Among mechanics and automobile enthusiasts, oil additives are often the subject of controversy. Some believe the additives help to increase the performance and lifespan of their engines, while others say they aren’t worth the hype.
There are many benefits to using oil additives, including higher gas mileage, longer provider periods, and decreased engine noise. But are engine oil additives good or bad?
Our purpose in this article is to explore that are engine oil additives good or bad, and how oil additives work. Will oil additives harm your engine, or will they help it? Knowing the capacities of engine oil additives for your vehicle can help you determine if they are appropriate.
What are Oil Additives?
Before you can recognize the feature of an engine oil additive, it’s important to understand the purpose of motor oil itself. The main function of motor oil is to lubricate your engine and reduce friction among its many moving parts.
Additionally, oil assists in protecting against corrosion, removing contaminants, keeping the engine cool, and stopping sludge build-up.
There are already base oils and additives in your regular engine oil, so it already contains both. Over 70-90 percent of the total is made up of base oils, which are derived from crude oil or herbal fuel lines, while the remaining 10-30 percent is made up of additives.
Some additives can be used for specific purposes, including detergents, anti-wear additives, friction modifiers, antioxidants, corrosion inhibitors, viscosity index improvers, etc. For oil formulations to be effective, millions of dollars and hours are spent growing and testing them.
It is possible to change the chemical composition of oil by adding additives during the oil-making process or by adding them afterward. Different oil additives may be chosen in order to impart the desired properties of a selected oil to specific applications.
In addition to helping clean a grimy diesel engine run cleaner, engine oil additives can also improve seals and block leaks in old engines. Most motor oils contain approximately 15 to 30% oil additives that can be used instantly.
At the automobile parts store, most of the brightly colored bottles you see are aftermarket or supplemental engine oil additives. While some claim to increase the oil’s lifespan and others claim to reduce engine smoke, there is mixed evidence regarding whether or not they work.
A motor oil can’t perform its crucial functions without oil additives. However, motor oil may lack oil additives due to a number of reasons. Motor oil clearly degrades over time due to oxidation and decomposition.
In addition to filtration or settling, oil additives can also be lost through adsorption on steel and water surfaces.
Essentially, if the oil is used for a long period, the extra additives will be misplaced, resulting in low-quality engine oil lacking essential additives from the beginning. As a result, your engine can suffer from increased wear and tear over time if you use motor oil that does not contain vital additives.
Furthermore, it may lead to negative gasoline economy, rust and corrosion, oil sludge, overheating, and engine breakdowns. It is possible to enhance your engine’s efficiency between oil change intervals by adding aftermarket oil additives.
Best Engine Oil Additives
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Oil Additives Advantages and Disadvantages?
The use of engine oil additives extends the life of the engine oil and improves lubrication and performance under extreme temperatures.
Additives that reduce friction improve the performance of the engine.
Additives that improve the viscosity of the engine oil for optimum performance under varying operating temperatures reduce wear and tear.
It is possible, however, for engine oil additives to be affected by an incorrect combination under adverse weather conditions.
Engine oil additives have the following Advantages and Disadvantages:
- Mineral and synthetic engine oils are compatible with engine oil additives
- Ensure that there are no gaps in oil circulation (also known as ‘oil film breaks’).
- Engine components can be made less frictional by reducing friction
- The performance will be improved
- The crankshaft should be free of foam
- Sludge should not be built up
- Engine components can be extended in life
- Ensure that the engine oil lasts longer
- The cost of engine oil is increased
- Foaming can be promoted by excessive concentrations of anti-foaming agents
- Detergent additives can interfere with friction-reducing additives
- The use of sulfur additives can reduce fuel efficiency sometimes and damage catalytic converters
- The most effective brands are reputed brands like 3M.
- If your vehicle requires engine oil additives, consult experts about their use in different weather conditions and terrains.
- All that is usually needed is regular maintenance and oil changes.
Types of Engine Oil Additives
In order to suit different applications and engines, a variety of oil additives are available. Among the additives for engine oil are those that control chemical breakdown, promote cleanliness, disperse deposits, and prevent corrosion, as well as those that improve viscosity and promote cleanliness.
