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Thread: Fuel Injector Cleaners

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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Fuel Injector Cleaners

    Is there any difference in various brands of fuel injector cleaners? And are they really necessary?

    All my cars are MPFI, including my RV. I have never used any injector cleaner in anything to this date.

    However, in my RV, I am trying to take care of an intermittent OBD2 MIL of P0171 (too lean, computer cannot make richer--it's at the end of the computer's range to make richer). So far, I've done just about everything, such as clean the MAF (with CRC MAF cleaner), change the fuel filter, check the fuel pressure, look for vacuum leaks, etc. But I have not added any fuel injector cleaner as of yet. But dirty injectors can cause a P0171.

    It might already be fixed, as I have not driven it since I've done the above work. I just want to take care of all the possibilities.

    And does fuel injector cleaner burn like gasoline? Can it cause any drive-ability problems? Also can fuel injector cleaner cause any problems while being tested for smog, if still in the tank?

    And one more question . . if a fuel pressure spec is 50 PSI, is that to be measured at idle or is it to be measured with the ignition on with the engine not running, or should it be checked at a certain RPM or what?

    -Don- SF, CA




    Last edited by DonTom; 04-21-2012 at 06:06 AM.

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    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Is there any difference in various brands of fuel injector cleaners? And are they really necessary?

    All my cars are MPFI, including my RV. I have never used any injector cleaner in anything to this date.

    However, in my RV, I am trying to take care of an intermittent OBD2 MIL of P0171 (too lean, computer cannot make richer--it's at the end of the computer's range to make richer). So far, I've done just about everything, such as clean the MAF (with CRC MAF cleaner), change the fuel filter, check the fuel pressure, look for vacuum leaks, etc. But I have not added any fuel injector cleaner as of yet. But dirty injectors can cause a P0171.

    It might already be fixed, as I have not driven it since I've done the above work. I just want to take care of all the possibilities.

    And does fuel injector cleaner burn like gasoline? Can it cause any drive-ability problems? Also can fuel injector cleaner cause any problems while being tested for smog, if still in the tank?

    And one more question . . if a fuel pressure spec is 50 PSI, is that to be measured at idle or is it to be measured with the ignition on with the engine not running, or should it be checked at a certain RPM or what?

    -Don- SF, CA




    Hey, Don. I put a cleaner through my car every year or so - it does seem to keep the motor sweeter. STP is my product of choice but I will use whatever 'Branded' product is available at the time.

    Looking around the most popular cleaners seem to be STP Super Concentrated Fuel Injector Cleaner or the Chevron Techron or Pro-Guard Fuel Injector Cleaners.

    A couple of people on the web praised the Lucas Fuel Injector Cleaner but I could not find any trace of it on the current Lucas website. Maybe they have dropped it from their range now.

    STP do a Fuel System Cleaner which includes injector cleaning as one of it multi-attributes. I must admit I have faith in STP products having used them successfully, for many years, in the hotted up Ford and Mini engines I used to build back in the day.

    As the cost is minimal pick one, try it for a couple of tanks of gas and see what happens. Oh, nearly forgot, I could not find out whether it has any effect on smog emissions while it is going through the system - my guess is that as it is only a varnish remover it should have little, if any, effect.

    Ken.
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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    As the cost is minimal pick one, try it for a couple of tanks of gas and see what happens. Oh, nearly forgot, I could not find out whether it has any effect on smog emissions while it is going through the system - my guess is that as it is only a varnish remover it should have little, if any, effect.Ken.
    Thanks for the reply and info.

    I will have to add quite a bit of it to my 70 gallon RV gas tank. I already have several bottles of the Chevron stuff. I am asking a bit later than I should have, but I was clad to see you mention the Chevron stuff..

    I have not yet added it to the tank. It says on the bottle that it's best to add just before a fuel fill-up so it mixes well with the new gasoline. My RV will get a good test ride this coming Wednesday when I drive it 250 miles. At the first gas stop, I will pour in several bottles of it then fill up the tank with gasoline. The RV runs very well as it is, so I don't expect the injector cleaner to make any noticeable difference. It's just that I want to do everything possible to get rid of that intermittent code P0171. Most likely, it was fixed when I cleaned the MAF sensor. I doubt if was ever cleaned and the RV has 111,000 miles on it. It's a good idea to clean them every time the air filter is replaced.

