Types of Fuel Additives

Throughout its life, the fuel we put into our engines... from our lawn mowers or chainsaws all the way up to our cars, trucks, and RV's... is being exposed to nasty elements through the multiple handling and shipping procedures that it undergoes in order to get delivered to us.

The chemicals that make up our fuels, including the types of fuel additives in contact with air... start the process of oxidation. Too much exposure for longer periods will lead to fuel going bad prematurely. Adding to this, depending on the fuel type, there can be more issues that may arise if you're not careful with fuel handling and storage.

Read on to see how you can discover the 8 different types of fuel additives and when to use what. What issues you can experience if you're running with bad fuels and how you can prevent some of them. We will present to you the different types of fuel additives that are useful depending on your circumstances and the issue you may be experiencing.

Gasoline Stabilizers

Without using chemicals, the only way to prevent fuel from going bad, is to store it in an airtight container. As we might already guess, this is very difficult to achieve. 

In the realm of types of fuel additives, this is where fuel stabilizers come into play.

Fuel stabilizers are engineered to prevent oxidation in fuel by bonding with gasoline to create a protective layer. Layer that prevents evaporation, formation of sticky resins and repels water . This results in a better preserved or even extended lifespan of the fuel.

Where to use it?

Fuel additives such as gasoline stabilizers can be used in any and all seasonal equipment running an internal combustion engine. As long as you have periods of over 2 weeks in which the engine is not started, use of a stabilizer is a good idea, otherwise it's not needed. Particularly good for high end or older engines that tend to be more sensitive to fuel quality.

The preservation or lifespan extension offered by a gasoline stabilizer depends much on the brand, it's composition and dosage. In some cases it can preserve your fuel for over one year.

Ignoring these facts will lead to your fuel becoming stale and even harmful for your system. Formations of resins will appear in your fuel lines, fuel injectors, pumps and carburetors if applicable. This can clog/block up your system and/or ruin these fuel components if left for prolonged periods of time. Other issues include poor engine response, misfires and sometimes a hard to start engine since normal combustion cannot take place.

One example of a gasoline stabilizer fuel additive is CleanBoost® Maxx™. This formula is concentrated to treat 30 gallons of gas with only 1 oz of product. The best perk is the fact that it delivers more benefits besides the stabilization of your fuels.  Benefits such as a boost in power, cleaner fuel lines and injectors (without using alcohol) MPG increase and reduced emissions, make this product good to use daily or in gasoline storage applications. 

Fuel-Line Antifreeze

If you're putting your vehicles to the test in extreme conditions or just living up North... a quality fuel line antifreeze is a must in terms of fuel additives.

As we all know, both gasoline and diesel fuels are hygroscopic in nature, which means they tend to absorb water. This not only reduces engine performance but may also cause serious issues when exposed to extreme climates cold or humidity.

Condensation in the fuel system causes formation of water in the tank which will settle to the bottom of the fuel. Presence of water can trigger the appearance of rust in the tank and fuel lines. This will surely lead to contamination, line blockages or even poor running condition.

In the coldest of environments, the water can freeze and expand its volume. Therefore increasing the likelihood of cracks appearing in your fuel lines, filters and injectors or even destroying carburetor internals.

What does a fuel-line antifreeze formula do?

Simply put, it lowers the freezing point of your gasoline/diesel and also helps dry the fuel system moisture . However, most fuel line antifreeze's accomplish through the introduction of alcohol, leaving a downside of drying out gaskets, injector o-rings and other fuel system components.

If you own a gas powered vehicle, you're lucky because it's easy to protect during these extreme conditions. All fuel line antifreeze solutions work like a charm in that regard.

When it comes to diesel powered vehicles however, the situation is different. We talked at length about how to prevent diesel fuel from gelling here if you would like to deep dive. Diesel fuel is much more sensitive to the elements and require formulas that not only lower the freezing point but also helps to thaw fuel lines while maintaining the much needed lubricity. Even when temperatures don't hit extremely low figures, diesel fuel can start to crystallize and clog up your fuel system.

