When considering the vast and growing fuel additive market promising engine cleanliness, improved mileage and, sometimes, your engine performance’s revitalization, you may wonder if these products can live up to their lofty claims.
Some fuel additives come from reputable industry professionals trusted by leading companies. In contrast, others are essentially modern snake oil that does nothing at best or damages your engine at worst.
Fuel additive function also depends on specific variables. Let’s examine what fuel additives do, how they work and the difference between preblended and aftermarket options. We’ll answer once and for all whether these products work and if they are a viable addition to your vehicle maintenance and performance plans.
What Are Fuel Additives?
“Fuel additive” is an umbrella term for several chemical mixtures you add to your fuel, usually as stabilizers or performance enhancers. They have become ubiquitous in the automotive and fuel industry. These carefully blended formulas include the following:
- Corrosion inhibitors
- Cetane/octane improvers
- Combustion catalysts
Other compounds optimize the combustion process and elevate an engine’s performance. As technology advances and engines become increasingly sophisticated, additive use has expanded beyond merely optimizing combustion. Modern fuel additive formulas can tackle various challenges, from fuel system deposits to emission control.
Some advanced fuel additives offer more multifaceted and highly concentrated solutions to provide a singular means of improving engine cleanliness, efficiency and fuel stability.
What Do Fuel Additives Do?
Here are some prevalent types of fuel additives and a brief explanation of their distinct purposes — note that many products include a combination of these.
- Octane and cetane boosters improve the fuel’s rating, making it withstand increased pressure without detonating. These additives enhance stabilization and maintain optimal fuel flow and combustion efficiency.
- Detergents predominantly clean the fuel injectors by preventing, breaking down and removing carbon and varnish deposits. They protect your injectors and ensure optimal fuel flow and combustion efficiency.
- Dispersants are crucial in breaking down and dispersing harmful substances like particles and sludge that build up and clog your fuel injectors and filters.
- Corrosion inhibitors protect your engine’s metal components from rust.
- Anti-knock agents contribute to a smoother and corrected combustion process. Though octane and cetane boosters cover one potential cause of engine knocking, there are other reasons your fuel might burn unevenly.
- Fuel stabilizers slow down fuel degradation and varnish formation during storage. They are essential for seasonal equipment or vehicles you use infrequently.
- Anti-gelling additives prevent your fuel filter from clogging and ensure overall engine performance by guarding against the formation of gel-like substances in diesel fuel, especially during low temperatures.
- Ethanol stabilizers counteract the potential adverse effects of ethanol-blended fuels by preventing phase separation and the deterioration of fuel quality.
- Combustion catalysts, though rare, are available in our patented Fuel Ox® formula, which optimizes an engine’s fuel-burning efficiency by promoting complete combustion — leading to measurable increases in fuel economy, enhanced engine performance and reduced emissions.
Ensure these products are compatible with your fuel and engine type before adding them to your gas or diesel engine. Additionally, ask for an easily understandable explanation of what the product does and how it achieves this. The claims are likely too good to be true if there is no substantial evidence to back them and the supplier cannot answer simple questions regarding the product.
Preblended vs. Aftermarket Fuel Additives
Choosing a fuel additive means selecting between preblended or aftermarket formulations.
You may not realize it, but many gas stations supply premixed fuel options to satisfy customer demand or legal requirements. The following are characteristics of preblended fuel additives:
- They have a consistent mixture and must adhere to industry standards.
- Rigorous testing ensures the fuel additives meet specific performance and quality benchmarks.
- The products offer increased convenience for many vehicle owners, as the enhancements are already in their fuel.
- There is less control and customization — the refinery dictates the final formulation. Often, they only add basic lubricants, detergents and stabilizers.
Choosing between preblended or aftermarket comes down to several factors. The deciding component is how much customization and control you need over your fuel’s contents.
Since aftermarket additives can be complex, you might only choose them if you are mechanically minded or own an expensive sports car. Performance and fuel system longevity are primary considerations for fleet managers and other industry professionals.
Consider the following if you wish to use aftermarket fuel additives:
- You or your drivers must add these products manually when filling the tank on the vehicle or bulk tank, adding an extra step to refueling.
- Research your preferred suppliers to confirm product legitimacy and the most effective additives for your needs.
- You can find the most suitable additives by taking a hands-on approach to fuel optimization.
- You have total control over what you put in your fuel.
Do Fuel Additives Do Anything?
Studies into additives’ effects on fuel consumption and emissions have shown promising results. However, your results may differ based on several factors, such as the vehicle’s age and quality and your typical driving conditions. Additional research has also examined additives’ effects on gasoline and vehicle performance.
Another 2022 study on fuel additives examined whether these products work as they claim, and the findings point to some additives having desirable impacts on engine performance, emission reduction and overall optimization. The takeaway is that the effectiveness significantly depends on the additive you choose and its concentration levels.
How Can You Be Certain Fuel Additives Work?
The best way to ensure your chosen fuel additives live up to their claims is to purchase from established and trusted suppliers. The most reliable options are those used in the industrial or high-performance sectors, as these businesses only use additives when they gain a return on investment.
Also, you should carefully review the manufacturer’s claims. Do they precisely describe what their product does and explain its advantages? Be cautious of vague information — reconsider your purchase if a description includes imprecise words like may, might, can and could.
Know Your Use Case and Fuel-Additive Needs
Everyone wants optimal performance and fuel efficiency, whether you are a fleet manager, a construction industry professional or someone who owns a gas or diesel engine vehicle or generator. However, if you don’t understand what fuel additives can do, you have no way to accurately gauge these products’ effectiveness.
When purchasing fuel additives, particularly in bulk, you should describe your needs to the supplier and explain how you intend to use the products. For instance, putting fuel injector cleaners in a new vehicle will promote long-term cleanliness, though you will not notice any difference in performance or emissions. Place the same product in a 6-year-old truck and cycle it through as prescribed, and you will probably see results.
Do Fuel Ox® Fuel Additives Work? Find out for Yourself
Ensuring fuel additives’ efficacy involves a systematic approach, which means you need to be vigilant and not believe every marketing gimmick you see. At Fuel Ox®, we value our commitment and reputation and would not push a product to market unless we were sure of its quality and effectiveness.
You undoubtedly have several questions about Fuel Ox® before you browse and choose from our range of fuel additives, and we are happy to address any concerns or queries. If you’re interested in our products but have questions, please contact us online or call us at 844-838-9872 and we will gladly answer them.