What Is The Best Diesel Fuel Additive? (2020 Review Guide)
Diesel engines are more popular and common than ever. While they offer many benefits, they also require special care and maintenance. Fortunately, fuel additives are an easy way to keep your diesel engine running at peak engine performance.
But not every diesel additive is the same. Our complete guide will help you find the perfect formula for your vehicle’s fuel system. Ready to revitalize your car or truck’s fuel system today? Here’s everything you need to know about the best diesel fuel additive:
Quick Picks: The Top 3 Best Diesel Fuel Additive Brands
- Best Overall – Lucas Fuel Treatment
- Best Cheap Option – Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Fuel Additive
- Best Value for the Money – Stanadyne Performance Diesel Fuel
- Honorable Mention 1 – Biobor JF Diesel Fuel Biocide
- Honorable Mention 2 – Sta-Bil Diesel Fuel Stabilizer by DieselPower
- Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Diesel Fuel Additive
- Additive Type
- Vehicle Suitability
- Frequency of Use
- Environmental Friendliness
- Manufacturer Reputation
- Diesel Fuel Additive FAQ
- What are Diesel Fuel Additives?
- When Do I Add Fuel Additives?
- What are the Different Types of Fuel Additives?
- Fuel Injector Cleaners
- Cetane Boost
- Fuel Stabilizers
- What are the Benefits?
- Does Using a Diesel Fuel Additive Void My Vehicle’s Warranty?
- Do Fuel Additives Actually Do Anything?
- What are the Potential Downsides of Using Fuel Additives?
- A Final Thought
Best Overall – Lucas Fuel Treatment
A complete fuel treatment which cleans, lubricates, and protects all types of diesel fuel and gas engines.
- Features lubricants and cleaners
- Reduces fuel consumption
- Helps pass smog checks
- Reduces harmful fuel emissions
- Can potentially leave behind residue on spark plugs
This diesel additive from Lucas is our top choice for all-purpose engine health. It features a unique blend of slick oils and powerful detergents to help your engine operate at maximum capacity.
Regular use helps revitalize the carburetor, injectors, and other key components. It helps fuel burn more thoroughly and efficiently, which means you have to fill up far less often.
Additionally, adding a bottle of this additive can help your vehicle pass smog tests. It helps reduce harmful emissions, especially emissions caused by lead.
Finally, we like this additive’s versatility. You can add it to gasoline and diesel engines, both carburetor and fuel injected. If you own several vehicles, this additive is a cost-effective way to help them all stay in great shape.
Best Cheap Option – Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Fuel Additive
A powerful and affordable fuel additive designed for year-round use which keeps diesel engines clean while also preventing rust and corrosion.
- An all-purpose additive which cleans and protects
- Helps maintain engine health through all seasons
- Designed to be added frequently (even daily)
- Bottle leaks fairly easily
- Requires a few fuel cycles before benefits take hold
You don’t have to spend big to protect your car from corrosive buildup. Hot Shot’s Secret additive neutralizes acid, disperses moisture, removes rust, and cleans injectors. Plus, it boosts cetane by up to seven points, which improves engine power and fuel economy.
Use the additive year-round in all-weather conditions. It’s designed to be added with every fill-up. You can even add small amounts every morning to give your vehicle a daily boost. The formula is environmentally-friendly and complies with all federal low sulfur regulations.
Best Value for the Money – Stanadyne Performance Diesel Fuel
Stanadyne’s additive includes powerful cleansers and lubricity improvers to help bring new life to older, corroded and worn-down engines.
- Multipurpose formula cleans and revives
- Helps reduce start problems, engine noises, and emissions
- Improves fuel economy and reduces fuel consumption
- More effective at cleaning dirty engines than maintaining clean ones
Do you have a vehicle which isn’t driven often and needs help returning to the road? Stanadyne’s diesel fuel additive cleans corroded injectors, adds lubrication and reduces wear.
Does your car struggle to start? Adding this formula increases start consistency while reducing knocks and other engine noises.
Of course, your car doesn’t have to be in poor shape to benefit from this diesel additive. Regular use improves fuel economy by four percent while reducing total fuel consumption.
Overall, Stanadyne’s fuel additive is an excellent multi-purpose blend which is especially useful for older cars with dirty engines.
Honorable Mention 1 – Biobor JF Diesel Fuel Biocide
This all-in-one product from Hammonds both treats and prevents bacteria, corrosion, and blockage in watercraft, heavy machinery, and industrial equipment.
- Removes fungi, bacteria, and buildup
- Helps maintain optimal engine performance
- Unclogs fuel injectors and lines
- Benefits begin after two or three tanks
- Not ideal for wheeled vehicles
Instead of juggling a variety of additives, Hammonds’ diesel fuel biocide combines multiple benefits in one easy-to-use formula. Regular use helps kill bacteria, remove corrosion, and unclog injectors. Plus, the increased lubrication helps protect pumps and injectors for wear-and-tear damage.
