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Fuel and Oil Additives



  • So is a spark plug a spark plug a spark plug?

    I have a beat-up 1991 Geo Prizm with 240K miles, got it with 120K on it in 2001.
    Had been using simple plugs (ie: cheap) all its life with me. Had started with about 27 mpg highway, and eventually got up to 30 mpg city after spending years cleaning out engine.

    Recently tried Bosch +2 plugs, and my mileage went up to 35 mpg hwy, with slightly better acceleration all around. In my automotive simplicity, I would say that the gas mixture is being burned more completely, but I'm not an authority. I had also used synthetic for first time, at same time as changing to +2 plugs. I can still get 32 mpg city now, even after I've gone back to normal oil.

    I wonder whether such a response depends upon how old and worn an engine is. I don't think that a new car within first few years of use would get same response as I did because the engine is very new, very tight. It's combustion chamber would be very clean and sealed properly for ultimate combustion as designed and developed by the manufacturer.

    But would/could an aged and well used car in which the engine is very well worn without any major parts replaced (top end or bottom end) allow such a reaction as this?

    Do you think a spark plug is a spark plug? I doubt it because you have already mentioned that you prefer some plugs over others. So there are differences in plugs and their design and performance. Perhaps the difference in performance is dependant upon specific cars and their conditions and even how the cars are used by the drivers.

    I know that American automobiles have great tolerances built into them. That's why they can last nearly forever before they completely die an nasty death from malfunction. My father has a 1995 Buick LaSabre bought in about 2000, with less than 90K miles now. Has never changed the spark plugs, so they were used by previous owner, and have no idea how long that was either!! Car wtih V6 was able to get up to 30 mpg on highway. Pretty amazing and very commendable for GM.

    However, when I checked the plugs, the electrode post was almost burned off, almost down to rim on most of plugs from overuse. The gap was .8 instead of .6. So car was getting great mileage even with greater-than-normal gap. Performance was okay.
    But upon installing new plugs, the performance shot up about 300% (descriptive figure only), allowing instantaneous starting instead of little bit of starter cranking. And driving acceleration was obviously hugely better. That V6 now pulls that almost ton of metal like it almost nothing.

    But I bet that the gas mileage won't be up to that 30 mpg that my dad greatly admired and bragged about. So even tho' the old plugs were obviously greatly worn, they gave wonderful gas mileage. But the new plugs were more desirable for proper maintenance, and will undoubtedly give less mpg. So where do we choose?

    Is it simply that the larger gap of the older plugs burned the mixture more? So would gapping the new plugs larger achieve the same?

    Does a new car have less allowance for "tolerances" built into it with a new engine, being "tighter"? Does an old car have a greater chance at such a change of mpg when its engine is "looser". I use those terms generically, and don't even know if they can be consider real. But that's how I've described it otherwise.

    I'd appreciate your take on this.
  • bassprobasspro Posts: 34
    Hi Guys, this is my two cents worth on this subject. My back ground includes, machinist (engine rebuilding too) and a twenty year Catalytic Cracking unit operator (made gasoline from cracked hydrocarbons). But I will still say as a novice in the internal combustion process of the gasoline engine,I stay confused about a great many claims of truth and fact.
    Now for my OPINION on fuel additives, I drive 50,000 miles a year in my work. In 2005 I received my first new car (i am 52) and I wanted to buy the vehicle after it met the exchange process of the company I work for. I wanted the engine and related systems to have the least wear possible when I bought it. With that in mind and the limited knowledge I had on the particulars of Gasoline I made the decision to use fuel additive in my vehicle. The reason I chose to use fuel additive was to hopefully lubricate the fuel pump, electro mechanical injector, and possibly, the valve to valve guide contact point area in the fuel intake area.
    This is the interesting point,I feel, I could find NO fuel additive that backed up any of the criteria I had with TEST's or FACT's Everything was just claims as far as I could see(read). So why did I use additive anyway? I know that the modern fuel systems of gasoline engines have mechanical contact areas and current newer fuels have less and less lubricating value. I wanted some lubrication, so the only way I knew to do it was use an additive that made some claim to do that. At 100,000 mile I had as extensive a diagnostive test as could be preformed by the repair shop that did all my work on the vehicle. They found no problems and the motor operated within the new engine parameters set by the manufacturer.
    I had the plugs and wires changed but only as a preventative. They tested all good and there was no improvement in gas mileage and the motor ran just the same as before the change.
    With all that said, the bottom line is, if the claim of the lubricating value is true on the fuel additive, I should not have to change the injector, fuel pump, or a valve job on the heads. It appears it is not needed at this time and I will have to let you know at 150,000 miles and 200,000 mile if I get that far whether or not I blew the money.
    Another aspect of fuel is, any additive, changes the burn characteristics in the combustion chamber. Fuel mileage can be helped or hurt. I would want to know that. Also the additive could contaminate the catalytic converter and or O2 unit.
    I have had no problems so far and will get back to you if I ever find any fuel additive that backs claims with fact. But I will continue to use them until it is PROVEN they absolutely do not work for what I use them for which is again lubrication. Many of the false claims revolve around improved gas milage, which I doubt.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    You're trying to prove a positive (the effecacy of the additives) with a negative (the lack of any discernable problems). Unfortunately that doesn't add up.