    -Don- SF, CA

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Thanks for the reply and info.

    I will have to add quite a bit of it to my 70 gallon RV gas tank. I already have several bottles of the Chevron stuff. I am asking a bit later than I should have, but I was clad to see you mention the Chevron stuff..

    I have not yet added it to the tank. It says on the bottle that it's best to add just before a fuel fill-up so it mixes well with the new gasoline. My RV will get a good test ride this coming Wednesday when I drive it 250 miles. At the first gas stop, I will pour in several bottles of it then fill up the tank with gasoline. The RV runs very well as it is, so I don't expect the injector cleaner to make any noticeable difference. It's just that I want to do everything possible to get rid of that intermittent code P0171. Most likely, it was fixed when I cleaned the MAF sensor. I doubt if was ever cleaned and the RV has 111,000 miles on it. It's a good idea to clean them every time the air filter is replaced.

    -Don- SF, CA


    Normally, I suggest using a bottle or two to see what happens. SeaFoam, STP, Lucas or any name brand out to do just fine. Just make certain it is for fuel injected engines. Some carburetors cleaners can cause fuel system damage.

    Considering how many miles is on your RV, I think I'd go with a full system clean. On these, you disable the fuel pump and hook a pressurized can of injector cleaner to the fuel rail. Then run the engine until it stalls. This is really concentrated cleaner so anything that can be cleaned will be. With the size of your tank, I'd reccomend doing this type of cleaning.

    Do you have a metal or plastic fuel tank? Older steel tanks can rust inside. I like to add a large ceramic magnet to the tank across from the fuel inlet so any rust particles get caught on the magnetic field.(That's also the only time magnetism does anything for the fuel system) Small metal particles can get stuck in injectors and cause them to leak a little. A leaky injector can cause a rich condition. Since it doesn't quite shut off, the computer can't lean it out. If you know what to listen for, you can sometimes hear an injector that is sloppy.
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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    A leaky injector can cause a rich condition. Since it doesn't quite shut off, the computer can't lean it out. If you know what to listen for, you can sometimes hear an injector that is sloppy.
    Tank is metal, unless it's only metal on the outside. The stuff I have is the Chevron injector cleaner. Says nothing about carbs.

    Do dirty injectors always cause a rich condition? Is it possible for a dirty injector to cause a lean condition? I recently got a OBD2 check engine light, "P0171, bank one, too lean."

    The fuel pump pressure spec for the 7.4 L engine (year 2000, Chevy Express Van "cutaway" made into a Class C 26 footer RV) is 56 to 62 PSI at idle. At idle, my fuel pump measures only 46 PSI. Without the engine running, it's 60 PSI. There's another spec. that to test the fuel pump, block the return line and it should be more than 70 PSI. What's a good way to block the return line? Is being 10 psi below spec likely to cause problems?

    -Don- SSF, CA

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Tank is metal, unless it's only metal on the outside. The stuff I have is the Chevron injector cleaner. Says nothing about carbs.

    Do dirty injectors always cause a rich condition? Is it possible for a dirty injector to cause a lean condition? I recently got a OBD2 check engine light, "P0171, bank one, too lean."

    -Don- SSF, CA

    Head over to Home Depot or Lowes and get a couple of larger ceramic magnets. They are back by the hardware bins. Plce the magnets across from the fuel inlet. What you want is the incoming fuel to wash over the area of tank where it is located. Any loose ferrous particles (rust) will stay there. Over time, it can seriously clean up the inside of the tank.

    Dirty injectors can do all sorts of ugly things. Odd spray patterns, injector not closing all the way, not opening enough, or at all and so on. Usually, the fuel rail system will clean it. I have had to pull one once and clean it as the fuel was mostly varnish and had made a build up on the injector. The owner ended up replacing the injector. The injectors make a clicking noise when they are working. A trained ear can tell the difference between one working right and one that isn't.

    By the way, I talked to the guy who can open car doors with remote means. He wouldn't tell me how he did it. He has a secrecy agreement with a couple of automotive makers. I suspect he helped design some of the systems.
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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Considering how many miles is on your RV, I think I'd go with a full system clean. On these, you disable the fuel pump and hook a pressurized can of injector cleaner to the fuel rail. Then run the engine until it stalls. This is really concentrated cleaner so anything that can be cleaned will be. With the size of your tank, I'd reccomend doing this type of cleaning.
    I assume you mean a spare fuel pump and pump it in directly to the fuel rail somehow. There is no easy way to get to the fuel pump in this RV which is mounted on top of a 70 gallon gas tank. BTW, can flaky injectors cause the fuel pressure to be lower than normal? I am 10 PSI below spec. at idle.

