Best Fuel Additives: Maximize Your Fuel Efficiency with These Top Picks
Consider these fuel additives to improve efficiency in gas-powered vehicles.
Fuel additives are an extremely convenient and effective accessory for maximizing fuel efficiency in your gas-powered vehicles. Gasoline has been known to leave deposits over time that can damage your vehicle’s fuel system. Fuel additives can be used to prevent and fix many of these problems caused by deposits.
If you want to avoid rough idling, stumbling, weak acceleration, and stalling, consider getting a high-quality fuel additive for your vehicle. Additives will help to improve your vehicle's performance and extend the overall life span of your engine. We looked at the best fuel additives available on the market. Whether you’re looking for great value, reliability, durability, or versatility, read on to see which additive is the best fit for your vehicle.
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Types of Fuel Additives
Gas treatments are formulated with polyisobutene, and for that reason are cheap and widely available. They help improve the quality of gas by getting rid of harmful carbon deposits for cleaner emissions and breaking down water particles that can dilute the fuel.
Fuel Injector Cleaner
Fuel injector cleaners are an upgrade from gas treatments since they contain polyetheramine (PEA), which is one of the strongest cleaning agents. It also cleans more parts in comparison including the direct fuel injectors. The compound also removes clogs and carbon buildup in the fuel filter to restore it to its full functioning level.
You can expect the quality of fuel to diminish over time if your vehicle is left idle for a season or if the fuel is in storage. Fuel stabilizers work to maintain the quality of the fuel by absorbing water and slowing down oxidation and chemical breakdown of the fuel. It also keeps fuel fresh for a relatively long time if it's in storage.
While octane boosters aren’t formulated with the strongest cleaning agents, they do a good job of increasing the octane level in the fuel. Octane boosters help to clear away carbon deposits from the fuel intake system and are typically added to the gas tank before filling it up. A higher octane level results in fewer emissions of greenhouse gases.
Red Line is a California-based company that was founded in 1979. It currently manufactures more than 100 high-quality car care products. It uses cutting edge technology to create products that meet the performance demands of the industry. Some of its top products include the Red Line Complete Fuel System Cleaner and the Red Line V-Twin Primary Case Oil.
Royal Purple is a Texas-based producer of synthetic oils and lubricants with more than 200 years of experience. Its high-performance synthetic products significantly outperform mineral-based oils, petroleum byproducts, and other synthetics in the industry. Some of its top-quality products include the Royal Purple Max-Clean and the Royal Purple 10-48.
Chevron manufactures a wide line of additives that improve the performance of lubricants and fuels. Its products can be used on a wide line of vehicles, motorcycles, ships, farms, and industrial equipment. The company was founded in 1984 and has different brands under its umbrella including Techron, Caltex, Star Mart, Revtex, and Delo. Some of its best-rated oil additives include the Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner and the Techron D Concentrate.
Lucas is one of the best North American-based manufacturers of lubricants, fuel additives, and automotive oils. The company was founded in 1989 and is currently headquartered in Corona, California. It’s also a sponsor of the American racing industry. Some of its popular products include the Lucas Transmission Fix and the Lucas LUC10013 Fuel Treatment.
Fuel Additives Pricing
- Under $30: The pricing difference with fuel additives is usually determined by the size of the bottle. You should, therefore, expect to find anything below a gallon within this price range. How good or effective it depends on the brand and formulation.
- Over $30: Expect to find anything above a gallon in this price range. You will need to purchase an extra funnel, preferably a calibrated one, to measure the contents that you pour into the system, and to avoid making a mess.
Some manufacturers make fuel additives that are specific to either diesel or gas engines. You can also find a multifunctional product that works for both. It’s important that you choose a product that’s compatible with your engine’s fuel to avoid corrosive chemical reactions and damage rubber seals that will result in engine failure. Also, consult your owner’s manual on what types of formulations or ingredients you should avoid for your engine.