    FWIW #1, you and I are about the same age (I'm a year younger), and over the years I've driven over a million and a half miles and have run a number of cars up into the mid to high one-hundred thousand mile range and two over two-hundred thousand. None of them have ever had any fuel additives used, and yet, none of them have ever needed a fuel pump, fuel injector, or valve job. Personally, it is my bet that you've wasted your money.

    FWIW #2, due to a coolant leak into the oil, I pulled the cylinder heads off of one of our cars last summer (the leak turned out to be a five cent "O" ring in the timing chain cover). The combustion chambers were nice and clean, the intake ports (down stream of the injectors) were actually glittering the metal was so shiny, and the cylinder walls still had all of their honing marks intact. Miles on the engine at the time of the work? 143,625

    Best Regards,
  • bassprobasspro Posts: 34
    I am not trying to prove anything, It is only an OPINION as I had stated. If this particular board, of many boards, do not want opinions then it should be stated and I will not post here again. It would would also serve others for you not to continue to post what I consider your opinions often not backed up with unbiased facts.

    Best Regards, Basspro
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,473
    Okay let's not start an argument please.

    That is correct, opinions are most welcome. Certainly one can challenge opinions but this isn't a court of law and I don't see anyone trying to make it one here.

    I have found over many years of hosting that it is not necessary to correct what one perceives as "wrong' information. Generally the flow of the discussion straightens everything out cordially.

    If you'd like to counter someone's opinion, posting a source for your ideas is a great way to de-personalize debates.

    This is how we all learn from one another.

    Thanks for your continued courtesy,


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  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 12,800
    I use mostly no-brand name gas because of the 20 cent per gallon difference between it and so called "top tier" brands. Never had any problems I could trace to the fuel.

    I wonder though if the lack of additives that are put into the higher priced fuel could have some long term concequences to my engine such as carbon build-up.

    Is there something I should be adding to my tank to make up for the lack of additives?

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2009 PT Cruiser, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    In my area you will be hard pressed to find "top tier" gas. We're dominated by places like Rutters, Sheetz, Tom's, giant, etc. All gas has to meet the EPA minimum standards. No one has ever shown me that my 2000 Oldsmobile INtirigue or 2004 Nissan Quest need anything other then the EPA minimum standards. So I will keep filling up at the least expensive gas station. Today it is at Rutters at $3.47...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    With customer's cars that are running poorly. When we can't find anything that is apparent we will ask them..." Do you use a certain bargain brand gas? If the answer is yes, we tell them to quit buying that brand.

    The troubles usually disappear.

    I had the same thing happen when we had our boat. It quit in the middle of the lake and I got towed in. First question was the same one we ask...yes!

    Never used it again and never anymore problems.
  • ex_tdierex_tdier Posts: 277
    Yes, all gas has to meet "mininum" standards as does food, vitamins, and food quality. however we all know that doesnt mean much except the standards may be way too low.

    better gasolines have added detergents and lower sulfur content which i was told makes a difference. people like to think that cheap gasoline is good for their car, but they may not notice the consequences such as poor gas mileage or performance until it's too late. besides, whos to know if the gas stations add this or that in their tanks to reduce the amount of fuel they have to buy from the refinery,
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,186
    >better gasolines have added detergents

    Do you have any support to that concept other than advertising? E.g., Shell may advertise that their superhotrodpremiumluxurycargasfor wealthyspenders has more detergents. Is there any benefit to more detergents? The minimum has been mandated for all fuels since some day in the past when it was determined fuel injectors and other things were affected by deposits. Is there a benefit to the additives or is it like vitamines in cereals?

    I asked some stations about additives in various grades in the past. One manager checked his delivery sheets and showed that the same detergent additive package was added to all three grades.