    I have the RV all back together, so for now, I will just follow the instructions and add it to the tank. The next time I have the engine cover off, I will check into if I can do it direct somehow. BTW, will pure injector cleaner run an engine? It seems you implied such. That I wasn't sure about.

    -Don- SF, CA

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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Head over to Home Depot or Lowes and get a couple of larger ceramic magnets. They are back by the hardware bins. Plce the magnets across from the fuel inlet. What you want is the incoming fuel to wash over the area of tank where it is located. Any loose ferrous particles (rust) will stay there. Over time, it can seriously clean up the inside of the tank.
    I really don't understand how that works. Is there something that is magnetic in fresh new gasoline?
    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    By the way, I talked to the guy who can open car doors with remote means. He wouldn't tell me how he did it. He has a secrecy agreement with a couple of automotive makers. I suspect he helped design some of the systems.
    There must be a hidden gateway or something that they never mention. Must not be using the rolling code technology when that method is used. What does the item look like that he opens the doors with? Is it some type of test equipment?

    -Don- SF, CA

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    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    I really don't understand how that works. Is there something that is magnetic in fresh new gasoline?
    -Don- SF, CA
    I guess, Don, that Grouch is referring to the small particles of rust that form on the inside of a metal tank above the gas line. On a badly rusted gas tank these particles can be large enough and plentiful enough to block fuel filters completely. This is why bike tanks, especially old ones, are often sealed during restoration. It can be quite surprising just how much muck and sludge can be removed from an old tank at times.

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 04-23-2012 at 05:50 AM. Reason: Typo.
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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    I guess, Don, that Grouch is referring to the small particles of rust that form on the inside of a metal tank above the gas line. On a badly rusted gas tank these particles can be large enough and plentiful enough to block fuel filters completely. This is why bike tanks, especially old ones, are often sealed during restoration. It can be quite surprising just how much muck and sludge can be removed from an old tank at times.Ken.
    Grouch said: "What you want is the incoming fuel to wash over the area of tank where it is located. Any loose ferrous particles (rust) will stay there. Over time, it can seriously clean up the inside of the tank."Where is this magnet located? Is it located on the bottom of the gas tank on the outside of it? What size is the magnet, how wide and how long?

    -Don-
    Last edited by DonTom; 04-23-2012 at 07:09 AM.

  11. #11
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Grouch said: "What you want is the incoming fuel to wash over the area of tank where it is located. Any loose ferrous particles (rust) will stay there. Over time, it can seriously clean up the inside of the tank."Where is this magnet located? Is it located on the bottom of the gas tank on the outside of it? What size is the magnet, how wide and how long?


    -Don-
    Hi, Don - this is my take.

    Ignoring any contamination from bulk fuel tanks that are getting very low - which in times of gas scarcity can be a real problem.

    The ferrous particles forming on the inside of your gas tank fall into the gas and sink to the bottom of the tank. Incoming fuel, from the gas station fuel pump will wash across the bottom of the tank and stir these particles up. Some will inevitably get into the fuel line to the fuel filter and the pump. Fittng the magnets, externally to the fuel tank - somewhere between the fuel inlet to the tank and fuel outlet to the fuel pump will attract the ferrous particles and retain them, in a clump, on the bottom of the inside of the tank. I suppose, if one wanted to be totally pedantic one could remove the gas tank every couple of years and wash it out.

    As for size? - I would guess that, to some extent, the bigger you can fit in the available space the better. With modern magnets though, even small is very powerful. Got any old speakers? - they have good magnets in them or you could try the magnets from a dead hard drive.

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 04-23-2012 at 07:22 AM. Reason: Addition.
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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Hi, Don - this is my take.

    Ignoring any contamination from bulk fuel tanks that are getting very low - which in times of gas scarcity can be a real problem.

    The ferrous particles forming on the inside of your gas tank fall into the gas and sink to the bottom of the tank. Incoming fuel, from the gas station fuel pump will wash across the bottom of the tank and stir these particles up. Some will inevitably get into the fuel line to the fuel filter and the pump. Fittng the magnets, externally to the fuel tank - somewhere between the fuel inlet to the tank and fuel outlet to the fuel pump will attract the ferrous particles and retain them, in a clump, on the bottom of the inside of the tank. I suppose, if one wanted to be totally pedantic one could remove the gas tank every couple of years and wash it out.

