Are Fuel Additives Worth It?

June 12, 2019

Here at Hot Shot’s Secret, we know fuel additives are a controversial topic. Some people are diehard additive fans, while others believe they’re a gimmick.

J.C. Counts, owner and operator at TD Diesel in Newberry, South Carolina, says customers frequently ask him to use specific additives even though they’re not sure what those products are supposed to do.

“It puts me in an awkward position because I know their request is for a substandard product,” Counts says. “They simply recognize the name on the shelf and nothing about the product itself.” 

Fortunately, real, trustworthy additives do exist. Discover the benefits of using the right additives in the proper applications.

What Are Fuel Additives?

A fuel additive is a product you introduce to your system to improve performance. Different additives can clean your engine, lubricate your system or even increase your gas mileage. Most common additives are created for diesel engines, but additives for gasoline-powered vehicles are also available. 

There are two main types of additives you can use in your vehicle: fuel additives and motor oil additives.

Fuel Additives

EPA regulations require that diesel fuel contains ultra-low levels of sulfur. The issue is that the sulfur removal process introduces hydrogen into the fuel, which reduces the fuel’s natural lubricity.

Biodiesel contains moisture, but ethanol and methanol configurations require dry fuel. With the various hydrocarbons and polar solvents in the fuel mixtures, the unknown characteristics of the fuel at the pump can cause some impactful and sometimes damaging results in your engine. The right fuel additive helps to restore lubricity removed in the fuel refining process. It can help to disperse moisture, boost cetane levels, remove internal deposits and build up and stabilize various fuel blends. These factors increase the motor’s efficiency and prevent breakdowns without damaging any part of the system. 

Counts says that he sees a huge difference in mileage when using fuel additives in diesel vehicles.

“I can tell I have improved throttle response,” Counts says. “My fuel filters are cleaner at replacements, and specific to my vendor’s additives, mine are nearly as clean and white as when I first installed it.”

Motor Oil Additives

The essential function of motor oil is to flow easily through the motor to lubricate the friction between moving parts and dissipate heat throughout. Using the proper additive can significantly improve the performance of that oil.

Motor oil additives help improve viscosity, reduce the friction created by moving parts and cool the engine during daily operations. These additives work by creating increased lubricity bonds between the source oil compounds, which allows the oil to flow more smoothly through the motor.

What do Benefits Do Fuel Additives provide?

Using the proper additives can significantly enhance the performance of your vehicle, from increasing your mileage to cleaning and preventing buildup in your engine. 

Here’s a list of our top additive picks and the benefits you can expect to see from each:

FR3 Friction Reducer

FR3 Friction Reducer

FR3 Friction Reducer is an oil additive with patented synthetic lubricants that increase the host oil’s ability to lubricate and reduce wear in your engine. 

Its unique lubricating properties come from Group 5 synthetic esters, which are negatively charged particles that adhere to your engine’s internal system to lubricate it. Those esters also increase the lubrication of your rubber seal and prevent oil leaks by slightly swelling the seal. 

FR3’s patented carbon nanoparticle close microscopic holes on the machine’s surface, which creates a smooth film that the lubricant can attach to. This process reduces wear rates by 43% according to the ASTM G-133 test. 

Our nanoparticles crosslink together, which allows the formula to increase system lubrication and film strength. The synergistic nature of these components improves performance in friction reduction, shear stability, film strength and oxidation stability.

By removing deposits that appear on pistons and rings, FR3 provides a smoother surface, which increases the effectiveness of ring sealing, improves combustion efficiency and reduces blow-by.

Reducing friction also lowers operating temperatures and enhances the oxidative stability of your host oil, which can extend the life of your engine. Plus, regular use of FR3 frequently results in 5% horsepower and fuel mileage gains, as demonstrated in dyno and road testing.

Everyday Diesel Treatment

Everyday Diesel Treatment (EDT) helps replenish the lubricity lost in creating ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) and biodiesel. 

The removal of sulfur, and hence the loss of lubricity, from diesel fuel causes increased friction between all the moving parts in your fuel system. Plus, lower sulfur fuel is unable to dissolve the waxy soap deposits that form in fuel systems and are very difficult to filter. Most diesel fuel contains at least a portion of biodiesel, which contains glycerides. 

We formulated Hot Shot’s Secret Everyday Diesel Treatment to work as an injector cleaner, cetane improver, neutral and sulfur-free lubricity agent, water dispersant, rust and corrosion inhibitor and fuel stabilizer. 

EDT’s injector cleaner cleans diesel injector and waxy soap deposits from all parts of your fuel system, including your upper cylinders, fuel tank, fuel pumps and lines. It also returns asphaltenes and glycerides into the solution, which prevents an excess from forming. When your diesel fuel is clean, your system can be free of filter plugs and injector deposits. The injector cleaner also neutralizes acids produced by hydrodesulfurization, which prevents carboxylic salts from forming in your system. 

Independent testing on EDT showed a restoration of up to 67% lost power in the Peugeot CEC F98-08 DW-10 test. The product also passed the ASTM D2068 Filter Blocking Test. 

In most states, diesel fuel contains cetane levels of around 42 to 45. While the minimum required level is 40, most diesel engines operate more efficiently with levels of 48 to 50. To guarantee your engine’s most effective performance, EDT contains a cetane improver that can raise your cetane number by four to seven points. 