    >lower sulfur content

    Again do you have support for this? It's my understanding that all fuels have the same base stock. Additional chemicals are added to control the burning properties under compression and temperatures in the combustion chamber. The higher octane rating on the pump does not mean the fuel contains more energy and will make you sporty gomobile run faster; rather the higher octane means the fuel burns slower. That slower burning reduces knock during the explosion process in the small number of cars that need it.

    The same base stock means the same sulfur content for that fuel delivered through the pipeline from some remote refinery. Indeed a few summers back when a couple of regions had problems with higher sulfur in fuels from certain stations, they didn't say it was premium or regular; it was just the fuel at some stations. Also it was at more than one brand's stations. That supports the idea that brands get their fuel from the same depot. Back in the 70s tankers pulled out of a depot in Northern Kentucky and they had all kinds of brands on the tankers as well as no names on many taking fuel from the depot for delivery.

    More recently a delivery driver would call in to an auto repair show. He said now the difference is in the alcohol content. I do not know if that's mixed at the depots or at the refinery before it goes into the pipes. He was naming that a few stations still sold 100% gasoline and they were a name brand in a higher quality area. The other deliveries for the brand that he delivered all contained alcohol. He also talked about the additive package for a particular grade that was dumped into the tank in the truck that mixed as he put the fuel in and drove to the station.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • texasestexases Posts: 8,762
    "better gasolines have added detergents"

    "Do you have any support to that concept other than advertising?"

    Have you looked around the Top Tier web site? Seems like they do require more than the base level of detergents, after discussions with a number of car manufacturers.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    I have viewed the Top Tier website and find it all very suspect since this idea of Top tier gas came from the auto manufacturer (not all but a select group) and not the oil companies. It was in response to the lower quality gas that began popping up after Katrina (it appears to have disappeared just as quickly) and several companies were seeing more fuel related issues. Companies like Shell have turned it into a marketing strategy. The website offers no evidence that "cheap" gas or more importantly, gas meeting EPA standards can cause damage to your car. There are a lot of gas companies that are not on that list.

    The only Top Tier gas company that operates in my area is Shell under the Texaco name. They only have a handful of stations here. I guess BMW and Honda should stop selling cars in the York (PA) since there is no gas in this area that can run their cars. Oh wait, Turkey Hill does operate here.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,186
    I thought the top tier group had been around before the Katrina event.

    I like the idea that someone is aware of fuel quality, but I view the group as something like the car dealers with their gold star dealer award--the only one in the state of Ohio. Of course the next dealer is a blue star dealer award winner.

    I have every belief that my Mobile at the local UDF store is as good as the BP and Shell even though it's not paying the membership fee to the top tier group.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,918
    It could have been after 9/11. It's been a couple of years since I researched Top Tier gas. Haven't really read of anyone discussing this with gas over $3.

    I like your analogy. I don't buy it either. I have an Oldsmobile Intrigue (GM product; one of the founders of the Top Tier gas group) with 164k miles, still averaging between 24-26 mpg. All I use is "cheap" gas.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,186
    I buy gas mostly at brand stations including Kroger stores. I changed the fuel filter at about 100K miles. I put in a fuel system cleaner, Techron by Chevron, widely available and recommended in the days of poor gas by BMW and others for cleaning injectors of the soapy long chain carbon compounds that collect on them when the car is turned off. That has long been taken care of by the fuel additives that were required in all fuels. But I still put it in. However when they dumped the fuel from my tank to replace the rusted pressure line, and fuel pump, the contaminants had collected in the bottom and the gas was unuseable. That stuff is kept out of the car's fuel pump by a sock-like filter inside the tank. Apparently somewhere I've gotten some bottom of the tank goop sold to me during the 10 years.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • This sounds like the "Flat Earth Society: Automotive Division".

  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    The whole fuel additive topic seems to be "hot" right now. For those that are believers in the benefits of fuel additives, I have a question.

    I typically dump in a bottle of Techron after each oil change (typically at 4-5000 mile intervals). I have read that premium gas contains more additives, detergents, etc. If that is true, would running a tank or two of premium once in a while have the same effect as a bottle of injector cleaner? The car is a Camry SE-V6 with 3.3 liter engine. Have the same engine in the wife's Highlander.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Running fuel additives (Techron or otherwise) and/or Premium fuel in a car that specifies Regular is an absolute waste of money. Period, full stop, the end.

    Your Camry, your Highlander, and virtually every other late model car on the road is designed from the outset to run on the additives that are already included in the recommended fuel, and as such, you can expect an easy quarter of a million miles from your fuel system with little or no remedial maintenance WITHOUT the use of extra additives.

    If you don't believe what I've said, hey, no problem, just look at your Owner's Manuals. If you don't believe them, call Toyota, they'll all tell you pretty much the same thing.