Fuel additives come in different sizes from 11-ounce bottles to large 5-gallon jars. If you don’t like to hoard car care products in your garage, you can go for a small bottle with just the right amount to treat your engine. However, there’s an upside to buying larger quantities: You can treat multiple vehicles or save money in the long run if it comes with a reasonable price tag.
Prioritize fuel additives have an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) label, meaning that they comply with environmental regulations. Such a product typically works by dissolving carbon deposits in the fuel to reduce exhaust smoke production and harmful carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
- Ease of Use: Ideally, there’s no learning curve to using a fuel additive since most come pre-prepared. What you are looking for, in this case, is a well-packaged, clear container that’s easy to hold and lets you know how much fluid is left.
- Range of Use: Prioritize additives that offer a wide number of benefits to the fuel system besides cleaning it. The best oil additives lubricate the engine parts, stabilize the fuel, prevent corrosion, and some also have engine cooling agents.
- Shelf Life: It’s important to choose a product with a long shelf life if you plan on buying in bulk or using the additive for a long period. Additives can remain stable for at least two years but when they expire, they typically leak from their containers. It’s a no-brainer that it will be useless after that.
Best Fuel Additives Reviews & Recommendations 2021
Best OverallLucas LUC10013 Fuel Treatment
Lucas offers a fuel treatment additive that cleans, lubricates, and neutralizes poor quality fuel. It doesn’t contain alcohol or solvents, and is made of heat-resistant oils to maintain its effectiveness during extreme pressure conditions in the engine. As for the formulation, the engine oil features fuel injector cleaners that remove sediments and sludge, which often lead to spark plug misfires. It also contains fuel conditioners that neutralize low sulfur problems in the fuel system.
This Lucas Fuel Treatment is one versatile product that works on both gas and diesel engines, and is known to improve the octane rating of gas. It can also be used on both fuel-injected and carburetor engines, and works well on locomotives, marine, and non-road engines. Since the product keeps your fuel system clean and lubricated, you can expect better fuel economy, lowered emissions, and less wear on the critical engine components.
Unfortunately, the product has a strong formulation with some chemicals that are considered to be harmful to the environment. You should remember to wear gloves when handling it, as even slight contact can cause skin irritation. It can also stain parts of your car’s paint body with accidental spills. We recommend that you use it with a funnel to avoid spills.
Best ValueRed Line Complete Fuel System Cleaner
This fuel system cleaner offers an alternative to buying high octane gas. This is because it has a patented formula that removes carbon deposits from the engine. It also does a good job at cleaning deposits such as gum and varnish from the carburetors, injectors, valve, and combustion chamber. What’s more, the fluid features a concentrated blend of high- and low-temperature detergents to make it stable and effective under extreme engine conditions.
Not only is it a good cleaner, but it also contains a synthetic lubricant that will reduce friction in the upper cylinder. There are no harmful ingredients in the formulation and it, therefore, won’t be toxic for your engine or the environment if used continuously. Lastly, the fluid comes in a clear bottle that’s easy to use, even without a funnel.
The main downside of this cleaner is that it comes in a small bottle and you have to keep buying more if you want to reduce the deposits in your fuel system. You may also have to use more than one bottle if you have a large fuel tank. It’s only formulated for gas engines and, therefore, not all vehicles and heavy-duty equipment can benefit from it.
Honorable MentionStar Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment Concentrate
The Star Tron Fuel Treatment is a strong fuel system additive that stabilizes gas (including ethanol blends) for up to two years. It has antioxidants that prevent fuel separation. A unique blend of enzymes in its formulation helps to improve fuel combustibility and, in turn, provides more engine power and improves fuel economy, even if the engine was sitting idle throughout a season.
The product also features deep cleaning action that removes gum, carbon, and varnish from the tanks to the injectors. This eventually makes your engine start easily and run smoothly. It goes further to break down excess water and sludge to smaller particles that can be burned away when the engine is in operation.
The main drawback of the product is that it’s only suitable for gasoline engines. You need a funnel to pour out the contents since the container doesn’t allow for spill-free pouring. Moreover, it’s a bit expensive in comparison to most one-gallon fuel additives.
