nearly the rate of previous generations. So what’s the trick that mechanics are using to get an engine back to balance after many hard miles?
For years it’s been a solid three-step kit that 3M provides to OEM dealers and shops across the globe. Detail tweaks make it easier to use than ever – something even a DIY home mechanic can tackle with confidence. It takes about two hours start to finish and can be done solo or with a buddy.
Let’s dive in to some of the new kit’s changes and the advantages they offer for normal guys who’d like to restore engine performance, smoothness and efficiency lost over the years of driving.
The 3M kit comes in three steps and includes really thorough and helpful instructions as well as a DVD walk-through that make performing this maintenance a piece of cake. The main thing you need to locate in your engine is the throttle body box, which needs to be opened for access in step one, and ideally removed for thorough cleaning in step two.
Before you head out to the driveway, you’ll need: basic hand tools like a flat-head screwdriver, rubber gloves and eye protection glasses.
Step One: Intake System Cleaner used to be the most challenging step of the process, but with this re-launched kit the intake system cleaner bottle has a locking actuator trigger that precisely regulates the flow of cleaner into the running engine. The product mists into the engine via an easier-to-use straight hose that directly applies cleaning solvents around the combustion area, valvetrain and intake manifold. Once locked on, the can takes about ten minutes to drain and the 3M team recommends keeping the engine between 1500 and 2000 RPM during the process.
Step Two: Throttle Plate Cleaner: the throttle plates are notorious trouble areas that accumulate tons of carbon deposits and caked-on gunk. Anything that is built up in there limits the movement of the butterfly valve and is the lead cause of ‘racing’ and lumpy engine idles. The kit includes a jet nozzle to blast away the deposits with the same level of cleaners as the professional product.
Step Three: The easiest step is the last one, the Complete Fuel System Cleaner that you simply tip into your car’s gas tank.
Each of the three products are available individually but are designed to work together for the best possible results. We’ve all seen the dozens of miracle fuel additives that all make some very bold claims but generally don’t deliver any noticeable change. This kit’s focus on the intake and throttle body as the trouble spots highlights the importance of treating the engine’s front end before solvent cleaner is diluted into gallons of gasoline.
The 3M Fuel System Tune-up kit is available now at Autozone, Pep Boys, NAPA Auto Parts and Amazon for under $40 (plus a $10 rebate from Amazon) and is recommended for use once a year or every 10,000 miles. You’ll be proud of your work and will see noticeably improved performance and fuel economy. That’s a pretty cheap tune up charge, don’t you think. You know what they say, an oz of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Have you used a fuel system cleaner like this and see good (or bad) results? Think these types of kits help or just marketing hogwash? Share your experiences in the comments!