If the only thing that ever goes into your fuel tank is gasoline, you may be missing out on some benefits of fuel additives. Here we’ll look at four kinds of fuel additives you may want to consider using.
Of all the fuel additives, cleaners are the most common. Their purpose is to help your engine rid itself of carbon buildup and other gunk that can reduce engine efficiency, which hurts your mileage and performance. The main working ingredient in most cleaners is detergent. You won’t see overnight improvements, but over the course of a few tanks and maybe a month of driving, you could get an extra mile or two per gallon and find your car running more smoothly and quietly.
More power is what booster additives promise. These usually add octane to the gas already in your tank. Octane isn’t rocket fuel, but it can fight engine knock, which happens when the air and fuel in a cylinder actually explode before the spark plug fires. Avoiding this is well worth it, but make sure your engine is properly tuned before you try to fix it with a liquid band-aid.
One circumstance in which booster additives can add power is when a properly tuned high-performance engine needs higher octane than what’s locally available. If that’s your situation, then a booster additive can make a noticeable difference.
If you have a vehicle that spends extended periods of time sitting (maybe a car or truck that you keep at a vacation home, or one that never goes out in the winter), then a fuel stabilizer can be a great idea. Over time, fuel that’s left in a tank separates. The blend of water and chemicals breaks back down, and those elements break away from each other. When you do finally start the engine back up, the separated fuel can lead to corrosion. If you have a vehicle that’s going to sit for six months or more, putting a can of fuel stabilizer into the tank prior to storage can pay off when it’s time to start driving again.
Diesel fuel can gel when temperatures drop. That will mean hard starts and clogging fuel filters. Specially designed diesel fuel additives can reduce the gelling point of the diesel fuel in your tank below what Mother Nature can throw at you.
No matter what kind of additive your situation calls for, do your research. Check the ingredient lists to make sure that nothing is in there that could cause damage to fuel system parts or eat away at rubber gaskets.
Check out all the fuel additives available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on the different kinds of fuel additives, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Mike Hagerty.
Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.