Oil additives are often mixed together with conventional and synthetic motor oils to create suitable oil for certain engines. A single oil additive may be used in aftermarket oil supplements to address a specific problem or a blend of additives may be used to improve engine performance.
Aftermarket oil supplements and motor oil additives typically contain the following types:
It is often said that viscosity modifiers are the best engine additives because they improve an oil’s viscosity index as it heats and cools. A motor oil’s viscosity index indicates how much it changes as the engine heats and cools. It will become too thin at high temperatures and too thick at low temperatures if its viscosity fluctuates significantly.
No matter what the outside temperature is, viscosity modifiers, also called VIIs, keep your motor oil’s viscosity within an acceptable range.
The viscosity of the oil is much more or much less identical to its thickness, which refers to how freely it drifts through the engine and coats all the components it needs to coat. If the viscosity of an oil is too high, it will likely be reluctant to drift and will gum up the works; if the viscosity is too low, it will drift through the engine like water and will not stick spherically long enough to perform its function.
As well as this, oil viscosity changes with temperature, becoming more viscous as it gets cold and much less viscous as it gets hot, so viscosity is affected by both the weather and how warm your engine is.
As viscosity indexes are used to alter the tendency of the oil’s viscosity to extrude with temperature. Viscosity index improves alter this index to make the extrade in viscosity small enough at a few degrees within the automobile’s ordinary temperature range that the oil is likely to be useful regardless of whether or not your vehicle is starting on a wintry morning or having an engine temperature exceeding a hundred degrees Fahrenheit (93.3 degrees Celsius).
Almost all modern-day engine oils contain VIIs. Rust inhibitors and detergents/dispersants are two types of engine oil additives that are no longer uncommon. Zinc is also added to many motor oils to guard engine surfaces and disperse sludge that builds up in the engine over time.
Most of these “additives” will already be within the oil as it comes from the manufacturer, so technically they no longer have to be delivered, at least not to the automobile owner. In an automobile supply store, however, you may find bottles of OEM engine oil additives claiming to enhance standard overall performance in the same way they claim to make your engine cleaner than the detergents you use to clean your oil already do.
The question is, are these additives really well worth paying for? Will they work more effectively than the additives already in your oil? Or are they really redundant and possibly even harmful? On the whole, they may not make much difference, but it is a subject of some controversy.
There’s a good chance that additives on store shelves will have more of a placebo effect on the cause pressure than an actual effect on the engine unless you buy your oil on the cheap from a nonstandard manufacturer or your engine has specific additive preferences stated in the owner’s manual.
To protect engine parts and surfaces from wear, anti-wear oils coat them with lubricating agents that react with metal and form a thin lubricating film when heated. Even if the motor oil’s lubricating film has degraded, anti-wear additives reduce friction and prevent engine seizure by improving engine lubrication. Corrosion and oxidation are also prevented by some anti-wear engine oil additives.
Zinc dithiophosphate (ZDDP) is a phosphorus compound found in most anti-wear additives. As it increases emissions and shortens the service life of your catalytic converter when present in the exhaust gas, ZDDP provides adequate lubrication. With Hy-per Lube, your engine will be lubricated effectively while lowering emissions and protecting your catalytic converter with a Zinc Replacement Additive formulated without ZDDP.
Corrosion and Rust Inhibitors
As a result of neutralizing acids in your motor oil and slowing oxidation, corrosion and rust inhibitors protect your engine from damaging chemical breakdown. By adding barium sulfonate and calcium to engine oil, these additives create a barrier that protects metal components from rust and corrosion and repels water.
By neutralizing oil impurities and acids created during oxidation, detergents prevent rust and keep your engine running clean. Detergents remove deposits from engine parts and prevent rust. In order to prevent oil sludge in your vehicle’s engine, detergents help to keep engine oil deposits and impurities soluble.
As a companion to detergents, dispersants keep your engine clean by suspending solid particles in your engine oil and preventing them from settling on metal parts.
For the reliable performance at any temperature, dispersants maintain your engine oil’s viscosity.
The purpose of antifoams is to prevent motor oil from foaming during combustion. Motor oil can generate small air bubbles that can cause oil pressure loss and cavitation if it isn’t treated with antifoaming additives.
