What Are The Best Oil Additives? (Guide) – 2020 Reviews
Motor oil is the lifeblood of any vehicle. But sometimes it needs a bit of a boost. Motor oil additives augment the motor oil in your vehicle by increasing viscosity, decreasing engine temperatures, and performing other useful functions.
Many different types of oil additives are available. Fortunately, finding the right oil additive is easy and smooth with our complete buyer’s guide.
Quick Picks: The Top 3 Best Oil Additives on the Market in 2020
- Best Overall – Oil Stabilizer by Lucas Oil
- Best Cheap Option – STP Oil Treatment
- Best Value for the Money – TriboTEX Nano Oil Additive
- Honorable Mention – Archoil AR9100 Oil Additive
- Honorable Mention – Marvel Mystery Oil
- Honorable Mention – Liqui Moly 2009 Anti Friction Oil Treatment
- Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Oil Additives
- Manufacturer’s Reputation
- Frequently Asked Questions about Oil Additives
- What are Oil Additives?
- How Do Oil Additives Work?
- Are Oil Additives Different than Fuel Additives?
- What Ingredients Do Additives Contain?
- What Oil Additives are Compatible with My Vehicle’s Engine?
- How Often Should Oil Additives Be Used?
- What are the Different Types of Oil Additives?
- Anti-Wear Agents
- Friction Modifiers
- What are the Benefits of Additives?
- Extends Engine Life (Especially for Older Engines)
- Increases Fuel Economy
- Keeps the Engine Clean
- Are Oil Additives Safe?
- Are Oil Additives Necessary?
- Final Thoughts
Best Overall – Oil Stabilizer by Lucas Oil
A multi-purpose oil supplement which reduces noise and friction in engines of practically any type and condition.
- 100% petroleum product
- Safe for all types of engines
- Can be used with other additives
- Provides a wide variety of engine benefits
- Can increase oil pressure
Lucas Oil’s Stabilizer is a 100% petroleum product which reduces friction, heat, and wear. It’s a versatile additive which can be used to help protect new engines from damage and bring old engines back to life. Plus, it can safely be used with other additives, including synthetics, ATF, and mineral oil.
Regular use helps increase the life of your car’s motor oil by up to 50%. It also helps to eliminate dry starts, stop leaks, and reduce total oil consumption.
It’s the best overall because it provides well-rounded benefits and can safely be added to any type of engine. Plus, you can use it along with other additives.
Best Cheap Option – STP Oil Treatment
An inexpensive and easy way to reduce friction and oil burning while increasing overall engine lubrication.
- Affordable additive with multiple benefits
- Increases oil viscosity
- Reduces metal on metal contact in the engine
- Pours slowly
Boost the power of your motor oil without breaking the bank. STP’s oil treatment is a high-viscosity formula safe for use with both synthetic and conventional motor oil. Optimized for four-stroke engines, it can be used for cars, trucks, and SUVs.
The unique STP formula contains zinc anti-wear agent ZDDP. Regular use creates a thick, protective cushion which reduces metal-to-metal friction. It reduces oil burning while helping engine components stay in great shape.
Best Value for the Money – TriboTEX Nano Oil Additive
This unique additive helps reverse wear and motor noise while increasing overall engine life.
- Unique carbon coating protects components
- Improves gas mileage
- Decreases engine noises
- Relatively high price
- Benefits begin after 500 miles
There’s nothing quite like this additive from TriboTEX. Developed with funding from NASA and the Department of Energy, it’s a blend of synthetic nanoparticles which can be used in both gas or diesel engines.
Plus, the formula creates a diamond-like carbon coating which reverses bearing wear. Your vehicle’s engine will run smoother and quieter. Fuel consumption decreases, too.
TriboTAX has a relatively high price tag, but they do offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Overall, the unique ceramic coating created by the formula keeps engines running efficiently and quietly.
Honorable Mention – Archoil AR9100 Oil Additive
A multipurpose additive, suitable for gas and diesel engines, which reduces engine wear, noise, vibration, and heat.