    Best regards,
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,473
    I think the effect of additives in gasoline is quite cumulative and quite subtle over many thousands of miles. I doubt that an occasional tank of "premium" fuel has any measurable effect. You are probably wasting your money here. The techron at oil change intervals might not be a bad idea; however, I can't say that it really does any good in the long run either.

    My response to additives is that I don't use them unless I need something to clean up a bad injector, and then I buy stuff that is far more potent than off-the-shelf additives you get at the supermarket. And even that works only once in a while.

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  • bassprobasspro Posts: 34
    I do understand your confusion. Most of the time a off the shelf fuel system cleaner will not do a whole lot because the ratio of additive to fuel does not reach a level that will make a real difference.
    The products that lubricate a fuel system and if you plan to keep a vehicle for many mile or a long time, might provide some improvement in injector and or fuel pump life.
    I know I will get many "do not do it" statements. The only place that I have seen any real trials is consumer report and they say do not do it.
    As you may or may not know the fuel touches the valves and therefore the valve guides can be affected due to close tolerance's. Fuel injector are a close tolerance's part of the fuel system too.
    Fuels today have changed in the last few years and will continue to do the same.
    The fuels of the past due to lead additive and sulfur did lubricate and protect valve/vale seat surfaces.
    The newest additive, Ethanol can cause problems in fuel systems and I assume there will soon be a fuel additive label with some reference to their product stopping phase separation, water suspension, clean ,lube and polish your tail pipe too!
    But all that said, I am sure there is a product or two that have double blind tests and laboratory proof that there product will do what is claimed, I wish I could find it.
    If you do, tell us, and I will be open minded enough to look into it.
    I for one appreciate you question and the conversation.
  • bassprobasspro Posts: 34
    I am responding to thread 1123 through 1131. The top tier system has nothing to do with Katrina. I get the joke!! But the tier system was just Shell and another refiner or two that put in the new process units to clean up their gasoline earlier than required by law. The plant I came out of has just come on line to meet the federal requirements. Top tier will mean little soon.
    As for additives, the add pack different refiners may or may not or do or do not put in their fuel are different and they can and do change without notice. Some, but not all are added, automatically at the truck loading dock which you might get or might not get the additive for several different reasons. Also when additives are put in manually, who knows?
    There are so many place's in the chain from the crude storage to the pump, that can cause fuel problems we are lucky we have as few fuel related problems as we do in America.
    As a fact, gasoline at specific RON,VP, End Point,etc. can be different on a molecular level due to the different way they are processed. They can meet the minimum federal requirements for it's grade and still be different from Facility to Facility(refinery).
    As small as our refinery is we have the test engines(Knock and others) in our lab that will pass different molecularly different same octane fuels. That is no biggie.
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,758
    Thanks for the reply. I will probably just continue to do the bottle of Techron with each oil change method. It can't hurt and if it doesn't help, it's only $7 a couple times a year. I also try to fill up with Top Tier or major brand gas. I've heard too many (admittedly anecdotal) stories about problems related to off-brand/no-name gasoline to take a chance. In my area, some of the brand names (e.g., Phillips 66 and Marathon) are just as cheap as the no names anyway.
  • bassprobasspro Posts: 34
    Sure, there is always hope for a fuel additive that really works,but thank god the vast majority do not hurt fuel systems and I have heard of no studies that the additive negatively impact the catalyitic converter.
    As a general observation, most of the people who visit these sites are looking to learn how to better protect their vehicles (expense) for best performance,low or no unforeseen breakdowns, and longevity. The mostly untold benifit to doing that is less emissions,and leaks into and on our earth. I do not want to sound like a tree hugger, but our kind of people do deserve a pat on the back for trying to do the right thing. Again let us know if you find studies or tests that would prove the benifits of fuel additives. I would be glad to read them.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,186
    I'm with you. I'll continue to occasionally use Techron Fuel System Cleaner (not the Injector Cleanor) once every 10-15K miles.

    The bottle is very clear that it doesn't do anything to the converter. It also helps protect the fuel gauge slider from being affected by sulfur in the fuels. Some cars have had deterioration affecting the fuel gauge readings.

    Techron is the additives which were in the Chevron fuel, which were the best at the time. I believe Chevron merged with Texaco since then. Texaco also had come up with a very good additive package. Since the additives were what was in good fuels to begin with, there's no reason not to use them.