Because antifoaming additives reduce the surface tension between air bubbles and engine oil, they pop and dissipate more easily. Also, foaming in motor oil reduces engine lubrication and eventually leads to corrosion. Consequently, antifoams prevent engine oil foaming, which indirectly protects against corrosion.
If antifoams are used in excess, they can actually increase the production of air bubbles. Be careful not to add too much when using antifoams. In order to prevent foaming, engine oil additives should be used at a concentration of 20 parts per million or lower.
Think about the composition of your motor oil and areas where it may be lacking when choosing the best engine additive. Check the instructions on the oil additive to ensure that it is compatible with your motor oil and will not interfere with other additives. It is possible to improve engine performance and reduce wear and tear in the long run when you supplement your oil with a high-quality aftermarket oil additive.
Do Oil Additives Really Work?
The best answer to the question “Do oil additives really work?” is “it depends”. More specifically, it depends on what they claim to do. In truth, we haven’t tested every single oil additive available, but we’re really interested in whether an oil additive is likely to perform as advertised.
Let’s take a look at some common claims for aftermarket oil additives, without naming any specific brands, and see what they are claiming. That’s how you can find out if they really work.
Oil Additives for Increased Mileage
People are fascinated by this one. Who doesn’t want to get better mileage, right? The theory goes that an oil additive will make the engine more efficient, which in turn will lead to better mileage. The most common way is to reduce friction in the engine. On one level, it makes sense. It takes less effort for the engine to generate the “work” (i.e. distance traveled) per unit of fuel if the engine components are turning more easily. There is a reduction in fuel consumption.
For starters, there is no scientific and testing evidence to suggest that any type of oil additives can significantly improve gas mileage, which is why let’s take a step back. During the late 1980s and 1990s, Teflon-based oil additives were popular.
Since Teflon is the “slipperiest substance on earth”, it lowers friction in your engine, which leads to better gas mileage. Due to this, even Dupont refused to support the claim (and attempted to stop selling Teflon to additive blenders, but lost a court case and was forced to resume selling it).
It is likely that any change in engine performance resulting from reducing friction in the engine will be so insignificant that it cannot be detected. Therefore, if you come across an oil additive that promises you 10%, 20%, or more mileage improvement, you can safely assume that it does not work and is not worth it.
Extending Your Oil Changes
Despite its appeal to car enthusiasts, this kind of claim is fraught with danger and should be viewed with extreme caution.
Let’s talk about the theory basis first. Why do you need to change your oil? It’s not because the oil itself breaks down, but because the additives in it run out. If they don’t work, the oil cannot protect as it should. In theory, you could extend the life of an oil change if you added to these additives through the addition of an aftermarket product.
As a result, the theory is met with liability here. Every engine manufacturer has recommendations for how often the oil should be changed. These aren’t just random numbers they made up. The manufacturer made the engine, so they know best how to make sure it runs smoothly. You should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how often you should change your oil, as well as what type of oil you should use. There are good reasons for them to be recommended.
Therefore, you shouldn’t take a chance with oil additives that promise to extend oil change intervals beyond what the manufacturer recommends.
Oil stability can be summarized as an oil’s ability to resist change over time. These additives are a little more specific than those making broad claims above.
What kind of change does oil stability refer to? The change they’re referring to isn’t a reduction in its additive content; nonetheless, that’s the biggest change an oil experience throughout its lifetime. They’re referring to changes in its consistency and hydrocarbon composition. It is important to prevent the formation of polymers that might be characterized as oil sludge from occurring in the oil.
In contrast to a claim that oil stabilizers give better mileage, this type of benefit is more specific. It has been shown that oil stabilizers do actually work if you keep your attention on that particular aspect. It is important to realize, however, that stable oil is much better than sludgy oil.
However, is that really such a big deal? It has been demonstrated that the additive content is used up by the lubricating oil long before the base oil becomes unstable. The oil stability benefit claims might be a little exaggerated, then.
Moreover, some oil stabilizer manufacturers have added to their benefits claims due to competition in the marketplace and implied, directly or indirectly, that using their product would improve gas mileage or increase power, just to attract customers. Both of those don’t seem to be meaningfully impacted by an oil stabilizer.
Are Engine Oil Additives Good or Bad for my Car?