There are many benefits to increasing cetane numbers. For example, cold starting your car using higher cetane fuel produces less black smoke because it will improve your combustion efficiency. Additionally, using EDT in your fuel can decrease the presence of hydrocarbons and particulate matter in your exhaust, which reduces the risk of blocking your diesel particulate filter by 50%. 

Increased cetane levels can also improve fuel mileage and power. In fleet tests using EDT, fuel mileage improved up to 7.3%, and power increased up to 12.3%. This happened due to the combination of Hot Shot’s Secret injector cleaner and cetane improver, which also restores throttle response. 

Further, EDT’s cetane improvement effect provides a smoother, less erratic pressure buildup in the combustion chamber during the ignition delay period between injection and ignition.

Stiction Eliminator 

Hot Shot’s Secret’s original Stiction Eliminator is a safe, effective injection cleaner that breaks down stiction formations on any oil-wetted component. As a result, it scored a 92% clean rating on the ASTM D4828 scrub test. Using a Group V synthetic ester, Stiction Eliminator returns important additives and deposits to your solution, which reduces friction and lubricates your system. 

When International Truck and Engine requested a product to eliminate stiction-caused warranty and performance issues in the powerstroke and navistar hydraulic electric unit injectors (HEUI), we created Stiction Eliminator. The formula removes the friction created from sticky byproducts of burnt oil, thus eliminating the black smoke, bucking and chugging you might experience when hard starting.

Stiction Eliminator is not a flush that contains harsh solvents which can potentially harm your engine. It’s a long-lasting solution that cleans away the gum, stiction and varnish and stiction built up in your system while lubricating the engine. Because you can leave Stiction Eliminator in your system for the duration of your oil’s life, it’s an inexpensive way to prevent stiction issues in the future. It can also help to reduce spool time while building maximum boost sooner in the RPM range. 

Stiction Eliminator also returns HEUI injectors to factory standards and optimizes engine performance by restoring injector oil flow. This restoration corrects injector timing, injector spray patterns and fuel flow. 

Those benefits hold true for more than just HEUI injectors since stiction can appear on many other engine components. For example, high-temperature turbocharger bearings that operate with tight tolerance are known to experience severe stiction buildup. 

Whether you use it to solve existing problems or to prevent future ones, Stiction Eliminator will thoroughly protect and clean your diesel engine.

Who Can Use Fuel Additives?

We’re fuel additive fanatics, but we acknowledge that some people can benefit from additives more than others. You’ll see the best results if:

  • You live in extreme climates: If you drive a diesel-powered vehicle and live in an area that experiences harsh winters, an anti-gel additive can help prevent clogged fuel filters and improve lubricity.
  • You drive an older vehicle: Additives can help to reduce engine and fuel system wear and extend the life of your car. An injection cleaner or high-quality lubricant would be a good choice for you.
  • Your vehicle is idle for long periods of time: Starting a car up after a long time has passed between drives can be a difficult experience. Occasional use of a cetane-boosting fuel stabilizer can help to improve startups and maintain your engine’s performance.
  • You mostly use your vehicle for short trips: Because the engine doesn’t get hot enough to clean itself during short trips, carbon can build up under the hood. Using an injection cleaner can help to eliminate those deposits and keep your engine squeaky clean.

If your vehicle is new, you don’t need additives. You can use them, but the benefits won’t be as noticeable since your vehicle’s performance is already at its peak.

You also may not need certain additives if you live in a region with a moderate climate. For example, if you live in an area where winters are harsh but spring and summer are mild, you only need to use additives in the winter. Ultimately, consult with a trusted mechanic to ensure you’re using the right product for your vehicle. 

Pros of Fuel Additives

Pros of Fuel Additives

In addition to increased mileage and improved lubricity, high-quality additives can provide some of the following benefits:

  • Smoother acceleration: With a cleaner engine, you’ll be able to push your vehicle to higher speeds easier.
  • More money saved: Since your fuel will cycle more effectively through your engine, you can use all the fuel in your system. And that means you’ll need to visit the pump less often.
  • Reduced levels of rust and corrosion: Using an engine-cleaning additive will help keep your engine in pristine condition.

Of course, the benefits you experience depend on the products you use and the problems you’re trying to solve. 

Cons of Fuel Additives

It’s a common misconception that using fuel additives while your car is still new can void your warranty. In reality, if your car is damaged, your warranty can only be voided if your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can prove that the additive was the cause of the problem. So if you have a newer vehicle, you can rest assured with the knowledge that pouring a little Stiction Eliminator in your engine is safe.

Another issue that many people run into with additives is the sheer amount of additives on the market today. It can be overwhelming to choose the right additive for your engine when there are so many similar products that promise to do the same thing. Researching each different product can help pin down which ones could benefit you. 

Need a starting point? Check out our online Diagnose Your Diesel tool for recommendations.

One more thing to keep in mind is that additives from less reputable companies can contain damaging chemicals. Make sure you do your research before choosing any additive. We at Hot Shot’s Secret formulate all our additives with high-quality ingredients and subject each product to multiple rounds of rigorous testing before putting them on the market.

Explore Hot Shot's Secret Fuel Additives

Explore Hot Shot’s Secret Fuel Additives

Are additives worth it? If you want your vehicle to run better, reduce the total cost of ownership, avoid breakdowns, and stay on the road longer, then the answer is yes. Check out our testimonials to hear from real people who love our additives. 

Ready to dive in? Browse our selection of additives to find your fuel’s next secret ingredient.