Ask Our Experts

Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.

Add to My MSN

Do Those Fuel Additives Work?

2/23/2011 4:46:07 PM

Tags: mpg, fuel, gasoline, miles per gallon, mileage

Fuel AdditivesI have a friend who swears by those gasoline additives that claim to increase your gas mileage. I think they’re all worthless. Am I right? 

You can understand why people want to believe this type of product works. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pour an additive or pop a pill into your gas tank at each fill-up that would significantly increase your car’s gas mileage? But fuel additives — both commercial and homebrewed — are almost always a waste of money. With one notable exception (keep reading), these additives simply will not increase your car’s mpg. If you really want better gas mileage, your best bet is to drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, and drive it frugally.

To understand why so many of these additives are ineffective, it’s helpful to understand that all modern engines are controlled by the vehicle’s on-board computer. The computer relies on sensors to adjust engine functions, including fuel delivery, ignition timing and — on the most advanced engines — when the intake and exhaust valves open and close. Mileage-boosting fuel additives claim to increase the combustion efficiency of gasoline. But the automaker programs a vehicle’s computer to have optimal fuel economy with straight gasoline in the tank. Change the chemistry, and you may actually find a decrease in both performance and mpg — if there is any real change at all. Also, consider this: If there really were safe, cost-effective additives to increase fuel economy, wouldn’t some gasoline brands already be trying to sell them to you (along with their gas)?

This is a “buyer beware” scenario. Some of these mpg additives come wrapped in elaborate marketing schemes designed to play on our desires to one-up Big Oil, save money and do the right thing for the environment. Don’t buy it. Don’t believe glowing user testimonials either. If these testimonials have any degree of truth, any actual changes in mileage after using mpg-enhancing additives are more likely due to a change in driving style than to the effects of the additive. A strong placebo effect can happen when people really want these additives to work in order to justify the expense. That enhanced motivation makes a driver pay more attention to driving efficiently, and the results are predictable. (Affecting your mileage through your driving habits is easier than many people realize. I evaluate cars and trucks for a living, and I can easily alter the fuel economy of a vehicle by as much as 25 to 30 percent by the way I drive it.)

You’ll also find some people who swear by homemade concoctions to increase fuel economy. Acetone, sometimes mixed with other chemicals, is a popular DIY fuel economy enhancer. This mpg trick may have other consequences however, such as shortening the life of your vehicle’s seals and gaskets, and perhaps harming the emission control sensors.

So what’s the one fuel additive that is worthwhile? Fuel injection cleaners can sometimes improve fuel economy. If you or your mechanic suspects that your injectors are gummed up and not functioning properly, cleaning the system with an additive may help increase fuel economy by helping the engine work the way the factory intended it to.

— Todd Kaho, Green Car Journal 

Above: Want to make your fuel go further? Your best bet is to improve your driving habits. Photo by Fotolia. 



Related Content

HOMEGROWN Life: Let’s Talk About Poop

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel discusses using manure in the garden, includi...

Three-wheeled Truck Gets 72 mpg

72 mpg for under $6,000! How cool is that? Really, we want to know.

Resolution Introduced to Push San Francisco to Divest from Fossil Fuels

San Francisco may become be the second city after Seattle to join a growing movement to divest from ...

Can You Convert a V8 Engine to a V4 and Save Gas?

Two seasoned gearheads weigh in on the benefits (or lack thereof) of converting a V8 engine to run o...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

dapo
12/1/2013 12:18:42 AM
Have you heard of Xtreme Fuel treatment trust me it works like crazy, it gives me up to 30% on fuel economy. And my engine drives better. www.folaxft.mysyntek.com click on shop to purchase and try it is good stuff. And it's quite cheap to.

dapo
12/1/2013 12:18:34 AM
Have you heard of Xtreme Fuel treatment trust me it works like crazy, it gives me up to 30% on fuel economy. And my engine drives better. www.folaxft.mysyntek.com click on shop to purchase and try it is good stuff. And it's quite cheap to.

Jeff
9/10/2013 1:51:00 PM
I use MIX-I-GO. It was invented way back in 1927 by Robert Bell. It burns clean and captures water. I use it in a 1966 Mercedes 250SE with mechanical fuel injection. I get better performance and about 2 mpg increase. I buy it from the manufacture Bell Performance in Florida. http://www.bellperformance.com/default.aspx

MikeGXp3
8/20/2013 11:48:33 PM
Larry Gorman is right. Why would the fuel companies add something to their fuel so that people would buy less of it? It wouldn't make any sense. The fuel companies want to ride the oil express for as long as they possibly can. They do include additives to preserve the fuel based on pressures from the government and environmentalists, but everyone is the fool to believe they actually do anything but increase pollution. Oil-based additives can only burn "dirty." They can't possibly burn clean. Sorry folks. Only synthetics and organics can burn clean. See for yourself and take any fuel additive product (besides Xp3). Dip a Q-tip in it and light it up. Nothing but black smoke.

MikeGXp3
8/20/2013 11:43:53 PM
It's easy to see why most people believe "fuel additives" don't work. Most don't because they simply can't. What they are made of will not allow them to do what they claim to do. There's no shame in the marketing. The off-the-shelf products are not going to work. Check out the video at www.xp3distributing.com/aboutxp3.html. You'll learn why most products don't work and why this particular product does work.