You should be able to clearly see the benefits of engine oil additives once you understand how they work. The answer to this question is a bit more complex, though. You may still be wondering why you need an oil additive if motor oil already contains these additives.
Your car does not need aftermarket oil additives to run, but they can improve your engine’s performance and longevity by providing significant benefits. You can enjoy more reliable long-term vehicle operation as well as longer service intervals when you choose the best engine additive for your application.
It is even possible to restore the engine to its previous operating condition with oil additives in older vehicles and those with high mileage.
To determine if oil additives are necessary for your vehicle, it is important to consider its age, mileage, and condition. Here are some signs that your car may benefit from oil additives:
Vehicles with High Mileage
Each time you drive, your engine oil accumulates deposits, creates friction between moving parts, and causes general wear and tear. With more miles on your car, the engine receives more stress.
In addition, a vehicle with a high-mileage engine will probably run less efficiently and be more vulnerable to damage. You may also have to replace your oil more frequently if your vehicle has high mileage.
In addition to reducing wear and stress on your engine, additives such as antifoams and anti-wear oil enhance the engine’s performance in the long run. Anti-wear oil additives protect engine parts from stiffness and seizure.
When high-mileage engines operate cleanly and allow longer intervals between oil changes, detergents and dispersants can prevent oil sludge and grime buildup. High-mileage vehicles can benefit from aftermarket oil supplements when paired with high-quality engine oil.
As with vehicles with high mileage, older cars are more likely to develop engine damage, which can quickly lead to a breakdown. Due to long-term exposure to engine oil and acids, older engines are also more prone to internal rust and corrosion.
You do not want to run your engine out due to poor lubrication or a lack of protective elements in your engine oil when you drive an older car.
Oil additives for older engines can improve engine performance by slowing down oxidation and preventing corrosion and rust in the engine. By keeping your engine clean, engine oil additives can reduce the wear caused by impurities and deposits in your motor oil. Older vehicles operate more efficiently and reliably when engine oil flows smoothly with the right viscosity and lubrication.
Vehicles with Signs of Wear
When you drive your vehicle in harsh conditions, such as extremely hot or cold weather, it may begin to show signs of damage earlier, even if the vehicle is younger or has lower mileage. Starting up a car in cold weather stresses the engine. It is possible for the engine oil to become too thick if the vehicle warms up sufficiently. As a result, deposits may build up in the oil filter or block the oil filter.
If a vehicle is not serviced regularly with periodic oil changes, it will not perform as it should, resulting in premature aging of the engine. Some of the symptoms of early engine wear include:
- Strange noises: This may be an indication of engine damage if your vehicle makes unusual noises, such as thumping, knocking, grinding, hissing, or squealing.
- Strange smells: Odors such as burnt rubber, rotten eggs, burnt fabric, gasoline, and oil may also signal internal engine wear in your vehicle.
- Smoke or steam: If you see any smoke or steam coming from under your hood, it’s time for an inspection. Dark smoke is also an indication of an oil leak.
- The check engine light: This is an obvious sign that your vehicle has engine problems. In spite of the fact that many vehicle owners ignore their check engine light because it has gone off in the past, it may be a sign of a serious problem with your engine, so it should always be taken seriously.
Vehicles with Diminished Performance
Poor engine performance may also be a sign of wear and tear due to unequal wear and tear, which can be manifested in several ways, including poor fuel efficiency and rough engine operation.
When your vehicle’s gas mileage starts to decrease, it could be a sign that your engine’s compression stroke isn’t working correctly. The best oil additives can resolve all of these issues to restore engine performance, whether they be deposition build-up, engine oil leakage, or lack of lubrication.
Low-quality oil can cause your engine to run rough or idle poorly. Engine oil additives can reduce deposits and improve oil viscosity to improve engine performance.
Are Engine Oil Additives Worth it?
In addition to reducing engine damage, oil additives can also increase the longevity of your car as well as improve its overall performance. Here are the main benefits of engine oil additives:
- Approximately 75% of wear and tear occurs in a vehicle engine when it is started up. Engine oil additives prevent dry or cold starts by lubricating all engine parts and components adequately. For a smooth start every time, high-quality oil additives create a protective seal that lasts for months.