Premium PickOpti-Lube XPD Formula Diesel Fuel Additive
The Opti-Lube XPD Formula Diesel Fuel Additive is specially formulated for diesel-powered engines. This product is available as a 1-gallon bottle with accessories, including a hand pump and two empty 8-ounce bottles. There’s enough additive included to treat up to 512 gallons of fuel. It’s recommended to add this formula to your vehicle while refueling at the gas station pump. This will ensure that the gel is mixed properly with your fuel and that it won’t separate or fall out of solution. During colder months, this formula helps prevent large, filter-plugging crystals from forming in your fuel. Make sure to follow the instructions on the back of the bottle to improve your vehicle's fuel economy, reduce deposits and emissions, and prevent rust and corrosion.
The only major downside to the Opti-Lube XPD Formula Diesel Fuel Additive is its price point. But it can treat up to 512 gallons, so it’s likely a great purchase for the premium price. This additive is formulated only for use with diesel-powered vehicles.
Most VersatileHelix Racing Products 5-in-1 Ultimate Fuel Additive
The Helix Racing Products 5-in-1 Ultimate Fuel Additive is a highly reliable and versatile product. This additive is designed to work with both 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines. It has been proven to eliminate water from fuel systems and stabilize fuel for up to two years. The product cleans injectors, carburetors, and fuel system components. It also boosts octane by up to two points. An 8-ounce bottle of this fuel additive can treat up to 16 gallons of fuel. The product is specially formulated from complex, bio-based compounds that alter burn chemistry for a more complete combustion. Regular use of this additive results in more power, better mileage, and a cleaner environment. The trustworthy product is made by a reputable automotive manufacturer.
Some customers have reported damaged packages upon delivery. Make sure to inspect your bottle for any dents, rips, or tears, and reach out to the company about a potential refund or replacement if you notice any damage.
Honorable MentionHot Shot's Secret Everyday Diesel Treatment
This fuel additive from Hot Shot’s Secret is designed to help diesel engines perform better. It promises to boost cetane by up to seven points, which helps engines start more quickly, especially on cold days. Just 2 ounces makes 25 gallons of diesel fuel a lot more stable, reducing the chance of corrosive deposits.
Everyday Diesel Treatment is especially useful for diesel vehicles that sit for long periods of time, such as motorcoaches. It keeps the fuel in the tank stable, saving your RV from having to burn layers of soot from its engine when you start it up in the spring.
EDT is also an effective treatment for the decline in fuel economy that all diesel engines experience at high mileage. Much of that drop in performance is rooted in the deposits that build up in the engine over time—cleaning them out with an additive like this helps them run close to new.
Be warned that EDT isn’t guaranteed to affect fuel economy in every vehicle, and that you might not notice a change. It’s also sensitive to open air, and can turn into impenetrable gunk if left out for too long (and the smell is quite intense).
Honorable MentionStanadyne Performance Formula Diesel Fuel Additive
Stanadyne Performance Formula is for diesel engines. The company claims that this formula has been proven by independent testing to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, with 9.6 percent as the best gain. We weren’t able to get numbers that rigorous, but we did see noticeably better fuel economy.
In addition to bumping up your miles per gallon, Stanadyne Performance vows to improve cetane for easier ignition, cut down on your engine’s emissions, and increase horsepower by freeing your engine from soot, gunk, and oxidation.
That’s a lot of bold statements. Like with any additive, the actual results will vary from vehicle to vehicle. We can say for certain, however, that Stanadyne vastly extends the lifespan of engines and fuel injectors, and makes diesel vehicles run cleaner and quieter. Perhaps the biggest draw, though, is that each bottle is a complete solution, removing the need to buy separate winterizers and stabilizers.
It’s not perfect, of course. You can only buy bottles in bulk, which will be prohibitively expensive for some. It’s also known to void the warranties on certain vehicles, so make sure to read the terms of your warranty closely if you plan to use it.
