2002 Chevrolet Malibu: Gunk Removal

Q--I drive a 2002 Chevy Malibu with a 3.1-liter engine and approximately 23,000 miles on it. At my last oil change, my mechanic told me that I would not need a tune-up “until 50,000 miles,” but suggested that I have my fuel injectors and throttle body cleaned soon. He also said that my other choice was to start using a higher-octane fuel than my usual regular unleaded (87 octane). What do you think?

A--Removing throttle-body gunk buildup and cleaning clogged injectors are becoming the new routine services, taking the place of spark plug replacements. Part of the reason is inadequate additives in many brands of gas, especially at the low-price stations where you don’t know what brand they are pumping on any given day.

The cleaning may be worth doing, especially if you have drivability or fuel economy problems. Then, you may choose to buy gas from one of the big guys who often dose their premium fuels with extra additives, or toss a bottle of fuel injector cleaner in the tank once in a while.

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