What are Fuel Additives?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Fuel additives are compounds formulated to enhance the quality and efficiency of the fuels used in motor vehicles. In some cases, the supplier incorporates the additive into the gasoline itself; at other times, the fuel additive is sold as a separate product that consumers may use to improve or maintain the performance of their engines. While some auto mechanics place a great deal of emphasis on using fuel additives or purchasing gasoline that is infused with the additional protectants or performance boosters, others question the effectiveness of additive products.

After it is denatured, ethanol can be used as a fuel additive.
After it is denatured, ethanol can be used as a fuel additive.

There are several benefits associated with the use of additives. One of the main advantages has to do with engine performance. With some fuel oil additives, the product is claimed to boost the octane level of the gasoline, providing the engine with more power from the same amount of gas. The end result is the ability to travel further on gas infused with additives than would be possible otherwise.

Engine maintenance is another common benefit cited by the supporters of fuel additives. With these types of enhancement products, the focus is on preventing the buildup of sludge and other deposits in different areas of the engine. Because there is less buildup in the lines and many of the moving parts on the motor, less stress is placed on the engine during operation, effectively prolonging the life of the vehicle.

Along with preventing buildup in the motor, additives are claimed to also enhance proper lubrication of working components. This particular benefit means less wear and tear on the moving parts, which translates into lower and less frequent repairs during the life of the car or truck. From this perspective, spending a little extra for additive-infused gasoline or buying stand-alone additives can save a great deal of money over a period of several years.

There are fuel additives formulated to work with unleaded gasoline as well as diesel fuels. Diesel additives often offer the benefit of functioning as an antioxidant that helps to minimize corrosion within the engine as well as antiknock agents to ease the stress on engine pistons. As with any type of fuel enhancing agent, it is possible to purchase a diesel additive from any auto parts retail outlet that sells diesel related products.

While most people agree that some of the basic fuel additives found in many gasoline products today are of some benefit, there is some question regarding the use of over the counter additives. Proponents claim the product boost the protection offered by the gasoline products and make a significant difference in how well a vehicle performs. Opponents claim that over-the-counter additives for fuel provide no extra benefits and in fact could damage the engines if nor used properly.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


How do I determine the right additive?


Are fuel additives also petrol additives?


are fuel additives also petrol additives


Fact is, anything can damage the engine if not used properly. lol. Which is why all these additives come with warnings as well as instructions/directions on how to use them; particularly how many gallons of fuel to add to the tank (most treat 8-20 gallons of fuel, any less than that, could cause over-concentration of additive, which could cause problems I suppose; but any more than that would over-dilute the additive, and likely not have any effect at all). Some additives will say to add the fuel first, then the additive; others will say, to add the additive first, then the fuel. lol. It all amounts to reading the directions :) The way I look at it, the stores wouldn't be selling them if they didn't work, or if they were breaking down people's cars. Furthermore, the manufacturers wouldn't be selling them if they destroyed vehicles :)

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