Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 27th 2012, 6:53pm

Hey everyone,

I know how annoying it is to have people keep asking the same question over and over again so I did search hard to try and find an answer before starting a new thread. I did find some info on my problem but not enough.

This is an update/new thread on the issue with my 1999 Astro. (I mistakenly said 2000 in a previous thread - duh!) The original thread is here:

viewtopic.php?f=43&t=14228

Originally thought it was fuel pump issues but the mobile mechanic determined fuel was fine, spark was also good. He came out with the diagnostic computer today and there were no codes at all. What we did find was that the fuel injectors are working intermittently. I snuck a peak at this computer and sometimes when we were cranking the engine, there would be a read out (47? is that important?) but most of the time it read zero. Out of 10 cranks there were probably only 3 times where there was any readout of the injectors working. He said he could safely say that the injectors were probably clogged.

I asked about cleaning and his opinion was that it wasn't a very good option at all. After telling me it would probably cost up to $100 a piece for each injector (x 6) and probably needing the spider part, plus his labor of around $350 to replace the whole thing, my head is spinning thinking I'm going to be shelling out over 1k to get this fixed. I immediately went online and saw some things about cleaning fuel injectors so I'm hoping this might be an option. (btw, the van is not starting at this point and I think that part might be important to know)

So all of my questions at this point are about cleaning these bad boys. What is the success rate? Is this an option? Should I have it done professionally and if so, what is the typical rate? Is it something I can do myself? I've done SOME work on Astros in the past but by no means am I rebuilding an engine. I've removed my EGR valve before (different Astro) replaced a heater core before (again, different Astro) so that might tell you something about the level of my expertise. I asked him to leave the engine cover off so the little valve that he hooked up the fuel pressure gage to is easily accessible still.

I really appreciate everyone's help....I don't have 1k to shell out on this van so I'm hoping I can find some answers here. Thank you!
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby paintdrying » February 27th 2012, 7:14pm

Not running. Can you get it running, probably not. Around here It is around 100 bucks for them to run cleaner through the fuel system. That is not an option because it is not running. I would think it to be a waste of time cleaning the injectors. Possibly just replace them. Tell us more about your van, year miles, condition. Someone will be along to throw out some prices
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby Phantom » February 27th 2012, 7:35pm

Depending on where you buy them the injectors can be priced from $60 -100 dollars each ,,the entire spider assembly with all 6 injectors cab be had for around $300 , it not that big a job to replace them , and you'd save all labor costs ..there is also some how-to threads on this site that have pics and all to help you through ,, best way to go ,,, cleaning them is iffy and no guarantee how well it works , for the money the whole assembly is the way to go
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 27th 2012, 7:35pm

That's a depressing reply....LOL. But you could be right....the thing is, when we were working on it, a couple times it ALMOST started.

One mechanic that I just called said that the van should've started when we tried using alternative fuels. That since it DIDN'T start that way, he felt that the fuel system was not to blame. How does that sound?

BTW...99 Astro, 166 k miles. Decent shape.
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby Phantom » February 27th 2012, 7:44pm

Have you tried using a can of starting fluid? ,, did the mechanic say what the actual fuel pressure was? There is a possibility you may have a leaking fuel pressure regulator dumping raw fuel into the manifold valley , not enough pressure at injectors , with a diagnostic computer the mechanic should have been able to locate where the problem is ,, unless he only used a code reader and not a live data scan program
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby DonD » February 27th 2012, 7:55pm

I've heard only positives about: http://witchhunter.com/
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 27th 2012, 8:12pm

Phantom wrote:Have you tried using a can of starting fluid? ,, did the mechanic say what the actual fuel pressure was? There is a possibility you may have a leaking fuel pressure regulator dumping raw fuel into the manifold valley , not enough pressure at injectors , with a diagnostic computer the mechanic should have been able to locate where the problem is ,, unless he only used a code reader and not a live data scan program



Phantom, the fuel pressure was 60 psi. I'm not sure what type of computer it was but I know that not only could it tell him any codes that the van had (which were none) it also showed him the readout of the fuel injectors. Most of the cranks they were reading 0 but I did see one time they read 47...whatever thata means. He didn't use starting fluid but he did use propane to try and start it...do you think there is a difference?
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby Phantom » February 27th 2012, 8:57pm

Starting fluid is a combo of things , and some propane may be in it , it often has ether which is very combustible ,,, If I were you , invest a couple bucks in a can of starting fluid and have someone turn the key to start while you spray a couple squirts into the throttle tube ,, the engine should start for a couple of seconds or so , since it is very combustible ,, it simulates priming the engine , it should not require the injectors ,if it does not even try to start for a couple seconds , you may have another problem like a defective crank sensor , for all or most of the injectors to go bad all at the same time seems suspect , it should at least start , may not run good , but at least start if you have 60 psi fuel pressure and good spark

how long have you had the van , has it been running good before this problem ? How did the problem begin?
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 27th 2012, 10:16pm

