Fuel Additives - Do they really work?
I recently mentioned to some friends that I was planning to write some articles on fuel additives and was surprised when some commented that they were unsure of the efficacy or value in fuel additives in general.
When I asked why, the answer was, in short, YouTube. Given the uncensored nature of the internet, a few had seen some unverified videos showing fuel additives being ‘tested and proven worthless’ by random people on their car. It seemed only right that I try to redress the balance with some factual findings and tests results from Shrieve’s PHD qualified Chemist and other suitably eminent Chemists who have spent years contemplating fuel additives.
So, do fuel additives work?
The simple answer is YES, they work, but like all chemical formulations, there is no ‘one size fits all’ - not all additives do the same job as well as others. Horses for courses if you will.
Part of the challenge facing an additive blender is the diversity of engines in use on our roads. Older cars may use more fuel as the engines are inefficient and they rely on less pressure to deliver the fuel. Newer vehicles work under extreme pressures and to achieve this pressure the apertures the fuel is forced through are tiny so the slightest debris can affect the fuel delivery.
Vehicle fuel, be it gasoline (petrol) or diesel, is carbon based and over time, this carbon leaves deposits. If left untreated, these deposits cause a barrier of resistance to the flow of the fuel and can even block the flow entirely. Expressions like ‘the car is running rough’ or ‘it is pinking’ have been used for years. This ‘rough running’ is a classic symptom of when fuel delivery to the engine is being hindered.
If you’re not a rugby fan then feel free to skip this part, but a favourite analogy of mine is that fuel delivery is like taking a line out throw in rugby. The ball will travel easily to the end of the line if no hands can touch the ball, but, if hands start to touch the travelling ball the ball falls short of its destination, or it reaches later than it would have done originally. Failure to reach the target area at the right time in a fuel system means that fuel and the air do not arrive simultaneously, and the spark or combustion is out of sync. The energy contained in the fuel is therefore not maximised, resulting in wasted energy. This wasted energy shows itself as exhaust fumes, which, as we all now understand, are harmful to the environment.
What is the purpose of fuel additives?
The purpose of a fuel additive is quite simply to clean up or to prevent the build-up of said carbon deposits in the fuel line. You can find fuel additives for both diesel and gasoline which are designed to prevent carbon deposits.
What benefits can you expect to see from using fuel additives?
The direct benefit of preventing carbon deposits is that fuel energy is maximised; reducing the number of nasties emitted from the exhaust and reducing the costs to travel as you improve fuel consumption performance by keeping the fuel burning efficiently.
Have you ever noticed that your vehicle delivers a better fuel consumption performance when the engine is warm? This is because a warm vehicle performs better than a cold one by maximising the efficiency of the burning of the fuel. Additives do this too; they help engines and fuel systems to operate efficiently.
Need further convincing of the benefits of fuel additives?
Using a fuel additive will reduce your overall maintenance costs by protecting the fuel lines, the injectors and essentially every area that the fuel runs over.
Replacing injectors is a costly job that can be eliminated simply by using a fuel additive in your fuel. High quality engine oils also play a huge part in this too, regular servicing and systematic use of an effective fuel additive are the cheapest form of maintenance you can follow.
I am no chemist, but I have worked with many great ones over the years, especially here at Shrieve. So, if you need convincing, take it from them, not me that fuel additives are a more than worthwhile addition to your engines.
Prevention and Cure
Fuel additives are both a preventor and a cure for poor running vehicles. If you buy and run a vehicle and use fuel with additives from day one, then you should be able to prevent entirely any deposit build up. But if you buy an older vehicle and are unsure of its history then a high dose of fuel additives once or twice will enable you to burn away these built-up deposits over time - thus allowing your vehicle to work as it once did when it left the factory.
At Shrieve, we advise two treat rates for our additives; the lower dose is for regular ‘keep clean’ use and is our ‘preventor’ product. The higher dose rate is for the ‘clean up’ process and is our ‘cure’ rate.
I hope to have dispelled some YouTube myths and if you would like to discuss either of our fuel additive products then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, IBennett@shrieve.com.
Ian Bennett, Business Development Manager, Fuel Additives