Oil additives are touted as a way to reduce your fuel consumption and combat increasing gasoline prices. We’d like to separate the truths from the wild claims that additive manufacturers make in their efforts to move their product off the store shelves and into your oil tank. (For engine additives that do things like improve the compression of a very high mileage vehicle, that will have to wait for its own in-depth blog post.)
Let’s take a look at some standard claims and see what’s is true, what is possible, and what is not.
Claim: Vastly Improves Mileage!
Reality: Not By A Lot.
Do oil additives significantly improve mileage? The manufacturers of oil additives claim the bonus slipperiness of the oil will reduce friction in the engine. Realistically, engine friction corresponds minimally to fuel mileage. Things like regular maintenance, especially keeping the injectors clean is far more beneficial for fuel economy than engine friction.
Another term is “oil stabilizers”. The function of an oil stabiliser is to preserve the oil’s stability under heat by managing its viscosity, which is great- but won’t do anything for mileage. Technically someone could test an unproven oil additive and claim it improved their mileage by 0.1%. These claims of improved fuel economy generally have too little supporting data to be conclusive, and the experiments weren’t conduced in a controlled fashion, or cannot be substantiated by anyone else but the product’s manufacturer.
Claim: Better Engine Protection!
Reality: Quite Possible
This does make sense. Additives in most conventional oil protect the engine from dirt particles scratching metal surfaces and neutralizing harmful acids to prevent corrosion damage. The properties in these additives get used up over time, which is one essential reason to change the oil.
Oil additives extend the life of your engine by providing protection from extreme circumstances, such as excessive heat and pressure, that would break down an unadulterated and lessen its ability to protect. It’s worthwhile to consider adding a treatment that extends the oil’s ability to provide normal friction-reducing protection for these conditions.
Claim: Reduce Engine Operating Temperature!
Reality: A Little Bit.
Friction causes heat. It makes sense that one line of thinking is to reduce friction between various surfaces in the engine will reduce excess heat. Additives will likely make an impact in reducing metal-metal friction as noted above. But remember the majority of high temperature is generated due to fuel combustion, so expecting an additive to result in noticeable drops in your running temperature will lead to disappointment.