    As for size? - I would guess that, to some extent, the bigger you can fit in the available space the better. With modern magnets though, even small is very powerful. Got any old speakers? - they have good magnets in them or you could try the magnets from a dead hard drive.

    Ken.
    OK, that all makes sense. At first, I was thinking Grouch was talking about filler hose, but he meant on the bottom of the gas tank itself.

    -Don-

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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Is there any difference in various brands of fuel injector cleaners? And are they really necessary?
    I've used SeaFoam with good results. It cleared a code that had to do with a throttle body condition.

    You could also check tune-up shops that specialize in cleaning air induction systems, injectors, etc. They use some pretty aggressive chemicals.

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    You can get Marvel Mystery Oil at Pep Boys for maybe $10 a gallon, probably a bit more now. That should be enough to treat a 70 gallon tank. MMO makes a difference, if it's going to, within 20 miles or so. If the injectors were clogged or gummed up, it will feel like you got a valve job.

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    I assume you mean a spare fuel pump and pump it in directly to the fuel rail somehow. There is no easy way to get to the fuel pump in this RV which is mounted on top of a 70 gallon gas tank. BTW, can flaky injectors cause the fuel pressure to be lower than normal? I am 10 PSI below spec. at idle.



    I have the RV all back together, so for now, I will just follow the instructions and add it to the tank. The next time I have the engine cover off, I will check into if I can do it direct somehow. BTW, will pure injector cleaner run an engine? It seems you implied such. That I wasn't sure about.



    -Don- SF, CA

    What you will see is a big can like a extra large can of R-134. It will have a fitting to hook onto the schroeder valve on your fuel rail. (It looks like a tire air valve because it's the same design.) You unplug the power to the fuel pump. Then start the engine and run it until it dies. This put nearly pure fuel injector cleaner into the fuel system. If anything will clean it, that will.

    Yes, a stucky injector that doesn't close all the way can cause low pressure. Other things can be a weak fuel pump or a partly clogged fuel filter.
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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    I really don't understand how that works. Is there something that is magnetic in fresh new gasoline?There must be a hidden gateway or something that they never mention. Must not be using the rolling code technology when that method is used. What does the item look like that he opens the doors with? Is it some type of test equipment?

    -Don- SF, CA

    The magnet just catches rust particles floating around. As they get washed over the magnet (there are actual fuel tank magnets but those can cause blood blisters if you pinch your finger with them putting them on) the rust particles stick to the inside of the tank and just sit there. I usually use 1X3 magnets I get at the hardware store.

    As for what he uses, it's about the size of a largish radar detector with a bunch of bread boarded wires and buttons. Alas, I'm about as electronically illiterate as it's possible to be. I can understand quantum mechanics and even understand why we can't go as fast or faster than the speed of light. Electronics are a closed book to me. I can wire a car radio up but if it doesn't work and is getting power, I replace it with one that does work. I had a devil of a time the first time I installed a radio that required two may wiring and not grounding the speakers to the frame.
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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    What you will see is a big can like a extra large can of R-134. It will have a fitting to hook onto the schroeder valve on your fuel rail. (It looks like a tire air valve because it's the same design.) You unplug the power to the fuel pump. Then start the engine and run it until it dies. This put nearly pure fuel injector cleaner into the fuel system. If anything will clean it, that will.

    Yes, a stucky injector that doesn't close all the way can cause low pressure. Other things can be a weak fuel pump or a partly clogged fuel filter.
    That extra large thingie that looks like a large can or R-134--what's it called? I know of no such item in my RV. I have checked the fuel pressure at the schroeder valve in front of the fuel rail. Is there another valve that you're talking about? If so, it much be well hidden. Even the valve to check the fuel pressure is hard to find as all the intake stuff MUST be removed to even see it. I already replaced the fuel filter. It made no difference in fuel pressure. Still 10 PSI low. Hopefully cleaning the injectors will fix it, but I really don't expect such. Anyway, the RV runs fine, even up the hills. I am just a little concerned about the too lean OBD2 code P0171 I recently got, as I have to get a smog test in the next week.

