Automotive Tips: Tips On Using Fuel Additives

Learn what you should know about gas supplements, or additive. Consumer guide to these products many of which are scams.

Before you spend your hard earned money pouring a bottle of fuel additive into your gas tank, think about what you expect it to do and find out if your chosen additive is able to fulfill that expectation or if it is even necessary. Many people use fuel additives in the hopes of improving their mileage, making their engines run better, or extending the lives of their vehicles. Yet, while the properties of fuel additives can positively affect these things, so does proper maintenance, which can render the use of fuel additives redundant and unnecessary.

Assuming a vehicle has been maintained properly from the start, a fuel additive should not be necessary. Name-brand gasoline already contains additives. If your vehicle gets heavy-duty usage, you may want to consider filling your tank with a higher grade of gasoline, which contains even more additives, but you still shouldn't need a separate additive.

If your vehicle is not performing well -- if the engine is knocking or losing its pep -- it will need to be serviced by an auto mechanic. Fuel additives cannot repair damage. The purpose of fuel additives is simply to clean carbon deposits or prevent corrosion. They are intended for maintenance, not for repair.

Of course, there are still good reasons for using a fuel additive. If you have neglected your vehicle's maintenance in the past or if you have purchased a used vehicle with an unknown maintenance record, you may consider using an additive until you can establish a proper maintenance schedule. If you've used a lower grade of gasoline than recommended for a prolonged period of time and are now switching to a higher-grade, you may want to use an additive until the lower-grade gasoline is consumed. If you have water in the fuel tank, an additive that absorbs water will be beneficial. Also, an additive may be useful in cleaning out accumulated sludge in a vehicle that has not been driven for several months.

When using a fuel additive, be sure to follow its directions. For example, the manufacturer may recommend using the additive before filling up your tank so that it will mix properly. You don't want to pour the additive on top of a full tank of gas and then have it simply float there on top. On the other hand, some additives are to be added to a full tank of gasoline. Therefore it is best to read the manufacturer's instructions first.

In general, assuming you have been maintaining your vehicle regularly, have no unusual driving conditions, and your vehicle owner's manual does not recommend fuel additives, then they should not be necessary. It's not that fuel additives don't work, but higher-octane gasoline already contains the additives necessary for your vehicle. Of course, if you're using a lower-grade of gasoline, you may want to use a fuel additive. But the question that needs to be asked now is - If you're concerned enough about your vehicle that you are considering using fuel additives, then why not just upgrade your gasoline in the first place? I suppose the answer is simply a matter of preference. But if you have any doubts as to whether you need a fuel additive or not, you should ask a trusted mechanic.

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