- Reduces engine wear and noise
- Removes sludge, grime, and deposits
- Safe for both diesel and gas engines
- More effective at preventing problems than removing build-up
Archoil’s additive helps your motor oil form a solid boundary lubricating film which both protects and enhances. It reduces friction to keep your engine running cooler, quieter and smoother.
Regular use also helps keep your engine clean. The unique formula removes a variety of build-up including sludge, varnish and carbon deposits.
It’s suitable for just about any type of diesel or gas engine, including Cummins, Duramax, and Power Stroke. Specifically, it fixes cold start injector issues on 6.0 and 7.3L PowerStrike engines.
Honorable Mention – Marvel Mystery Oil
A popular oil additive which helps reduce sludge buildup while also reducing engine wear and tear.
- Trusted manufacturer with an almost 100-year history
- Removes heavy buildup
- Keeps engine lubricated and friction-free
- More effective at prevention than cleaning
Don’t let sludge slow your engine down. Marvel’s Mystery Oil additive helps remove build-up from your engine and fuel systems. It also helps keep your engine lubricated.
Marvel Mystery Oil was first developed in Chicago in 1923. It’s been used to maintain engines throughout WWII including those found in airplanes, battleships, and tanks. Today, their additive is used in cars, trucks, and SUVs of any age.
Honorable Mention – Liqui Moly 2009 Anti Friction Oil Treatment
Liqui Moly provides quite a few products to help keep your engine happy, but their anti-friction oil additive is on a new level. It’s affordable, and an excellent choice for those of you with older engines who need to ensure things continue to run smoothly.
- Highly affordable without sacrificing performance
- Excellent for Prius engines and other moly coated cylinders
- Can help reduce engine noise in older engines
- Does nothing for debris or other contaminants
- May not work as well as additives with tungsten disulfide
Liqui Moly’s additive isn’t quite as graphite dense as other products on the market, giving an edge for tolerating higher temperatures, and a high concentration of molybdenum helps form a barrier around engine parts to ensure less friction.
It doesn’t contain tungsten disulfide, which can add expense to additives, but Liqui Moly’s formula comes close to those elite options while remaining highly affordable. Liqui Moly’s production is quick, so most of the cans you see on shelves are newer, preserving potency and ensuring better performance.
These work great on vehicles with moly coats on the cylinders, like the Prius, for example. As oil runs through the system, the oil layer doesn’t maintain quite as well as other types of engines. Ensuring you have an additive can help correct that situation and keep your Prius running more smoothly.
The additive doesn’t do anything to reduce contaminants, so it could create an extra step if you need to handle debris regularly. However, for mild environments, it’s an excellent option.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Oil Additives
Not all oil additives do the same thing. Many change oil viscosity. However, other additives are specifically designed to remove rust, corrosion, and grime. Still other additives reduce engine noise. Before buying an additive, identify the engine problem you want to solve or prevent.
The amount of additive needed is usually a proportion based on the amount of motor oil. Larger trucks and SUVs might require a larger quantity of additive than a smaller car.
However, never use more than the recommended quantity of oil additive. As we’ll detail later on, too much oil additive can harm your vehicle.
Many of the same basic ingredients are found in a wide range of oil additives, such as petroleum, phosphorous, and zinc. The biggest difference in quality between brands is typically refinement and processing.
Only use additives from brands you trust. Also, the intended purpose of the additive should be clearly explained. Avoid additives which promise anything vague such as “improved engine performance.” Instead, the manufacturer should provide information about what each ingredient does.
Frequently Asked Questions about Oil Additives
What are Oil Additives?
Motor oil keeps your car running smoothly, but it can’t do everything on its own. Oil additives act as a performance booster for your motor oil. They’re added directly to your vehicle’s oil reservoir.
Think of oil additives like vitamins for your car. There’s no one type of additive. Instead, a variety of additives are available – each with different benefits. Oil additives are most commonly used for the following:
- Improving the viscosity index
- Decreasing metal-on-metal friction
- Inhibiting rust and corrosion
- Cleaning engine components
Motor oil is more advanced than ever. But it still needs help in certain situations. Even though the additives perform similar functions as the oil, they have an augmented effect when used together.
How Do Oil Additives Work?