    BTW, I made an experiment with my Ready of Not unit. I did a full warm-up from a cold start, but did not move the RV. I just let it idle. Still all codes are "not ready". Even the O2 sensor heater. Obviously, it has to be driven to even get this 02 sensor heater as "ready".

    I am going to drive the RV 250 miles this Wednesday. I will keep the Ready or Not unit connected. I will report back exactly how many miles it takes to get all sensors as ready. It will beep every 30 seconds when all are ready.

    -Don-

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    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    That extra large thingie that looks like a large can or R-134--what's it called? I know of no such item in my RV. I have checked the fuel pressure at the schroeder valve in front of the fuel rail. Is there another valve that you're talking about? If so, it much be well hidden. Even the valve to check the fuel pressure is hard to find as all the intake stuff MUST be removed to even see it.
    -Don-


    The big can is the can of cleaner the mechanic will hook up. It's not part of your RV. The engine idles while it runs off the cleaner. It's extremely concentrated. If it doesn't clean the system, it's not dirty. As for access, I've often felt the engineers that design cars ought to have to work on them.
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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    The big can is the can of cleaner the mechanic will hook up. It's not part of your RV. The engine idles while it runs off the cleaner. It's extremely concentrated. If it doesn't clean the system, it's not dirty.
    Oh, you must mean this is something the professionals have to do, not a job for the home mechanic. I try to avoid the shops as much as possible. The RV runs very well. But I am a bit concerned about the P0171 I got as it's just a couple of days before it needs a smog test. If I get no more check engine light, I will have the RV smog tested in Reno on Thursday, April 26.

    According to info on the web., usually cleaning the MAF sensor (which I just did, after getting the P0171) will fix it. But I am concerned with the fuel pressure being 10psi low. Low fuel pressure can also cause it to run too lean. But if it continues to run fine, especially up hill and also passes the smog test, I will just forget that it reads 10 psi low.

    But if it fails smog or gets the PO171 again, I will check to see if I can read the voltage near the fuel pump. Since this is a 26 foot RV with the gas tank at the rear, the low fuel PSI could be because the fuel pump voltage is low by the time it gets to the load of the fuel pump. If that's the case, I can run thicker wires to the fuel pump, or at least to as close to it as I can get without removing the gas tank) to increase its voltage.

    -Don- SF, CA

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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Today, drove the RV to Reno and got a smog test. It passed. I ran perfectly up hill over the mountains. It would accelerate up the steepest hills to the 7,200 foot summit with no trace of any problem of low fuel pressure. No check-engine light in the 250 mile drive. This 7.4L MPFI engine had power to spare.

    There are no symptoms of low fuel pressure at all. But I am going to guess the RV being long is the problem, lowering the fuel pump voltage because of the long wires to get there. The next time I am under the RV, I will see if I can find the fuel pump wires and see if I read the voltage on them, near the pump, while the fuel pump is running. If the fuel pump voltage is low, I can change them to thicker wires to get more voltage to the fuel pump.

    BTW, I added four bottles of Chevron injector cleaner and mixed in 8 gallons of gasoline to the tank which perhaps had 30 gallons in it at the time. I did this withing the first 40 miles of the 250 mile trip.

    BTW, my "Ready of Not" unit seems to work well on all my cars, but on the RV it always shows "O2 sensor HEATER" and "Evap" as being not ready, regardless of miles driven. The smog check place found all sensors ready. I will check the software later with my computer and see if such things can be changed in my Ready or Not unit to match my RV.

    BTW, with my Ready or Not unit,
    after all codes were reset, it took around 20 miles to get the "EGR" to show as "ready" from a cold start. It took 30 miles for the "O2" to show as ready and around 35 miles for the "CAT". The "Sec. Air" never showed anything (doesn't exist in the RV and that lite just stays out). But the "EVAP" and "O2 HTR" showed as "not ready" during the entire 250 miles. I didn't believe it, so I went for the smog test in Reno, where it showed all sensors as ready and passed the smog test.

    I discovered later, that I can set the unit to match my RV with the included software and send it to the Ready or Not unit. Then it would have said fully completed and ready in 35 miles. My RV now shows as being "ready".

    So now I know it takes 35 miles from a cold start to get my RV ready for a smog test after an OBD2 MIL is erased, or if the battery is replaced.

    -Don- Reno, NV
    Last edited by DonTom; 04-26-2012 at 05:25 AM.

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