SOSNOWIECPOLSKA
8/3/2013 9:08:13 PM

Hi there , i also changed my motor oil in my light truck today and i put about half a quart too much , maybe 3/4 of a quart too much , now i'm worried if this will cause demage to my motor and blow all my seals or just ruin my motor ,

and in europe they just use super euro gasoline 94 and 98 , the 98 must mean 98 octanes , their gasoline there is expensive , and it smells different a little ,

why they use 89 octane lowest octane gasoline in north america and in europe they use lowest 94 octane gasoline ,

anybody know why ?

eddmonton2010@gmail.com

tom

 


SOSNOWIECPOLSKA
8/3/2013 9:03:33 PM

Hi there , my name is Tom C. and i put so many fuel additives in our vehicles that now i have questions , i say the guy who writes the intro front page here is right , i also say that these fuel additives do not work , i'm not a car mechanic and i don't know what happens in the engine when it's going and working and what kind of demage happen through time , but i bought like 5 or 6 different fuel additives by stp , lucas oil products , and gas treatments , water treatents , fuel injector cleaners , also octane booster i put in there and it's all mixed, now i don't know if this is okay to mix and if it work at all , like the front page say maybe the fuel injector cleaner work a little ,

if anybody knows very well if mixing the gas treatments and water treatments all those fuel gas additives if this is okay on the engine let me know , because i'll stop buying , and some of the octane boosters go for 15,99  $Cad , and others for 6,99 $ cad , i might be wasting my time and ruining my motor ,

my e-mail : eddmonton2010@gmail.com


Larry Gorman
3/23/2013 2:58:00 AM
Number One, why would the oil companies want to use an additive that would cost them 5% - 20% plus profits? They use an additive in their brands now to comply with emissions pressure from the public and government. It's an additive that I would not use by choice. Over 4,000 additives on the EPA database website. If you want to use a truly legitimate fuel additive for gas or diesel, check out Omstar D-1280x fuel additive website at www.omstarworldheadquarters.com. I've been using it over 6 years now and I'm still amazed at the results I get on mileage (20%-30%) with my Honda Civic with 138K miles. I used d-1280x in my construction water trucks and stopped all my black smoke and gained 2 miles to the gallon and saved on less downtime as well! A lot of truth in most of Todd Kaho opinions on fuel additive, but he most likely has not used D-1280x or knows of this product. It has more docs on testing (over 30 years) by EPA cert. labs and by the EPA and found it to have positive results. Don't leave out politics as an agenda for not knowing about this product. If you only new the story that surrounds this product. Go to their site and read about the founders behind this product. The inventor was the head chemist at Standard oil when he was asked by the heads of state to be in charge of the fuel in Europe during the 2ne World War. I will tell you this, if you try it, you will never stop using it. It's an all-purpose additive and 100% esters and non-hazardous.

Travis Dooley
8/12/2011 8:00:13 AM
I Know of an additive that does work and works in Gas or diesel and has been around for 25 years Send me an email for more information mtd@clearwire.net

ERIK BJORNSTAD
4/19/2011 9:17:33 AM
Many additive companies prey on the misconceptions of consumers when it comes to fuel treatments - that you can use magnets to "align" your fuel molecules, that you can multiply the available energy of a unit of gasoline (which has a fixed chemical BTU content). I don't know that I agree 100% with what the author said, but there are certainly grains of truth to it - cleaning and improving the condition of the injectors and fuel system can go a long way towards improving gas mileage, because you restore the condition of the engine system to what it was at its new point, and this is the point where the vehicle is most efficient. http://info.bellperformance.com

MICHAEL R. LEHR SR
4/16/2011 1:02:04 PM
WHEN THE OIL COS. AND THE GOVERMENT TOOK SULFUR OUT OF DIESIEL IN THE SEVENTIES.IT NO LONGER BURNED GOOD. YET IT IS THE LEAST REFINED OF ANY BURNING FUEL OUT THERE,THE SAME GOES FOR GASOLINE NOW .BUT I STILL USE MARVEL MSTERY OIL,BUT WHO KNOWS THEY MAY BE IN COHOOTS WITH OIL AND BIG BROTHER.

Dave Sure
4/16/2011 6:25:12 AM
The article was brilliant in that it pointed out how we can improve mileage. I have concluded, after using fuel additives through about 25,000+ gallons after 38 years of paying the bill for fuel. Please consider this: Additives to our fuel is what raises cetane values in diesel, octane in gasoline. Temperature has an effect. Dispersal [spray] has an effect. Pour it in and it will not burn well, neither completely nor hot enough. It needs an appropriate amount of air as well. What happens when appropriate chemicals make the fuel atomize better? If it contains chemicals designed to burn better, why would we decide it does not work? George Orwell once pointed out: In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes an assertion of freedom. Some producers are deceitful. I know of one which produces the real product.

John Rockhold
4/15/2011 11:29:58 AM
Hi Chris -- hopefully you'll find these articles helpful. www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/2007-08-01/Gas-Mileage.aspx www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/every-gallon-counts-save-gas-with-hypermiling.aspx www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/Calculate-Gas-Mileage.aspx www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/2007-08-01/Tire-Pressure-Gas-Mileage.aspx

Chris_69
4/15/2011 9:52:54 AM
Thanks for the information. Now I'd love to read an article on how to improve driving habits for better mileage.







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.