Treat your diesel to prevent gelling
Gelled Fuel Filter
Fuel additives are one of the best answers for the issue about how to fix gelled diesel fuel.

Examples of Gelled Diesel . Clogged fuel filters even at low temperature dips

The anti-gel market is wide in this sector with plenty of products that cater to diesel engines. With so many choices, what is best to choose?

One old school tip

Is to use kerosene mixed fuel, however, this can become a nuisance to follow up with on a consistent basis. Many fleets and trucking companies rely on aftermarket diesel fuel conditioners and anti-gels. For instance big transportation companies that operate expensive engines, traveling hundreds of thousands of miles, use CleanBoost® Sno-Cat™ Diesel Fuel Conditioner. Because it can protect the entire fuel system, while stopping fuel gelling in its tracks down to -55 ° Fahrenheit. That's a huge peace of mind in such conditions. CleanBoost® Sno-Cat™ Diesel Fuel Conditioner, also disperses water and reduces the need to use kerosene for flow control in harsh conditions.

In addition, its unique blend of co-polymers, gives the fuel a catalyst perk as well. This will naturally boost your power output without the use of cetane which increases exhaust gas temperatures. It also cleans fuel injectors and also adds much needed lubricity to low sulfur fuels.

One ounce treats 10 gallons of diesel and ensures you get through the winter without any headaches. To achieve this you need to start using it before your fuel solidifies as it's a prevention formula. 

CleanBoost Sno-Cat helps prevent diesel gelling

Octane Boosters

Do you desire to boost your fuel's octane rating without paying for high octane premium?  Read on to see if this type of fuel additive is something you truly need or if there are more efficient ways to achieve your desires.

What are octane boosters?

These fuel additives are specially designed to raise the octane rating of your fuel in order to generate more power and enhance the burning efficiency. However, this is not for every application or vehicle. Often times adding an octane booster to a vehicle that doesn't require it will do absolutely nothing, Performance won't be increased and in some rare cases, it may even reduce it.

This increase in burning efficiency translates into less fuel needed to generate the same power... a perk that can be used either to gain more efficiency or simply just to gain more power. It all depends on the driving style (and vehicle) adopted after the octane booster is added. Again, some engines produce the same power with for without and octane booster.

A simple engine with an old carburetor might not deliver you any enhancements . However a modern turbo charged engine can yield important performance improvements.

The way these octane boosters work is by having anti-knock chemicals added to them. 

These enable the engine to run without premature detonation or pre-ignition. Effectively raising the octane of the fuel to avoid hotspots forming in the cylinders.

It should be kept in mind that price equals quality in this realm. Some products that claim 3.0 RON (research octane number) increase will only generate a 0.3 RON which is rather deceptive. RON rating or Research Octane Number rating is the Octane Number that denotes its resistance to detonation. An easier way to think of it is " the fuels 'anti-knock' quality or pre-ignition resistance".

If  you're rocking a more classic high performance engine with a carburetor and standard to high compression, you should definitely fine tune the engine on a dyno to run with more aggressive timing and a higher boost on the turbocharger to take full advantage of octane boosters. Otherwise, to each his own as only real world testing with all the different possibilities of power combinations and tuning will determine the need and quality of octane boosters.

Fuel Pills

As the name implies, these types of fuel additives falls under the form of a pill. This creates a straight forward medium for all people to use in order to save some money and/or gain efficiency on fuel consumption.

Solid vs Liquid?

Convenience, no mess and small storage space needed ! These are the top reasons enlisted by all the people that use Fuel Pills as their fuel additive of choice.

With dosage formulas such as 1 pill for every 15 gallons of fuel added... it's pretty understandable why people prefer this over trying to dose exactly a specific quantity into the fuel tank while at the gas pump.

