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Fuel Additives

Last updated: July 19, 2024

What Does Fuel Additives Mean?

Fuel additives are compounds formulated to enhance the quality and efficiency of fuels used in motor vehicles. They increase a fuel's octane rating or act as corrosion inhibitors or lubricants, thus allowing the use of higher compression ratios for greater efficiency and power. Fuel additives can help to avoid problems such as rough idling, weak acceleration, stumbling and stalling.

Fuel additives are available in a number of forms, such as liquid, powder or pill. They work in a number of different ways and claim to do various things to the fuel, including:

  • Remove sludge
  • Control soot
  • Improve combustion
  • Act as a biocide

Corrosionpedia Explains Fuel Additives

Any liquid that is added to the fuel supply of vehicles, either via the filler cap or other parts of the fuel system, is classified as a fuel additive. Fuel additives enhance engine performance, which allows further travel on gas infused with additives than would be possible otherwise. Engine maintenance is another common benefit of fuel additives. They prevent the buildup of sludge and other deposits in different areas of the engine, thereby effectively prolonging the life of the vehicle. Fuel additives are also claimed to enhance proper lubrication of working components. This particular benefit means less wear and tear on the moving parts.

Fuel additives can be formulated to work with unleaded gasoline as well as diesel fuels. Diesel fuel additives often offer the benefit of functioning as an antioxidant that helps to minimize corrosion within the engine as well as antiknock agents to ease the stress on engine pistons.

Fuel additives can be subdivided in terms of their point of application, as indicated below:

  • Refinery products:
    • Antioxidant and stability improvement additives
    • Octane/cetane-enhancing additives
    • Cold flow improvement additives
    • Metal deactivator additives
  • Distribution system products:
    • Corrosion inhibitors
    • Pipeline drag-reducing additives
    • Anti-static additives
  • Automotive performance enhancement products:
    • Deposit control additives
    • Lubricity additives
    • Friction modifiers
    • Antifoam additives
    • Corrosion inhibitors
    • Demulsifiers/dehazers
    • Anti-valve seat recession additives

Multifunctional fuel additive packages often combine a deposit control additive with a corrosion inhibitor and demulsifier additive.


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