It’s best for year-round use. Note that initial use can seem slow. You’ll likely have to add it to about three tanks of fuel before you’ll notice an improvement in performance. This is because removing fungus from the fuel system can be challenging. But once it’s gone, regular use of the Biobor formula keeps the engine free from buildup and grime.
Note this formula is designed for boats, industrial vehicles, and other vehicles which have frequent contact with water. It’s not an ideal choice for automobiles unless you specifically need to remove fungus buildup.
Honorable Mention 2 – Sta-Bil Diesel Fuel Stabilizer by DieselPower
A powerful, performance-enhancing fuel stabilizer which removes sludge, sediment, and water-based threats.
- Removes sludge and major engine buildup
- Helps prevent damage caused by oxidation
- Only requires one ounce per every 10 gallons of fuel
- Pours slowly
- The manufacturer offers no satisfaction guarantee
DieselPower’s Sta-Bil formula focuses on deep, thorough engine cleaning. Regular use helps remove sludge, sediment, corrosion, and water-based issues like fungus and algae.
It also helps reduce the effects of oxidation, which is a common problem in diesel fuel caused by thermal breakdown. Regular use of Sta-Bil helps improve total engine performance while preventing future problems.
It’s made for frequent use. The manufacturer recommends adding the formula at every fill-up. However, only one ounce is needed for every 10 gallons of fuel, making Sta-Bil a cost-effective option.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Diesel Fuel Additive
You’ll find a wide variety of additives available. Consider the following features:
Not all additives have the same purpose. Some additives treat problems while others focus more on prevention. Additives typically perform the following functions:
- Clean the engine
- Improve performance in extreme temperatures (such as cold temperatures)
- Boost fuel efficiency
- Protect the car after periods without use
You can also find plenty of multi-functional additives. For example, an additive might boosts fuel efficiency while also removing buildup. As long as the formula uses quality ingredients, a multi-formula can help you save because you only need to buy one type instead of several.
However, if you want to target a specific issue, you’re probably better off with an additive solely dedicated to fixing it. That gives you the largest volume of ingredients your engine needs.
Make sure the additive can be safely used in your vehicle’s fuel system. Most common and popular additives should work fine with standard diesel engines. However, always check your owner’s manual and the specifics on the additive’s bottle.
Aside from general use products, you can also find products made for specific types of fuel system, engines, or even types of cars (such as domestic or foreign).
Frequency of Use
Diesel additive is typically added to a near-empty tank. However, others should be added at more periodic intervals, such as during winter. You’ll want to consider how often you’ll need to buy the product.
A cleaner engine is less harmful to the environment than one clogged with debris. But while additives can be earth-friendly in that regard, they can also have a potentially negative effect on the environment.
Read the ingredient label carefully. You don’t want additives with harmful chemicals. Modern vehicles must comply with environmental regulations. Additive manufacturers do too, but the market’s a bit harder to control due to the sheer volume of products. You don’t want to add chemicals to your fuel tank which will harm the environment.
You’ll find no shortage of additives. Creating a low-quality additive isn’t particularly difficult, so don’t automatically assume all additives are worth your time and money. Instead, look for additives made by manufacturers with an established reputation for car care. Also, be wary about additives which don’t offer a satisfaction guarantee.
Diesel Fuel Additive FAQ
What are Diesel Fuel Additives?
Diesel fuel has a wide range of benefits, but it occasionally needs some help. The best diesel fuel additives add a variety of benefits. They help keep your engine clean, improve performance, prevent breakdown, and more.
When Do I Add Fuel Additives?
Most additives are added to as empty of a tank as possible. Doing so allows you to add the entire amount of additive as recommended by the manufacturer. Of course, always follow the specific instructions on the bottle.
Other additives are added seasonally. For example, many people use additives to help their car start easier in cold weather. In other situations, additives can be used to treat a specific issue, such as cleaning an engine which hasn’t been run recently.
What are the Different Types of Fuel Additives?
Not all additives are the same. Different formulas are made to treat or prevent specific issues. The following diesel fuel additives are the most common:
Fuel Injector Cleaners
Additives can remove deposits and buildup which clog your car’s injector nozzles. Keeping fuel injectors clean improves starting ability, acceleration, and overall engine performance, especially in cold weather.
Cleaning the injectors is emphasized because they frequently clog in diesel engines. However, you can also find additives which clean both injectors and other engine components. Multi-function cleaners are a good choice for preventing problems, while fuel injector cleaners are better for treating existing issues.