Honorable MentionChevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner
The Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner is one of the best all-around products for cleaning your vehicle's entire fuel system, restoring lost power and performance caused by deposit buildup. It cleans deposits from fuel injectors, carburetors, ports, valves, and combustion chambers. The 20-ounce bottle is recommended for use every 3,000 miles. It’s also available in 12-ounce and 32-ounce bottles, as well as value six-packs of each size. For the 20-ounce bottle, it’s recommended to add it to a nearly empty fuel tank and refuel at the gas station with up to 20 gallons of gasoline. Cleaning your engine with this additive will lead to better performance, lower emissions, and improved fuel economy.
One downside of the Chevron Techron Concentrate Plus Fuel System Cleaner is that it’s not recommended for use with all vehicles. Make sure to consult your vehicle's manual or contact your vehicle manufacturer to determine if this product will work with your specific make and model.
Honorable MentionSTA-BIL 360 Marine Ethanol Treatment and Fuel Stabilizer
The STA-BIL 360 Marine Ethanol Treatment and Fuel Stabilizer is a great fuel additive for marine environments. This product helps prevent corrosion above and below the fuel line where no other additive can. It provides ultimate treatment and protection against ethanol-blended fuels. It’s a proven product that stabilizes fuel for up to one year. The product will not only help to improve power in your vehicle, but also improve your fuel efficiency. The fuel additive is more concentrated than comparable products, so it can hold up in even the harshest marine environments. It makes a great addition to your boat, jet ski, or any other watercraft. The treatment rate is 1 ounce to 10 gallons of fuel. It’s available in bottles ranging from 8 ounces up to 1 gallon.
One issue with the STA-BIL 360 Marine Ethanol Treatment and Fuel Stabilizer is its reliability. Some customers have reported issues with a poor aluminum seal on the bottle. If you notice that the bottle is leaking upon delivery, reach out to the company regarding a potential refund or replacement.
Honorable MentionQuicksilver Quickleen Engine & Fuel System Cleaner
Quicksilver Quickleen is a well-regarded fuel additive that you might have heard of under its other brand name, Mercury. While it was originally formulated for Yamaha outboard motors, it works in all 2-stroke and 4-stroke gasoline engines (though it’s not for diesel).
Quickleen scrubs your engine of harmful deposits to improve efficiency, cut down on knocking, and prevent pre-ignitions that can ruin your spark plugs. It’s by far most effective on older engines that haven’t been regularly maintained. These tend to have the most carbon and oxide deposits gumming up the works, and so will see a major performance boost from a decent cleaning.
It also keeps gas stable, which is to be expected since it was designed for seasonally-used boats. If you have any vehicle or appliance with a gas engine, from a lawnmower to an F-150, Quickleen is a cheap insurance policy for leaving it unused over the off-season.
The other side of the coin is that if your vehicle isn’t that old, or your engine isn’t that dirty, you likely won’t see much difference from using Quickleen. Shipment is also problematic, with the flimsy glass bottles sometimes arriving broken.
- When fuel additives come in contact with your skin or eyes, wash them right away. If you swallow the fuel additive, see a physician as soon as possible.
- To get the best out of your fuel additive, always use it on an empty tank or just before your next refill. This is because these chemicals work well before combustion.
- To ensure that your vehicle’s engine is well-protected, use the right amount of additive and refill as necessary.
- The type or brand of fuel additive you use may depend on your purpose for adding it. Make sure to research each product and determine if it’s a fuel system cleaner, fuel injection cleaner, gas mileage additive, or cooling system additive before making your final purchase.
- Make sure to thoroughly read the instructions included with your fuel additive to determine when and how to properly add it to your fuel. Failure to do so could result in incorrect use and potential damage to your vehicle's fuel system.
Q: Will fuel additives damage my car?
Fuel additives are harmless to vehicles. You can rest easy knowing that your vehicle will be safe and perform better.
Q: When should I add the additive?
Gas treatments work best when they are added to the fuel tank first, before combustion. This means if you want to add a fuel additive, you should do so before you add any more gas to your vehicle. Just put in the recommended amount even if your tank is not empty.