Phantom wrote:Starting fluid is a combo of things , and some propane may be in it , it often has ether which is very combustible ,,, If I were you , invest a couple bucks in a can of starting fluid and have someone turn the key to start while you spray a couple squirts into the throttle tube ,, the engine should start for a couple of seconds or so , since it is very combustible ,, it simulates priming the engine , it should not require the injectors ,if it does not even try to start for a couple seconds , you may have another problem like a defective crank sensor , for all or most of the injectors to go bad all at the same time seems suspect , it should at least start , may not run good , but at least start if you have 60 psi fuel pressure and good spark

how long have you had the van , has it been running good before this problem ? How did the problem begin?


Thanks Phantom....I will try that today with the starting fluid.

I've had the van for about a year. In hindsight I guess it has been plagued by this problem fairly early on but not to this extent. For example, there were times where while driving the van would be kind of lurching front and back....it might last a day and then go away and it wouldn't happen again for sometimes a week, maybe two. I haven't really had starting issues until about the last couple of months. I always thought it was because I let the gas tank get too low....or that I went a day without starting it and thought it was just stubborn. So pretty early on (about 3 months ago) it was determined by a couple of mechanics that the fuel tank was having problems but I really don't think that was it. I guess dirty fuel injectors getting increasingly worse over time might account for all of this. I'm curious to see what happens with the starter fluid today.
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 27th 2012, 10:45pm

So we tried starting the van using starting fluid and no go. So doesn't that tell me that it's not necessarily the fuel injectors? That it COULD be them but it's something else that causing the problem? Today's mechanic that helped me out said that the fuel injectors could be blocking any starter fluid getting to where it needs to be. One other thing I didn't say was that he hooked up propane to the schraeder (sp?) valve and it still wouldn't start...leading him to believe the fuel injection issue.

One other funny thing...there is a security light that comes on now and then when I drive this van. It has never affected whether it starts or not - that I know of - and it LOOKS like I just have regular key but I guess it could be the kind with a chip in it...he thought maybe there was something going on there.....
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby paintdrying » February 28th 2012, 1:44am

As I read through all your post i have not read the part where you talk about changing the plugs or cap and rotor, anything like that. Also, it would be in your best interest to change out the fuel filter.
It is sounding like you have what is called a tune up related problem. So you have some choices to make. Just dump this van and buy like a Hyundai something or other. Make sure it has a little spoiler on the back, and one of those cherry bomb mufflers. For good measure find one that was lowered with 50 series tires.
Option two, have it towed to a reputable shop, find out the problem and fix it yourself.
Option three is to move from the role of observer to manager. Your first plan as manager is to have a tune up done, or at least check the cap and rotor.
It is time to stop being nice, do not develop a relationship with the mechanic, hold his feet to the fire. If he said, okay found the problem where is my hundred bucks... Say ''" hey $hit for brains- you think I am an idiot, check the cap and rotor or get the **** out of here." If you see prison tattoos, make sure to kick something, or throw something. That is very important English as a second language, they all understand, no fix no money.
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby chevymaherchevymaher is online! » February 28th 2012, 1:50am

If your mechanic is saying the injectors are blocking the starting fluid.It time for a new mechanic.If it just not already flooded out. It will hit and run on gas,starting fluid,brake cleaner put in the intake tract.If it isn't I would be looking to see if it got spark next.
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby Phantom » February 28th 2012, 2:10am

djdawg321 wrote:So we tried starting the van using starting fluid and no go. So doesn't that tell me that it's not necessarily the fuel injectors? That it COULD be them but it's something else that causing the problem? Today's mechanic that helped me out said that the fuel injectors could be blocking any starter fluid getting to where it needs to be. One other thing I didn't say was that he hooked up propane to the schraeder (sp?) valve and it still wouldn't start...leading him to believe the fuel injection issue.

One other funny thing...there is a security light that comes on now and then when I drive this van. It has never affected whether it starts or not - that I know of - and it LOOKS like I just have regular key but I guess it could be the kind with a chip in it...he thought maybe there was something going on there.....

