What’s In My Fuel? The Value of Fuel Additives
Hundreds of different fuel additives are registered for use in the U.S., for both gasoline and diesel. But what do these added ingredients really deliver when it comes to improving your fuel economy, prolonging the life of your engine, or minimizing environmental impact? We decided to have a look at some of the most common fuel additive types on the market to figure out what’s in your fuel, and why.
Know Your Type
There are many different types of fuel additives, distinguished in terms of ingredients, intended purposes, and when in the manufacturing process they are added to the fuel. For the sake of clarity, we’re going to focus on chemicals and formulations added to petroleum before the fuel reaches the consumer – not after-market additives (they’re a whole other ballgame!).
What Do They Do?
The most common fuel additives usually contain one or more of the following properties/benefits:
- Deposit Control – these additives contain detergents that remove debris that accumulate in a vehicle’s engine to improve fuel economy and extend the life of engine parts (such as valves) whose performance becomes hindered by deposits.
- Improve/Speed-Up Combustion (including oxygenating additives) – enhance fuel combustion and thereby reduce exhaust emissions.
- Reduce Corrosion – like deposit controlling additives, these aim to reduce engine corrosion to prolong the life of your vehicle and enhance its performance.
- Antioxidants – reduce hazardous air pollutants (including benzene, hydrocarbons, etc.)
- Lubricity – especially important in diesel fuels, in which sulphur content (diesel’s main source of lubricity) has decreased over the years as part of emissions control.
- Stability – chemicals added to stabilize fuel from separating.
- Anti-icing additives – used mainly in colder climates, to improve vehicular performance in winter weather.
These fuel additives, as mentioned, are already present by the time you pull up to the pump. Manufacturers choose certain combinations of ingredients (called “additive packages”) that complement each fuel type, and that improve it for better performance in your vehicle.
If They’re Already In My Fuel, Why Do I Need to Know About Them?
Not all additives are created equal; fuel that meets minimum legislated standards will not be as effective as gasoline products with detergent or corrosion-reducing additives, for example, so it pays to do your research. For example, many consumers and mechanics swear by Top Tier gasoline products, which have been enhanced with detergent additives to remove engine buildup and improve engine performance and longevity.
And if you’re worried about already high gas prices, fear not: choosing Top Tier doesn’t have to mean choosing premium gasoline. In fact, there are Top Tier gasoline products of every fuel grade, and available from a long list of vendors, including many that you probably already frequent.
Knowing about fuel additives helps you better understand your engine, so that you can do everything in your power to improve your fuel economy and reduce engine wear – two steps that will go a long way towards extending the life of your vehicle.