What are Fuel Additives and Does Your Car Need Them?
Are fuel additives right for your auto? While there are some additive products that have found merit on the market, a lot of them don’t. Some Additives can be helpful in unique situations, some additives won’t help or hurt, some additives can have serious complications. Here is a quick overview of fuel additives.
What are fuel additives?
Fuel additives are chemicals you add to your gas tank during fueling to perform specific functions in your engine. While there are many claims on the packaging, generally speaking, these additives break down into a few categories:
- Fuel Stabilizers
- Octane Boosters
- Fuel Cleaners
What do fuel additives do?
Fuel Stabilizers are used for engines that will be stored. This scenario would apply to that vehicle you may be storing for your children to use at college or the lawnmower that will be out of use for a few months.
There are chemicals in gasoline that react to one another and evaporate over time. These chemical changes can cause your engine to ignite improperly. The general consensus is that you should start your engine regularly. However, if you're forgetful or away from your stored auto, these types of additives can be useful tools.
Octane Boosters elevate the overall octane when mixed into your gasoline. You are supposed to use the octane your car requires per your owner’s manual. Using less octane than what your vehicle is built to run on can cause problems for your engine. Some engines are built for the higher octane rating. That being said, there is little to gain from running higher octane than your owner’s manual recommends.
Fuel System & Injector Cleaners are not a recommended service in new vehicles. These additives can still be useful on older vehicles with poorly designed injector nozzles but even then, a large part of the problem was poorly formulated gasoline which is not as much of an issue today. That being said, there are diesel additives that do have benefits.
Modern Fuel Systems
Gasoline engines on the market today use GDI. This is gasoline that is injected directly into the cylinder and not into the intake runner or the air induction side of the system. The difference is in the point of injection relative to the intake valve. By injecting fuel on the combustion side of the valve, manufacturers have been able to get a more complete “burn” of the gas. That makes it more efficient, using less gas and creating more power. The downside is that gasoline acts like a cleaner, too. While the combustion chamber is cleaner because of the new process, the intake manifold and upper side of the intake valve are never cleaned. Oil deposits collect on the induction side of the valve and build up over time creating large deposits of carbon that eventually cause the engine to lose power and result in “burnt valves”. To avoid this expensive repair we recommend cleaning the air induction system every year.
The take-away on fuel additives.
Simply put, as manufacturers build more efficient engines, they are curing most of the problems that these additives were created to solve. The most important thing to remember is that these additives are not meant to be a replacement for regular maintenance. The best thing you can do for your vehicle is to stay up to date on your maintenance schedule!
We understand that maintaining your ride can seem like a daunting task and at North Hills Auto our goal is to make it easier for you! Call today to book our 120 Point Inspection Super Offer and get 4 free oil changes!
Call North Hills Auto at Augusta St (864) 233-9002 or Butler Rd (864) 234-1002.