- Improves horsepower and torque: Effective lubricants will also coat cylinder rings and valve guides to improve sealing. This is especially beneficial for engines with high mileage.
- Due to their ability to keep the engine running in top condition, oil additives extend service intervals between oil changes, providing additional protection between changes. In addition to preserving your motor oil’s essential additives, aftermarket engine oil additives extend their life by up to 50%. Fewer oil changes mean lower costs.
- Improves viscosity index of motor oil: Oil additives improve the viscosity index of motor oil for reliable performance in all weather conditions.
- By reducing foam in motor oil, engine oil is less able to dissipate heat and regulate its temperature, thus reducing its ability to dissipate heat. By reducing foam in motor oil, engine oil additives lower friction in your engine, resulting in less heat. Your engine’s lifespan can also be extended when it operates at a lower temperature.
- In older and higher mileage vehicles, or those showing signs of wear, better lubrication makes your engine more capable of absorption and cushioning mechanical shocks.
- A vehicle’s friction can consume almost 12% of its fuel energy, reducing its efficiency considerably. Improved fuel economy is beneficial to both the environment and your wallet. By reducing friction between engine parts with proper lubrication from engine oil additives, you can improve fuel economy.
With all these benefits, you might want to consider an aftermarket oil additive if you want to boost the performance and longevity of your high mileage vehicle.
The small print on Oil Additives should be Read Carefully
Using supplemental oil additives isn’t always a black-and-white decision. However, there are certain reasons to consider:
- Your car’s warranty: nobody wants to void their car’s warranty and suffer the nightmares that follow. You need to check the bottle to make sure it won’t negatively affect your engine and void your warranty. It could also depend on what the manufacturer states are safe.
- A car’s age and mileage: these are two of the largest reasons why an engine might benefit from an additive. There are even oils marketed as “high mileage” oils which contain additives designed specifically for these applications.
- By changing your oil yourself, you get to check the dipstick yourself and prevent overfilling. As a result, most shops are more concerned with getting your car a new oil change as quickly as possible and moving on to their next customer, so they may not have the time to add an aftermarket additive to your car they haven’t researched ahead of time.
A wide variety of aftermarket additives are available, formulated for a variety of purposes and purposes. By continually using these, you can improve your preventative maintenance habits and improve your engine’s performance.
Depending on the manufacturer and age of your vehicle, it is not always necessary to use these. Ensure the label on any aftermarket product for your car is accurate to avoid voiding your vehicle’s warranty and, more importantly, damaging your engine.
Steps for using Additives
In order to get the best results, you should use a high-quality oil that contains additives like anti-wear, anti-freeze, and corrosion inhibitors.
How to Use Additives:
- The oil filter reservoir should be filled with the recommended amount of additivess.
- Before starting the engine, let the oil sit for 10 minutes.
- Idle the engine for five minutes after starting it.
- Before driving again, turn off the engine and wait 30 minutes.
- Whenever you change the oil, repeat this process.
- A six-month or 3,000-mile oil change is recommended.
1. How long does it take for oil additives to work?
Adding the additive when you first fill up the oil will give you the best results. It takes about 30 minutes for the additive to work.
2. How often should I use engine oil additives?
Check your owner’s manual for the suggested amount depending on how often you drive your vehicle. Most vehicles require about 1 ounce of additives per quart of oil.
3. How do oil additives serve to prolong the motor’s life?
In order for the additives to work, certain chemicals must be added to the oil. These chemicals react with the existing molecules, forming new ones. This thickens the oil and extends its shelf life.
4. What is the best additive for noisy lifters?
Your engine won’t run quieter with just any additive. Instead, you’ll have to figure out why it’s making noise so you can pick the most appropriate additive.
5. Can oil additives be used to keep the internal engine parts clean?
Yes, but only if you’re replacing the oil.
6. Is it okay to mix different types of engine oils?
You can even improve your oil’s quality by mixing different kinds of engine oils together.
7. Will oil additives stop knocking sounds from the motor?
The knocking sound or other engine noise may be reduced with high-quality engine oil additives, however, unfortunately, no.
8. Is there a specific aftermarket oil additive for my car?
The type of engine, the type of vehicle, and the length of time you plan to drive the car should all be considered when choosing an oil additive.
