According to additive makers, a little additive in your car’s gas tank can cure all kinds of car ailments. This article will tell you how much of that is true and how much is baloney.

First of all, if you’re considering investing in a bottle of fuel additive for your car, you’re going to want to make sure two things check out:

  1. You understand what your car actually needs to fix whatever problem or become more efficient in whatever way.
  2. You know that the additive that you’re considering is actually effective

lead substituteExample: Car owners that are in possession of a sufficiently vintage car that was manufactured in the 1970’s or earlier know that their car was designed to run on leaded gasoline. Gasoline is now unleaded, but there are additives that claim to be lead-free while still allowing for vintage cars to run better on today’s gas. These additives may or may not work, but they haven’t been proven to actually do any damage.

Another set of examples: owners of cars with diesel engines likely know that cold weather can cause diesel fuel to congeal in the tank and fuel lines. This in turn causes reduced performance until the car heats up. There are anti-gelling fuel additives that will help the diesel avoid these issues. Fuel stabilizers can also be helpful if the car is about to go in storage for a prolonged amount of time; they make sure that the car can start up smoothly when it’s used again. Old cars past their warranty can benefit from fuel injector cleaners to keep their gas tanks functional.

These are cases of a car actually standing to benefit from additives that actually work. However, there are a lot of additive manufacturers that would be happy to mislead their clientele in terms of what their additive does and when their clientele needs the service.

Some stuff is a no-brainer: don’t use a lead additive on a car made in 1999, and don’t use an anti-gelling additive on a gas car. In general, if your car is on the newish side, you probably don’t need any kind of additive.

Other stuff is misleading: it’s a wide-spread myth that automatic transmission users can benefit from automatic transmission fluid, which supposedly lubricates the metal-on-metal contact inside the engine and keeps things moving smoothly. On the contrary, adding this additive puts your car engine at risk for expedited corrosion and other damage.

ethylAny additive that claims to improve gas mileage or boost horsepower is coming from a untrustworthy company; these claims are impossible and meant to take advantage of a clientele that is ignorant to how cars work. They likely won’t do much harm to your vehicle, but they won’t do much of anything and tend to sell based on the placebo effect i..e. people just assuming that the car is running better due to having added the fuel additive.

All in all, do the research before you invest any money in fuel additives; you may not only waste your money, but cost yourself more money in car repair down the line.