While it seems possible the fuel injectors may have a problem , as said before , with that many injectors not working , something deeper is a miss , if the the crank sensor is bad , you can have both good spark and good fuel pressure and still not start ,,, another matter to consider is the security system problem , if it is faulty it may be interfering with the fuel signal , the PCM may be cutting off the signal to fuel system , preventing a start .
It seems that you will have to do some testing and make a list of what you have done and what the results are ,, perhaps disable the security system just to rule it out , if it gets better you know what the problem is ..
spraying starting fluid directly into the throttle body should start the engine for a couple seconds ,, your security system does not use a chip in the key , that was the old way , there is a different setup in yours , I will have to dig out the disable steps and post them
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 28th 2012, 3:47am

Thank you Phantom....that would be awesome. Could disabling the security system be as easy as pulling a fuse perhaps? (If it doesn't interefere with anything else of course) Like I mentioned, the only thing I've ever seen from this "security system" is the dash light occasionally going off and on...nothing more.

Thanks for the other suggestions.....I cannot buy anothe vehicle...not even a used newer one. I need to figure this out. I had a long discussion with a different mechanic today on the phone and they will be coming tomorrow. They had some serious questions about the current mechanic so I will talk with this one.
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby Phantom » February 28th 2012, 4:48am

djdawg321 wrote:Thank you Phantom....that would be awesome. Could disabling the security system be as easy as pulling a fuse perhaps? (If it doesn't interefere with anything else of course) Like I mentioned, the only thing I've ever seen from this "security system" is the dash light occasionally going off and on...nothing more.

Thanks for the other suggestions.....I cannot buy anothe vehicle...not even a used newer one. I need to figure this out. I had a long discussion with a different mechanic today on the phone and they will be coming tomorrow. They had some serious questions about the current mechanic so I will talk with this one.

Wish it was as simple as removing a fuse ,, but to do it the right way , you'll need to use a Passlock II bypass module ,, the module is often very affordable depending on what brand it is ,, $20 and up

Here is a diagram for a 99 that you can check out to find maybe a loose wire connection ,I'd have to make a pdf on another computer for the 98 but I think they are much the same ,
and it maybe the sensor is going bad or maybe the parts in the steering column are wearing out causing intermittent issues , hopefully this new mechanic can shed more light in the problem ,,
Good luck
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 28th 2012, 6:25am

Thank you Phantom! Keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow....


Phantom wrote:
djdawg321 wrote:Thank you Phantom....that would be awesome. Could disabling the security system be as easy as pulling a fuse perhaps? (If it doesn't interefere with anything else of course) Like I mentioned, the only thing I've ever seen from this "security system" is the dash light occasionally going off and on...nothing more.

Thanks for the other suggestions.....I cannot buy anothe vehicle...not even a used newer one. I need to figure this out. I had a long discussion with a different mechanic today on the phone and they will be coming tomorrow. They had some serious questions about the current mechanic so I will talk with this one.

Wish it was as simple as removing a fuse ,, but to do it the right way , you'll need to use a Passlock II bypass module ,, the module is often very affordable depending on what brand it is ,, $20 and up

Here is a diagram for a 99 that you can check out to find maybe a loose wire connection ,I'd have to make a pdf on another computer for the 98 but I think they are much the same ,
and it maybe the sensor is going bad or maybe the parts in the steering column are wearing out causing intermittent issues , hopefully this new mechanic can shed more light in the problem ,,
Good luck
Original Poster [OP]
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby snodog600 » February 28th 2012, 6:06pm

Looking to replace spider assembly on my 2000...Can someone direct me to a thread on replacement procedure? Thanks !!
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby Astrodarmiss » February 28th 2012, 6:29pm

snodog600 wrote:Looking to replace spider assembly on my 2000...Can someone direct me to a thread on replacement procedure? Thanks !!


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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby snodog600 » February 28th 2012, 6:46pm

Thanks Astrodarmiss.... Great clip and should be very helpful !!
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Re: Fuel injectors bad/clogged - can I clean? HELP!

Postby djdawg321 [OP] » February 29th 2012, 3:32am

Wow...what an outcome. And what a great outcome. I want to thank Phantom and all of his (her?) work in helping me out and another huge nod to paintdrying. You hit the nail on the head paint! It WAS the cap and rotor!!!! Total cost for repair? $118 including parts and labor...not counting the freakin' $100 I spent on the first mechanic that obviously didn't know what he was doing.

My new mechanic checked spark in a different way, and that made all the difference. As the first guy only used a regular grounded sparkplug, the second guy had a special plug....a little tool apparantly first made my GM? A SF 150 or something like that? I guess it takes 25k volts to create spark with that tool as opposed to just 3k volts for just a sparkplug. Long story not short enough...we had spark before but not with the second one. Replaced the cap and rotor and away we go. I've been carless for 10 days. I was so excited that I just drove around the block a few times with no destination in mind.

Thank you everyone for your help and patience!
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