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Fuel Additives FAQs All of Your Fuel Additive Questions Answered

Many consumers are confused when it comes to purchasing and using a fuel additive. There are several products on the market today that claim to do everything from clean your fuel injectors to increase the octane of gasoline. Deciding which product will benefit your vehicle, as well as knowing when to use it, can be a daunting task. The experts at the Prestone Products Research & Development laboratory have answered some frequently asked questions about fuel additives.

1. Why should a consumer use a fuel additive? Isn’t regular gas good enough?

The quality of the fuel available to consumers can vary significantly. The United States Environmental Protection Agency mandates a minimum level of gasoline detergency, which consumers may wish to supplement for their vehicles. Using a fuel additive can help clean deposits that may form in fuel injectors, intake valves, combustion chambers and carburetors during normal vehicle operation. And while some vehicles are more prone to deposit formation than others, any vehicle may be susceptible depending on age, driving conditions and other factors.

When these deposits form, a vehicle can experience knocks and pings, hesitation, rough idle, hard starting and lost performance. Adding a specially formulated fuel additive can help resolve these problems and serve as a first step in basic vehicle maintenance.

2. Several fuel additive products have similar claims. What’s the difference?

The concentration of key ingredients is lower in maintenance and keep-clean products and higher in premium, super-concentrated, one-tank cleanup formulas. Therefore, products with higher concentrations do everything the lowest concentration products do, and more. In general, products with the higher concentrations are designed to remove tougher deposits, while those with lower concentrations are intended to keep the system clean or remove lighter deposits when used at every fill up. For example, Prestone ® Gas Treatment helps clean fuel injectors and carburetors and can be used at every fill up, whereas Prestone ® Complete Fuel System Cleaner removes both fuel injector and intake valve deposits in a one-tank treatment.

3. How often can each additive be used?

How often a motorist can use each fuel additive depends on the type of product and its formula’s strength.

Fuel Injector Cleaners should be used as needed to clean clogged fuel injectors and help remove intake valve deposits, but Prestone experts recommend using one bottle with every oil change.

Complete Fuel System Cleaners may be used every 4,000 miles to clean clogged fuel injectors and intake valve deposits, although more frequent use will not cause any problems or harm the vehicle.

4. Is it OK for consumers to use different fuel additives together?

Generally, it is not necessary or beneficial to use these products ogether since they are designed at different strengths for different problems. However, it will not harm your vehicle if you regularly use a general maintenance product to maintain overall cleanliness, after using a premium clean-up product to help restore performance.

5. Can fuel additives be harmful to any vehicles? Are there any vehicles that a driver should not use an additive in?

When used as directed, most fuel additives have been shown to be completely safe for fuel system or combustion system components — including the oxygen sensor and catalytic converter.

6. I thought fuel additives were just for older vehicles. Is this correct?

Since not all pump fuel is of equal quality, deposits can form in any system. Older vehicles may be more susceptible to deposit formation simply because their combustion control systems are less sophisticated than newer cars and they are more likely to have been run on older, unadditized gasoline in the past.

7. I drive an SUV. Do I need to use a fuel additive?

Consumers should consider using fuel additives regardless of the make or model of their vehicle. Sport utility vehicles are no different. Since SUVs consume large quantities of gasoline, it is important that these vehicles run at peak performance in order not to waste gasoline. SUVs with diesel engines also have the option of using f uel treatments. These fuel additives protect diesel engine fuel systems from deposit build-up and corrosion, while it cleans fuel injectors to help improve engine performance.

8. Does using a fuel additive alter the gas in any way?

Fuel additives — other than Prestone ® 0 to 60 ® Octane Booster — do not alter the properties of gasoline. The octane booster is formulated to raise the octane of regular unleaded gasoline by up to 10 points. The term “points” is commonly used in the automotive industry when referring to the octane increase a product offers. This is different from the figures shown at your local gas pump, where the octane rating of a gasoline is measured in “numbers.” This can sometimes create confusion as to how “points” translate to “numbers.” The following calculation can be used to translate points to numbers: 1 octane point = 0.1 octane number. Increasing the octane of gasoline has several positive effects on automobile performance. A higher-octane gasoline will allow a car to run smoother, which ultimately restores lost performance.

9. If I use premium gas, do I need to use a fuel additive?

The quality is not different between regular unleaded and premium unleaded gasoline; only the octane changes. A fuel additive will benefit and enhance your vehicle’s fuel system regardless of your preferred grade of gas.

10. Will using a fuel additive in addition to what is already in the gas harm my car?

The technology used in fuel additive products is fully compatible with the additives in fuel at a local gas station. Using a fuel additive in gasoline that already contains a detergent additive will not harm the engine. In fact, it will work with the gasoline additive to better clean intake valves, fuel injectors and carburetors.

11. If I use a fuel additive regularly will I still have to replace my fuel injectors at the recommended service interval?

Regular use of a fuel additive can help your vehicle run smoothly and efficiently, and restore the lost power that can result from clogged fuel injectors as well as dirty carburetors and intake valves. However, a fuel additive will not serve as a substitute for regular maintenance. Follow the guidelines in your vehicle owner’s manual for the proper maintenance schedule.

“Choosing the right fuel additive for your vehicle can be a difficult task,” comments Richard Courtney, Director of Prestone Products R&D and Technical Services. “However, for just a few dollars, motorists can maintain their vehicles very quickly and conveniently. Adding a fuel additive on a regular basis for preventative maintenance is well worth the investment.”

Prestone fuel additives and other Prestone products are available at most local automotive and discount retail outlets. To learn more about the complete line of Prestone products, consumers can log on to or call (800) 862-7737.

The Prestone brand is part of the Honeywell Consumer Products Group, a division of Honeywell International Inc., and is headquartered in Danbury, Conn.

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