9. Will adding an aftermarket oil additive void my warranty?
Oil additives with anti-corrosive properties may void your warranty. However, if you purchase a quality product, you should not have any problems.
10. Do diesel engines use a different oil additive than gasoline engines?
Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will tell you which additives it needs. Diesel engines use mineral oil instead of synthetic motor oils.
11. How do I know what type of oil additive to buy?
Check your vehicle’s service manual for details regarding what additive to use. If there isn’t one, ask your dealer or check the manufacturer’s name stamped on your oil filter.
12. Does standard oil include additives?
There are typically 15 percent additives in standard motor oils, which is adequate for regular operation. A high-performance or racing oil can contain more than 25 percent additives.
13. Can oil additives be used as fuel additives?
A fuel additive prevents carbon deposits from forming in the combustion chamber, while oil additives extend the life of the oil by preventing oxidation. The two products serve entirely different purposes.
14. What are oil detergent additives?
In order to prevent oil sludge on key components, detergent additives clean and neutralize impurities in the oil.
15. How can oil additives help in a high-mileage vehicle?
With oil additives, your engine lubricant will stay cleaner longer, extending its oil life, which means you’ll spend less money replacing your oil at intervals, and change oil less frequently.
16. Are oil additives suitable for new vehicles?
After the first few thousand miles, oil additives will begin to lose their effectiveness.
17. What are engine oil additives?
Engine oil additives are chemicals that are added to the oil to improve its performance and protect the engine. They can include detergents to clean the engine, anti-wear agents to reduce friction and wear, and viscosity improvers to help the oil flow better at different temperatures.
18. Are engine oil additives good or bad?
Engine oil additives can be both good and bad, depending on the type of additive and the specific application. Some additives, such as detergents, anti-wear agents, and viscosity improvers, can be beneficial and help to improve the performance and protect the engine. However, some additives, such as those that make false claims or that are not compatible with your engine can be harmful and can lead to damage and reduced performance.
19. How do I know if an engine oil additive is good or bad?
To determine if an engine oil additive is good or bad, you should check for any third-party certifications or approvals, as well as read reviews and testimonials from other customers. Additionally, you can consult with experts in the field and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
20. How often should I add engine oil additives?
The frequency of adding engine oil additives varies depending on the type of additive and the specific application. Some additives may need to be added with every oil change, while others can be added less frequently. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations and consult with experts in the field before adding an engine oil additive.
21. Can I use engine oil additives with synthetic or synthetic blend oils?
Some engine oil additives are compatible with synthetic and synthetic blend oils, but others may not be. It’s always recommended to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and consult with experts in the field before adding an engine oil additive to synthetic or synthetic blend oil.
Despite some people’s misconceptions about additives in motor oil, they prevent the engine from getting damaged and keep it running smoothly, thus prolonging its life. It is recommended by many manufacturers to use them in order to prevent premature motor wear.
When it comes to fuel additives, it is easier to determine whether they are working because we can always point to increased gas mileage or perceived improvements in power and driveability as evidence. The oil doesn’t work that way as the driver isn’t able to tell if the oil is affecting the vehicle’s performance in any way, either positive or negative, or if the oil additive you added is doing anything. It’s just a matter of being confident in your decision, regardless of how it turns out.
You don’t really need an oil additive to improve the lubrication of your oil because today’s high-performance oils handle that job quite well. You don’t actually need to add much to it. A good oil additive can increase the oil’s ability to perform these other important functions, such as keeping the engine surfaces clean and free from particulates, neutralizing acids, etc.
It is important to understand, however, that if you use one of these oil additives, you shouldn’t interpret it as an excuse to deviate from your engine’s oil change recommendations.
X-tra Lube is an oil additive, but people should still follow the recommendations of their engine manufacturer even if they use it. In other words, if you let an oil additive give you a false sense of security when it comes to changing your oil, it could be bad for your engine.
Are Engine Oil Additives Good or Bad for your engine? Not in the sense that it’s harmful to your engine. Especially with today’s higher-performing filters that filter out smaller and smaller particles, additives based on ceramics or other particulate bases may have a greater chance of plugging the oil filter.