Best Fuel Stabilizers: Top Options to Clean Fuel
Keep your fuel fresh and clean your vehicle’s fuel system with fuel stabilizer.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON July 23, 2021
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Has your car been sitting with gas in the tank, waiting in your driveway or garage for months without being driven? If you didn’t add a fuel stabilizer into your gas tank before your car began to sit, you could discover an unpleasant surprise when you do finally get behind the wheel again. Over time, both gasoline and diesel fuel can break down and deteriorate. And as these fuels age, they can leave behind gummy, gunked-up deposited throughout your engine. But if you use a fuel stabilizer, you can keep your fuel fresh, properly balanced, and perfectly stable with no evaporation — and no left-behind deposits in your engine.
Fuel stabilizers can extend the life of your car’s fuel for as long as two years. They can even be used for gas you’re storing in fuel cans or for your lawnmower, snowblower, chainsaw, and other gas-powered items. If you’re hoping to maintain great performance and long-term functionality, a fuel stabilizer is a must-have. Check out our picks for the best fuel stabilizers, plus our tips for choosing a great stabilizer, right here.
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Benefits of Fuel Stabilizers
- Save fuel. If you're keeping a vehicle or any gas-powered equipment in storage, chances are there will still be some gas left in its motor. Instead of draining it or letting it sit and go bad, fuel stabilizer will keep your fuel fresh for the duration of storage.
- Eliminate cold starts. The first time you start an engine after it has been sitting can sometimes be a pain. This is because sitting idle isn’t good for your motor, but using fuel stabilizer will help your engine and make that first start quick and easy.
- Clean your fuel system. No matter what type of fuel you use, there are going to be impurities that will build up in your fuel system. Using fuel stabilizer will clean out the impurities and protect your vehicle from corrosive condensation build-up.
- Performance. The buildup in your engine causes your motor to work harder to run. This hinders your engine's abilities and takes away from its performance and fuel economy. Cleaning your fuel system will ensure your engine runs better, boosting performance and fuel economy.
Types of Fuel Stabilizer
While every fuel stabilizer has the same primary goal in mind, each one is formulated differently for specific areas of protection. Fuel stabilizer is used to keep fuel fresh while sitting in storage, and storage-based formulas have longevity in mind. These formulas are specially designed to keep fuel fresh for as long as possible, with many claiming up to two years of protection.
A performance-based fuel stabilizer is still great for keeping fuel fresh. However, they tend to keep fuel clean for less than 24 months. Instead, they are formulated to get the best performance and efficiency out of your vehicle by breaking down build-up from fuel impurities.
Sta-Bil is a popular brand owned by Gold Eagle Co. The company, founded in 1932, has been an industry pioneer in producing aftermarket fluids and additives. This Chicago-based business markets over 100 branded products, including Sta-Bil fuel stabilizers specialized for performance, marine, and diesel uses.
This Chicago-based company got its start in 1923. The founder, Burt Pierce, made a name for his company by producing parts for the vehicles used during World War I. Later, issues with carbureted vehicles like clogged fuel systems grew, and products like Marvel Mystery Oil MM12R were born.
This company is behind the top-rated Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment. Starbrite got its start in 1973 as an auto polish company. In the 80s, the company expanded its line to include the boat care and appearance market. Today, it makes treatments and additives for a vehicle, aircraft, home care, aviation, lawn mowers, motorsports, and motorcycle markets.
In the 1930s, Fred Fandrei wanted to keep his boat from having fuel-related issues. As a petroleum salesman, he managed to create a formula that kept fuel from going bad and helped his motor run smoothly. Since becoming an official product in 1942, Sea Foam RV SF-16 Liquid has become a favorite choice among mechanics and car enthusiasts.
Fuel Stabilizer Pricing
- $15 to $20: Most fuel stabilizers are priced between $15 and $20, making it an affordable investment whether you’re buying a basic or premium product. You’ll find all different kinds of fuel stabilizers from a wide array of brands within this price range, all in 8-ounce or 16-ounce containers.
- $20 and up: If you’re looking for a whole gallon — or more — of fuel stabilizer, expect to spend $20 or more. You can buy your fuel stabilizer in bulk if you pay more, and you’ll be able to shop the same brands and types of products.
