Best Oil Additives: Revive Your Vehicle’s Engine Performance
Make your old car engine run like it’s brand new with oil additives.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON April 28, 2021
You already know how critically important regular oil changes are for your car. Without them, your car’s innermost components and systems can face serious problems — and you could wind up with costly repairs you really don’t want to pay for. However, what you might not think about as regularly as your oil changes is what, exactly, your oil is doing under the hood. If you’re counting on your oil to keep your engine and all of its parts running smoothly, you might want to check in with it and see if an oil additive could help.
Oil additives, which are also called engine oil additives, can improve engine performance and even help it last for longer. Meant to protect everything from seals and gaskets while also flushing out sludge and cleaning different engine components, an oil additive can be a serious workhorse for your vehicle. And they’re incredibly easy to add right into the oil you’re already using. If you’re thinking about enhancing your engine oil’s performance with an additive, we’ve compiled a list of the best oil additives right here.
This product can be used on either gasoline or diesel engines. The main ingredient is zinc, which is ideal for preventing corrosion.
- Can fix most powerstroke cold start issues
- Prevents engine noise, friction, and cluttering
- Isn’t very effective in hot temperatures or when stored in the cold for long; it can harden
A motor oil additive made to reduce engine friction and overall noise. Helps the vehicle accelerate better and run smoother. Ideal for automotive purposes as well as machinery and tools.
- Proves to be beneficial for long-term use
- Prolongs the engine lifespan Comes in a bottle of 300 milliliters and lasts a long time
- A little of the liquid goes a long way
- Doesn't show significant results on all vehicles
- Might thicken the oil and paint it in black
A special oil additive for all types of commercial oil. It can work quite well in hot or cold environments.
- Can reduce friction and remove accumulated deposits in the filter system
- The texture is extremely thick
- Smell is rather unpleasant
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy Oil Additives?
- Prevent Rust. When you mix oil additive with motor oil, it refines the lubrication and reduces friction. Keep in mind that rust is one of the leading causes of deterioration in older engines.
- Improve engine performance. Usually, when an engine is burning too much oil, it will slow down. Additionally, when the oil in your car’s engine is too runny, like water, it will distort the performance of your engine. However, oil additives contain oil stabilizer elements that help thicken the oil and enhance engine performance.
- Clean the engine. There are some engine oil additives that have detergent characteristics. This would be helpful to unclog impurities that are stuck between the engine parts, reducing the extreme friction. Alternatively, oil additives can also be used to regulate temperature.
- Stop excessive smoke. If you’re driving a car that coughs too much thick, black smoke like it’s being strangled, oil additives may solve the problem. The oil additive acts by reducing the engine oil loss that causes excess smoke to blow out of your exhaust pipe. It also reduces engine noise.
- Prevent oil leakage. A top-quality engine oil additive should be able to seal small scratches and micro cracks to stop oil leakage. In the long run, this could save you a lot of money that would have been used to constantly replace the leaking oil.
Types of Oil Additives
Oxidation causes engine parts to deteriorate when exposed to oxygen. Hence, antioxidant oil additives do the exact opposite by acting like a protective layer to slow down the oxidation process and prevent corrosion of the engine parts. Also, such types of oil additives are capable of prolonging the lifespan of the engine oil.
The objective of detergent oil additives is to get rid of impurities accumulating in the engine components. Moreover, detergents are alkaline in nature, and they’re used to neutralize the acidity level of the engine oil and avoid unwanted deposits that would otherwise form when exposed to high temperatures.
When blended with regular oil, viscosity modifiers play a role to prevent the oil from becoming thinner or watery after exposure to high temperatures. Alternatively, viscosity modifiers improve oil fluidity at low temperatures, which helps to boost fuel economy and reduce wear. Most top-rated oil additives that are sold contain viscosity modifying elements.
A friction modifier serves the purpose of decreasing the friction between metal surfaces in the engine. In retrospect, friction-reducing engine treatment indirectly enhances fuel economy and could also be used as an anti-wear agent. Most synthetic oil additives that you can find on the market will typically include anti-friction formulas.
Anti-foaming oil additive contains chemicals that inhibit foam and air bubbles in the engine oil. Otherwise, if the foam bubbles don’t burst, they would speed up the oxidation process, which would ultimately lead to corrosion. In most cases, you will need a very low concentration of anti-foaming agents to get the job done.
Top Brands of Oil Additive
Founded in 1989, Lucas is one of the most popular oil additives, lubricants, and automotive oil manufacturers in North America. The company is also a consistent sponsor and promoter of the American racing industry. Its headquarters is in Corona, Calif. One of its top products is the Lucas Heavy Duty Oil Stabilizer.
Headquartered in Germany, Liqui Moly is one of the oldest oil, additives, and lubricant manufacturing companies. In fact, the first patented oil additive used by Liqui Moly was used by soldiers during the World Wars to ensure their automobiles didn’t stop in case they ran out of oil. Its most popular engine treatment product is Liqui Moly Cera Tec Friction Modifier.
Sea Foam Motor Treatment is one of the highest selling oil additives in America. Most of the company's products are specialized to clean and lubricate the engine parts. Its top-rated oil additive is the Sea Foam SF-16.
- Under $10: You can easily find an array of different oil additives priced within a budget-friendly $10 or less range. Most basic additives cost around $7 in total, meaning you don’t have to spend a lot in order to get a decent, effective product that’ll really deliver.
- $10 to $50: This is the widest, most far-ranging price range when it comes to additives. You’ll find all kinds of options, from general additives to more specialized formulas, at both budget and more expensive prices.