    If I felt I had an injector problem that needed cleaning, I would use a premium grade fuel fillup with the Techron to increase the effectiveness. If it's just prophylaxis, I toss it in with my usual regular. Much of my gas comes from Kroger and Mobil.
    I don't pay any attention to the Top Tier advertising.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • bassprobasspro Posts: 34
    Hi ALL, I did a search for out board motor issues and only found two. I have read and posted on this site quite a bit and decided to ask here an outboard motor question or two. Hope you do not mind giving me your opinions or maybe technical information for me to digest.
    As a short background my old out board was a two cycle and is now 21 years old. I have now bought into the new technology. I have bought a new 2008,EFI four cylinder,four stroke motor. (Mercury if it matters)
    As I read the information in the owners manual, it recommended only two oil products; Mercury or Quicksilver with some kind of service requirements(I assume marine) that I am not familiar with like the CI-4,CH-4,CG-4,CF,SL/SJ.
    My first question is there a conversion system to compare the two service requirement from marine to auto, if you know what I mean.
    My second question is I am going to replace the oil filter very soon and I will need to top off the oil. I want to start the process of switching over to full syn. and not the current blend the OEM recommends. What can I use that will meet their service requirements.
    As has been discussed many times on this site and others, there truly is a difference in oils,and additive packs. I want to find a syn. group IV ,or better oil to use that will meet and exceed the requirements of the motor builder.
    They also state that the required weight oil is 25w 40. I would prefer to go with a 0w40,0w50 or at least a 5w 40 for better flow characteristics,i.e. protection than the stock blend oil/add. pac.
    I need real help here at least to review information on these "new" kinds of motors. But I know in general a four stroke is a four stroke. Lets not get into the technicals to much other than to say, if the motor has roller tappets,solid tappets,odd cam profile, or some kind of timing belt or chain that needs a special lube, that I get, if that's the case.
    With a new motor I want to do the right thing for longevity and the least wear. I have less than 4 hours. Break in is, said by the book, to be done at eight hours.
    I want to change the oil and filter again then.
    Help me if you can or tell me what you would do. Thanks in advance.
  • niknmaxniknmax Posts: 5
    Hello, basspro. I just joined a company with an engine treatment. I joined because the stuff they are selling works. Now, you don't know me from a toad, and I can appreciate your doubting attitude because I have seen hundreds of claims from oil and fuel additives. As this thread reflects, they probably do something, but not enough to get change out of the jeans time after time. But I found this one is really different. Tore apart an engine that had used it for 20,000 miles and was able to see the results of the claim. Ford Ranger 6 cyl 290,000 miles on it and no wear ridges in the cylinders. The surface was as they claimed - coated with a cermet surface. Any suggestions on how to get people like yourself to consider something that I see as a real benefit?
    Nik Williams
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,473
    Wait I missed something. If the engine with 290K used the additive for only 20K, and then was torn down and showed no wear, how does it follow that the lack of engine wear has anything to do with the additive? And...How do you know the engine wasn't rebuilt prior? And did anyone run the same engine without the additive for the same # of miles and tear that down to compare?

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  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    What you're missing is that the engine from that Ranger may well not have had any wear ridges anyway. Case in point, I recently pulled the heads off of a 3.8 (that had only had oil changes every 10,000 to 12,000 miles) from a Dodge Grand Caravan with nearly 200,000 on the clock, and not only were there no ridges, the honing marks were still on the cylinder walls.

    As for how to get folks to consider the products that you're selling, I'm thinking "good luck". Why? By simply using decent oil and regular maintenance, engines these days should easily last for hundreds of thousands of miles. With that said, I would quite honestly NEVER even consider any of these magic elixir products without a HUGE body of scientific evidence that proves their efficacy, and in more areas than just engine longevity too (i.e. measurably enhanced fuel economy, hugely increased oil change intervals, etc...).

    Best regards,
  • niknmaxniknmax Posts: 5
    Yep - target on. I asked those and more. Kid who owned the truck was a long time customer of my mechanic friend who knew the truck. No formal stuff just - he knew the truck.The additive builds back the wear with cermet tech - new, but a few products out there. Blew the head gasket and at that high miles, decided to put a new engine in. Logical, buyt the cermet had repaired the wear. Hard to believe, but aI have seen compression repaired to normal after being really poor. No parallel test done, but I have seen dynamic results in over 100 engines and frankly am trying to figure how to get others to consider the "mechanic in a tube of gel" that reverses wear. But is does. Any ideas?

  • niknmaxniknmax Posts: 5
    Wear ridges is just one of the measures, not the end all. Yeah - "How" is the question. I see it work time after time on those who don't know enough to be a doubter, but we older guys have seen too many claims with nothing to see in end results. Stuff works. Figuring out how to get an interest is the challenge.
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