Ease of Use
The idea behind using fuel stabilizer is to give you peace of mind when your gas-powered vehicle is sitting untouched for prolonged periods of time. So one of the most important features of a fuel additive is how easy it is to use. This applies to the container design and how easy it is to measure out the correct amounts for peak protection.
Using a fuel stabilizer isn't going to help you much if the additive you use does not work with your type of fuel. There are differently formulated products for gasoline, diesel, and ethanol blends. Each product will tell you exactly what kind of fuel they should be used with and how much needs to be used per gallon.
- Winter Formula. Gas motors are more vulnerable to carbon deposits in colder climates. Storing fuel during the winter has its own setbacks, so you need the best fuel stabilizer for winter storage. Winter-formulated additives will further protect your vehicles and snow blowers from corrosion and build up.
- Length of Time. If you need to keep your fuel fresh for a certain amount of time, then you'd better know how long certain additives last. The best fuel stabilizers are rated for 24 months of protection, so if you're storing fuel for nearly two years, you'll need one of the longest-lasting stabilizers. If you aren't storing your product for too long, then other factors can take priority over longevity.
- EPA Registration. Not all fuel stabilizers are registered with the EPA. EPA approval or registration is vital to make sure you’re choosing a product that’s good for both your car’s engine and the roads you’re driving on. This specific designation will tell you that a particular stabilizer is perfectly safe and suitable for you to use.
- Alcohol-Free Formula. One of the key ways fuel degrades over time is through too much water absorption. And any fuel stabilizer that contains alcohol in its blend of ingredients will make this a much bigger problem for your vehicle. Any alcohol present will make water absorption happen, and it’ll fail to protect your fuel correctly.
Best Fuel Stabilizers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- If you're adding fuel stabilizer directly into your gas tank, be sure you add it before filling your tank. This will ensure you only use the desired amount of stabilizer, and the fuel pump will help mix the additive evenly throughout the tank.
- The condition you keep your fuel and fuel stabilizer makes a huge difference. Make sure your containers are in a safe and dry storage area and that they are out of direct sunlight.
- Always follow the company's suggestions when it comes to using fuel stabilizer. The amounts are important to ensure your fuel is protected and you are getting the most out of your purchase.
- Be aware of what type of fuel you use before you buy fuel stabilizer. Some additives can be used with different types of fuel, while some only work with one. Be especially careful if you have a diesel engine, as most companies produce separate stabilizers specifically for diesel fuel.
Q: Should I use fuel stabilizer?
Using fuel stabilizer is entirely optional, but it has many benefits that might make it the right option for you. Using fuel stabilizer will keep your gasoline fresh while in storage and also cleans your fuel system from impurities and water buildup.
Q: Can fuel stabilizer fix old gasoline?
No, fuel stabilizer cannot convert bad fuel into good fuel. It needs to be added to good fuel, but it will keep that gasoline fresh.
Q: How long does fuel stabilizer stay good?
There’s no exact answer to this, but there are some things to consider. An open container won’t last as long as a sealed container—which will remain usable for a long time. Also, the climate that the container is kept in can negatively affect its longevity.
Q: When should you use a fuel stabilizer?
If you’re planning to put your vehicle into storage or know you won’t be driving it for some time, it’s time to add a fuel stabilizer. Additionally, if you’re keeping a gallon or two of gasoline stored in a gas can, you’ll want to add some stabilizer. A fuel stabilizer can offer protection and beneficial effects for as long as 24 months, ensuring gas is clean and safe to use even if it’s been stored for some time.
Q: Does fuel stabilizer really work?
Fuel stabilizers really do work. If you’ve ever left your car in storage or even checked out an old gas can full of fuel, you’ll notice that over time fuel becomes gummy and deteriorates, changing its composition and liquidity.
Q: Can you use too much fuel stabilizer?
It is possible to use too much fuel stabilizer. Make sure you’re reading the instructions for use before adding any stabilizer into your gas tank — you can find the recommended amount and learn how often you can use the stabilizer right on the bottle.
For overall protection and preservation, Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment is the best fuel stabilizer.
For customers who want a great product at a cheaper price, STA-BIL 22214 Fuel Stabilizer is an amazing option.