- $50 and up: While it might seem silly to spend $50 or more on a bottle of oil additive, some of the most premium product choices can cost quite a bit. While there aren’t a ton of options within this high price range, you’ll find more unique options. Some oil additives can even reach $100 and up, though these are typically bulk products or highly specialized formulations.
- Under $10: You can find different types of oil treatment in this price range; anti-leak, anti-wear, and oil stabilizer. However, most products in this category are very small in volume.
- $10 to $50: Most oil additives in this range still offer the same features as less expensive options, but they come in bigger containers.
- $50 to $100: Some of the best engine oil treatment products are in this category. Typically, they have formulas that allow them to multitask when introduced to the engine.
Even though most oil additives are designed to be used during the summer or winter months, not all additives can withstand the below-zero temperatures. On the other hand, there are a few additives that would lose composure when exposed to high temperatures. The best car oil additive should be able to cope with extreme cold or hot environments.
Not every oil additive sold on the market is compatible with your vehicle. For instance, there are some oil treatments that would work well with synthetic oil engines. It’s very important that you check your vehicle’s manual to know what type of oil treatment you should buy. Additionally, most user manuals will tell you what type of chemicals you should avoid. The best oil additives should be compatible with almost all types of vehicles.
The more eco-friendly a product is, the better it is. Usually, oil additives for older engines that are capable of reducing emissions are EPA-certified. Actually, an improved fuel economy will have lower levels of emission. The EPA certification is a green light that the oil treatment doesn’t include harmful chemicals.
- Chemicals. Most top-notch oil additive products contain zinc or phosphorous. The zinc chemical found in oil additives serves to improve performance, and it is usually ideal for older engines. Meanwhile, a phosphorus chemical may prolong your engine’s lifespan by reducing friction. If you find a product with both zinc or phosphorus, it should be very effective.
- Range of Use. There are many uses of oil additives: reducing friction, removing deposits, lubricating engine parts, neutralizing oil, boosting engine performance, stopping oil leakage, preventing corrosion, and slowing oil burning. Of course, not all oil additives can perform all those functions at once, but you should opt for the most diverse product available.
- Friction Reduction. An additive has the potential to reduce any friction present as it moves through your engine. Persistent friction can grind down important areas within the engine block, making it tougher for the engine to properly handle its job over time. If you choose an additive that’s able to smooth out that friction and create less wear, you can increase the lifespan you’ll get out of your engine.
- Rust Inhibiting Capability. In addition to all of the other hard work an oil additive can perform, it may even be able to prevent corrosion or rust. Look for an additive that touts an ability to prevent corrosion from happening thanks to rust-inhibiting ingredients, and you’ll be investing in your engine’s longevity once again.
- Effect on Fuel Efficiency. When you pour an oil additive into your vehicle, you’ll be optimizing your engine and helping it run more smoothly with less difficulty. As a result, your fuel efficiency can increase. Make sure you choose an additive that can help your engine’s performance; it could give you an increase of 1-2 miles per gallon, putting less stress on the engine and saving you a bit of money over time.
Best Oil Additives Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Tips & Advice
- If you just bought a brand new car, your vehicle probably doesn’t need an oil additive. However, if you bought a used older car, there is a chance it could do better with an oil additive injection.
- Even though manufacturers might tell you it is okay to use their oil additives on certain vehicles, it’s important to check your vehicle’s manual. Sometimes, the user’s manual and the product description can be different. Regardless, always go by your vehicle’s manual.
- If the engine of your car comes with hydraulic valve filters, avoid adding thick oil additives. In some cases, extremely thick oil additives could cause engine cluttering. Instead, it is better to opt for a thinner liquid oil additive.
- Oil additives shouldn't be used as a replacement for oil engines. In fact, if you take good care of your vehicle, you probably won't need oil additives. Nevertheless, if your engine starts to make noise or emit a lot of smoke, it could be a signal to buy an oil additive.
Q: How often should I change my oil additive?
It depends on your vehicle’s user manual. Since oil additives need to be mixed with engine oil, you should blend it every time you change the oil.
Q: Can oil additives improve oil pressure?
Yes. Most additives can improve oil pressure, but only temporarily. If your vehicle is showing signs of low oil pressure, it could be a sign there are serious engine issues that should be addressed by visiting a mechanic.
Q: Could oil additives also work as fuel additives?
No. Oil additives are specially designed to blend with engine oil, but fuel additives are used to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. Although some oil additives could boost your engine performance and indirectly improve your car’s gasoline consumption level, they’re different from fuel additives.
Q: Do engine oil additives really work?
Additives really work when they’re mixed in with your regular engine oil. You may not notice the effects right away — some additives can start having an effect after your second oil change after using them — but changes will take place under the hood. Your engine can last longer, a benefit you’ll only notice later on, and it’ll be cleaner and better equipped to perform on the road thanks to a quality additive.
Q: Can oil additives hurt my engine?
Oil additives shouldn’t cause any engine issues, as long as you choose a product that’s designed to work with the kind of oil your vehicle requires. Some additives are universal, but others can be more specialized, so make sure to double-check the recommended use cases before picking out which one you’ll use.
Q: Can you mix different oil additives?
It isn’t a good idea to blend together different oil additives. Stick to just one — and use only that one in your engine’s oil. Using multiple additives together in the same oil can actually cause oil degradation, which in turn can have harmful effects on your engine and other vehicle systems.
Our pick for the best oil additive is the Archoil AR9100. It is versatile, and it can solve Powerstroke cold start issues. Another top-quality selection that is cheaper than most other options is the Liqui Moly Anti-Friction Oil Treatment.