What do Fuel Pills actually do? 

Depending on the producer, these pills can act as octane boosters or simple power enhancers. The majority offer an increase in MPG while being inexpensive to run and easy to use.

Combust® Fuel Pills

One differentiating experience comes from the producers of Combust® Fuel Pills™. These fuel pills provide enhancements to the fuel that cleans injectors, increase fuel mileage, enhances throttle response and power. Also enhances burn rates that make the combustion chambers, fuel lines, and exhaust components much cleaner.

Simply put, Combust® Fuel Pills™ enhance the fuel in your car, pickup, ATV, motorcycle, boat, RV, lawnmower, snowblower, etc. combustion system without the need for any mechanical tweaks. The engine will burn fuel more efficiently with the end result being less emissions, more power per stroke and lower fuel consumption... all in a very convenient, easy to use pill.

Fuel Injector Cleaners

Back in the early 1980's, the Fuel Injector was introduced to the common automotive market . Along with it came a lot of advantages for new car buyers and the environment.

More reliability, better emissions and higher performance made people fall in love with fuel injection. However when there are upsides, usually there are some downsides as well and some can prove to be quite expensive.

The way a fuel injector system works is by raising up the pressure of the gas in the fuel system.   delivering it, when needed, onto the piston head,  in a spray type of manner through the injector nozzle.
One issue fuel injectors can experience is a reduction of pressure or a full on clogging of injectors themselves. This can happen due to the impurities in the fuel and also because of carbon deposits inside the engine.

What does a Fuel injector cleaner do? 

This type of fuel additives should contain polyetheramine (PEA). PEA is designed to dissolve carbon deposits and enable the fuel system to "safely wash"away the residues.

Clean your dirty fuel injector with Cleanboost Maxx
A clean fuel injector, thanks to Cleanboost Maxx
When to use fuel additives like this?

It's best to use fuel additives when you notice that you experience poor idling (injectors might be at fault if you have sudden shudder idle or a rough idle), problems starting the engine (needing to hold the key for a while longer or give it some gas while cranking the engine) or when a full tank of gas is simply not providing the same MPG as it did usually .

Use a fuel injector cleaner every now and then or best at each oil change. This little trick should keep your car running smoothly and reduce the possibility of ruining expensive injectors.

CleanBoost® Maxx™ is a fuel injector cleaner that is worth looking into. Plus it has some other needed benefits as well.

The special formula behind it is developed to be used in #1, #2 diesel and gasoline engines at a ratio of 1:4000 (or 1 oz. to 30 gallons). It dissolves and eliminates carbon deposits, slagging and cold-end corrosion from your injectors and cylinders. This leads to improved heat transfer, an extension of your engine life and lower maintenance costs.

Eliminating carbon deposits leads to increased combustion efficiency. This added benefit provides a smoother and more powerful ride that adds more miles to each gallon of fuel burned. Maximize both fuel economy and performance while keeping the engine clean of carbon deposits. You can buy it securely online and enjoy great customer service with fast & free shipping at Boost Performance Products.

Upper Cylinder Lubricants

Upper cylinder lubricants are fuel additives for gas or diesel, with a dual action type of purpose. Once they are dispersed into the fuel system, these components that come into contact with an upper cylinder lubricant, get their protection before combustion and then after combustion as they come into contact with the burning or burnt gases.

Older engines used to require an oil-fuel mixture to provide adequate lubrication to the piston and internal components.  In time this has been proven to have more issues than advantages due to the fact that oil cannot be completely burned in the process.

This lead to increased carbon formation in the combustion chamber, gumming up of the exhaust valve stems and other detrimental effects on the exhaust valve seats.

The chemical compound of upper cylinder lubricants... lubricate the components that it comes into direct contact with as a liquid and then once it is decomposed by internal combustion heat, it forms a greasy compound that sticks to the elements coming into contact with the burnt gases.

