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Fuel additives are a simple thing you can do to significantly improve the performance, emissions, and economy of your vehicle. While many of us are vaguely aware of the alleged benefits of fuel additives, it can be confusing to figure out whether or not they are appropriate for your car, and if so which ones to use.

Do They Do Anything?

The efficacy of fuel additives largely depends on the condition of your vehicle’s engine. A well-serviced engine that is in good working order probably won’t find much benefit from the use of a fuel additive. The best thing to do to improve the performance of these engines is to simply use premium fuel.

So, if fuel additives won’t affect an engine in good condition, then they should be used on older engines with high mileage, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Worn engines probably aren’t operating very close to their full potential, and putting a little bit of liquid additive won’t make much of a dent in their efficiency.

Most varieties of fuel additives on the market today claim to remove built-up carbon and dirt deposits from the inner workings of your engine. However, these claims have been shown to be misleading under independent tests. In fact, these types of additives can have little effect at all, and may even reduce engine efficiency by as much as 2 percent. This type of additive is only useful if it has been used for the entire life of the engine since it was brand new. I’m sure you can imagine the expense associated with that much fuel additive, so it would’ve been better to just use a premium fuel all along.

Other types of fuel additives claim to give your car more performance by boosting the octane content of the fuel, resulting in a bigger explosion in the cylinders. Similar to the additives that supposedly clean your entire engine, independent tests have revealed that these additives are largely ineffective. Some even harm efficiency and emissions because the engine is forced to waste energy expelling the extra chemicals.

Are Any of Them Worth the Money?

To ensure you are actually getting some benefit from a fuel additive, you must be very selective in which one you choose, and it is often a case of “you get what you pay for”. You are more likely to see the best benefit from a fuel additive with a very specific purpose, such as cleaning the fuel injectors or fuel system. These additives use powerful chemicals to remove dirt, but they are not a substitute for proper maintenance of your car.

If you think that a fuel additive will benefit your vehicle, make sure to follow the instructions and only pour in the additive when filling the tank. However, the best way to care for and improve your car’s engine performance is to follow the recommended service schedule. If it’s time for a service, or you would like some more advice, give us a shout and we’d be happy to help.

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