Cetane in diesel is roughly the same as the octane rating for gasoline. Cetane is a colorless gas which ignites easily at low temperatures. The cetane rating measures the fuel’s ability to burn or ignite.
Diesel engines inject super-hot air into the fuel. Improving the cetane ratio increases the engine’s efficiency and overall performance.
If your goal is to increase the cetane levels in the fuel, you’ll get the best results if you use an additive which only has that purpose. However, almost all additives increase cetane by at least some degree.
Fuel stabilizers are ideal for the fuel system of vehicles which aren’t driven often or haven’t been driven in a while. They help reduce starting issues and increase fuel efficiency, especially in cars which aren’t in tip-top condition.
Diesel fuel develops a common problem in cold weather. Paraffin wax often forms and clogs the fuel filter. A clogged filter impairs the vehicle’s ability to start.
Most diesel vehicles use heated filters and fuel to help combat wax and gel buildup. However, additives can add more targeted treatment. They’re usually useful for colder times of the year, especially for vehicles which remain outside at night.
What are the Benefits?
Fuel additives improve the efficiency of the engine burn. The power of each piston is maximized. When the engine operates at maximum efficiency, you can feel the increase in engine power when behind the wheel.
Plus, fuel additives help improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. An optimally-performing engine uses less fuel. Often, you’ll save more at the pump than you’ll spend on fuel additive, making it the economical choice.
Additionally, fuel additives can help increase the engine’s eco-friendliness. A clean engine produces fewer pollutants. However, certain additives can add toxins, so you want to make sure the formula is environmentally-friendly before adding it to your gas tank.
Finally, fuel additives help increase the lifespan of your car. They add lubrication throughout the fuel system, including the pump, fuel line, injectors, and other components. Lubrication helps protect from damage caused by friction and overheating.
Keep in mind all the benefits of diesel additives are easy to add to your vehicle’s fuel system. You simply pour the formula into your diesel tank according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Of course, pouring additive into a tank is far easier than dismantling your engine to clean it.
Does Using a Diesel Fuel Additive Void My Vehicle’s Warranty?
It’s a common concern but, fortunately, it’s just a myth. Using the best diesel fuel additive will not void your vehicle’s warranty.
How can we be so certain? Because voiding a vehicle warranty due to the use of any additive is actually a violation of federal law.
Back in the 60s and 70s, automotive warranties used to include a variety of restrictions for customers. For example, owners were only allowed to visit certain repair centers or use certain parts and additives. In many cases, these recommended components were only sold by the manufacturer.
Of course, this was all incredibly unfair to the consumer. In 1975, the Magnuson-Moss Act was created to help vehicle owners expand their options. It allows you to use products, including fuel additives, from any equipment manufacturer without voiding your warranty.
Keep in mind this doesn’t necessarily mean all products are safe to use. You still want only to use additives from trusted manufacturers.
Do Fuel Additives Actually Do Anything?
Fuel additives sometimes have a not-so-great reputation. Critics claim additives aren’t necessary or effective. However, most car care pros disagree.
Modern engines are more sophisticated than ever before. They can operate at maximum efficiency without extensive or frequent maintenance. But problems can still occur.
Diesel engines have an increased risk of developing fungus, mold, and similar water-based substances. Aside from general cleaning, many times the best diesel fuel additive specifically remove and prevent problems related to mold and fungus.
Plus, all engines experience dirt and grime build-up over time. Cleaning an engine can be done in one of two ways. You can take the engine apart and clean it by hand. Of course, that’s labor-intensive and requires a fair amount of mechanical know-how.
Fuel additives are the easiest way to keep your engine clean. All you need to do is pour the additive into your fuel tank. It’s a simple, mess-free procedure which takes less than a minute.
What are the Potential Downsides of Using Fuel Additives?
Fuel additives don’t have many potential downsides. In the worst-case scenario, low-quality additives simply don’t work. While an ineffective additive can be annoying, it’s unlikely to damage your vehicle.
Keep in mind most additives take two or three fuel cycles before benefits appear. You’re unlikely to see major benefits after adding just one bottle to your tank. But don’t stop using the additive. Plan on adding at least three bottles total before you’ll notice results.
Additionally, fuel additives can increase your maintenance costs, especially if you’re applying them year-round at every fill-up. However, additives are typically cost-effective in the long run. Regular use helps your engine operate with greater fuel efficiency.
When you use fuel additives, you won’t have to visit the gas station as often, which can help you save big. After all, gas prices fluctuate throughout the year, but large bottles of additives remain consistently affordable.
A Final Thought
Think of fuel additives like vitamins for your vehicle. Regular use not only helps treat existing issues but also helps prevent problems from developing. Just a small amount of a quality additive improves engine performance, reduces engine wear, and helps your car stay in great shape.