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April 01, 2019 @ 12:00am

Do Fuel Additives Actually Work?

Fuel isn’t getting any cheaper, and everyone is looking for a way to save some cash when they gas up. One of the most popular ways to do this is to buy one of the specialized “fuel additives” sold in gas stations and auto parts stores. These additives promise everything from a scrubbed engine to vastly increased fuel economy. But do they really deliver? In short, not really.

First, you have to understand what a fuel additive CAN’T do: They’re not a magic solution to all of your car’s engine problems and, according to new research by the EPA, they can’t deliver on the promise of increasing your car’s fuel economy. In fact, the EPA found that some additives can actually hurt your car’s engine by damaging sensitive sensors and parts. However, the kind of fuel additives you pour into your tank can help keep your fuel injectors clean and that can, over time, slightly boost fuel economy. Just don’t expect to get the massive increases promised on many products.

In addition, if you choose to use a fuel additive, you need to be selective and very careful when choosing a product. Fuel additives exist to support classic car engines, diesel engines, engines built to run on leaded gasoline and any other number of highly-specialized purposes. Putting the wrong additive in your tank can cause serious trouble.

One product we can whole-heartedly recommend is an upper end intake cleaner. Most engines on the market today are direct injection (DI) and while DI engines have many advantages, they have one big flaw: carbon buildup. Though not necessarily a fuel additive, direct injection cleaners do what many additives claim to do: They remove potentially harmful carbon buildup from critical parts of your engine.

When it comes to fuel additives, it’s “buyer beware.” Some vehicles need them in order to function, but any additive that promises increased fuel economy—especially dramatic increases—is an additive that’s best left on the shelf.

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