The result? Better lubricated internals that should reduce the chances of carbon deposits and wear caused by lack of lubrication. This additive is especially useful in older engines and engines that are running on lower lubricity fuels without being designed for this. Diesels can fall into this category and should entertain fuel additives that increase lubricity (such as CleanBoost Maxx as outlined above) at a minimum.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid

Diesel exhaust fluid is always getting confused for a type of fuel additive. DEF (Diesel exhaust fluid) is a solution used in almost all diesel-powered cars and trucks built after 2010 and equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or similar device.

What does it do?

DEF is a non-toxic and non-flammable solution that contains 35.5% high-purity urea and 67.5% deionized water. It's purpose is to help SCR reduce nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) on your diesel engine. As a side effect, it also helps your engine operate at maximum efficiency resulting in better fuel economy and lower costs.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid is injected into the exhaust stream before the gases reach the SCR catalyst  to help convert NOx into harmless water and nitrogen.

Where do I add DEF? How often do I need to refill?

Even though the name Diesel Exhaust Fluid implies otherwise, DEF should never be added to the diesel fuel tank. If your car is equipped with a DEF tank, you will easily identify it. The opening is smaller than the one for the fuel tank and it has a blue cap.
Most DEF tanks are small and designed to last only as long as your fuel tank to ensure that both are needed to be refilled at once, however, this is not always the case.

Anti-Gelling Additives

All diesel users dread the sound of Gel Point and Pour Point. These represent the point where diesel fuel becomes a gel and respectively where it starts to flow slower than normal.

For the diesel to be usable again, the temperature of the fuel needs to rise over the gel point and that is not an easy task in colder environments. It's better to prevent this all together by using an anti-gelling additive. These fuel additives (as outlined above under Fuel Line Anti-freeze) use a unique blend of co-polymers that prevent the formation of crystals by lowering both the Gel Point as well as the Pour Point to enable efficient use of diesel fuel even in extreme cold conditions.

How can you know if your diesel fuel is starting to change states?

When diesel starts to get thicker, the liquid flows slower and has a hard time passing smaller cavities. Once this happens you can experience sluggish performance and an acceleration that is not responding properly.

Even though your diesel fuel is not gelled up and you have pressure in your fuel rail, the amount of fuel and pressure that should enter the combustion chamber is actually much lower because the fuel delivery system is becoming partially clogged.

One of the biggest red flags is when all of a sudden, one morning your engine is having troubles starting. What happens is that your fuel lines and fuel filters get clogged by gel, restricting the flow of diesel fuel to the engine.

How can this be fixed?

You have two ways to fix gelled diesel fuel. Either by a more natural way or utilizing an emergency way.
The natural way is to wait for the weather to warm up to a degree where you fuel lines and filters will start to re-liquify.

The emergency method is to use fuel additives known as emergency thawing additives that will re-liquify your diesel fuel in a matter of minutes. However as the name implies, it's for emergency use only as very strong mixtures of alcohols and ingredients are used that have not the best effect on your engine components if used regularly.

Instead of thinking in terms of fixing, better to think in terms of preventing which is easier to achieve, cheaper and will result in no downtime. (For more information on this, please see CleanBoost® Sno-Cat™ Diesel Fuel Conditioner).

As discussed in the section above "Fuel Line Anti-Freeze" it is recommended to use a diesel fuel conditioner to protect your fuel lines and filter from gelling even in extreme  cold conditions.

If unfortunately, temperatures have dropped unexpectedly and your diesel fuel is gelled, leaving you stranded, we recommend you look into a product such as CleanBoost® Diesel Rescue™ that has the perfect formula to thaw your fuel lines and fuel filters, dissipate water and re-liquify your fuel to have you back on the road in a matter of minutes, rather than hours.

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Tech Guy

Automotive enthusiast, passionate about Jeeps, hot-rods, turbos, performance, efficiency, diesels, fuels, high performance oils, additives and anything with an engine.

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