In order to understand how additives work, let’s first take a closer look at what motor oil does. Also referred to as engine oil, motor oil is vital to the operation of your vehicle. It has two primary purposes:
- Minimize friction
- Prevent corrosion
Most additives are viscosity index improvers. Viscosity is the measurement of a fluid’s ability to resist deformation caused by stress. Or, in simpler terms, viscosity is a fluid’s thickness.
Oil’s viscosity affects its ability to flow through the engine and coat all the parts along the way. If the viscosity is too high, the oil won’t flow evenly. Instead, it can gum up and slow down major engine components.
However, viscosity can’t be too low, either. Low viscosity thins the oil. If the oil is too thin, it’ll move through the engine too quickly. It won’t coat the components well enough to prevent friction damage.
Viscosity can be dramatically affected by both internal and external temperatures. For example, viscosity can change due to an outdoor event like a snowstorm or internal issue such as an overheating engine block.
Are Oil Additives Different than Fuel Additives?
Yes! Fuel additives go into your car’s gas tank while oil additives combine with your motor oil. Fuel additives are typically used to:
- Help regain fuel efficacy after periods without driving
- Boost the fuel’s octane rating
- Keep fuel injectors clean
- Unclog diesel fuel filters
You never want to pour an oil additive into your gas tank (or vice versa). However, it’s usually no problem to use fuel additives and oil additives in the same vehicle, as long as you use them properly.
What Ingredients Do Additives Contain?
Ingredients vary by the type of additive, although a few ingredients are fairly common overall. Most additives contain zinc, a mineral which acts as an overall performance booster. Phosphorous is also often found in oil additives. It adds a protective layer which helps reduce damage due to metal on metal contact.
What Oil Additives are Compatible with My Vehicle’s Engine?
You can add oil additives to most vehicles without a problem. Also, the vast majority of additives can be safely added to both standard and synthetic motor oil.
However, you’ll always want to check two sources before adding oil additives:
- Your vehicle’s owner’s manual
- Information from the manufacturer of the motor oil in your vehicle
You’re not necessarily searching for specific brand names you can or cannot use. Instead, you’re looking for info on the oil viscosity required for your vehicle. If the additive raises or lowers the viscosity too much, you’ll likely see a check engine light.
How Often Should Oil Additives Be Used?
Generally, additives should be used every time you change your motor oil. In many cases, the car needs to travel around 500 miles before the additives take effect.
What are the Different Types of Oil Additives?
You’ll find additives which perform just one function and others which combine several benefits together into one compound. The most popular type of additive include the following:
As we’ve mentioned earlier, most additives relate to viscosity. Aside from general purpose driving, additives are useful in maintaining the oil’s viscosity when driving in extremely hot or cold conditions.
Many engine components are susceptible to damage from high temperatures. Certain additives help reduce friction and heat caused by metal-to-metal contact. These anti-wear agents create a protective layer on the cylinder walls, piston rings, lifters, cams, and other components.
Sludge and acid can form in motor oil over time. Dispersants help prevent their formation by absorbing and holding any solid contaminants. Particles in the oil are isolated by the dispersant instead of building up into larger solids.
Just like any other type of detergent, the ones found in additives help keep your engine clean. They prevent rust, corrosion, and other deposits from forming. Detergents mainly target piston-related areas, including the ring and under-crown.
ZDDP stands for zinc dialkyl-dithiophosphate. It’s an anti-wear compound made from zinc and phosphorus.
However, ZDDP shouldn’t be used in every vehicle. Most modern oils avoid ZDDP because it can damage the catalyst in the vehicle’s converter. But if your vehicle is older, with a flat-tappet camshaft or high spring pressure, ZDDP is needed. It provides lubrication to cam lobes and other engine components. Check the owner’s manual for specifics.
Friction modifiers help lower engine friction. They’re especially useful for vehicles which haul heavy loads or routinely operate in high temperatures.
Look for additives which contain graphite or molybdenum. Note that friction modifiers only work for a limited time before they wear away. Specifics will vary based on where and how often you drive. Consult the instructions to determine when you’ll need to add more of the additive.
What are the Benefits of Additives?
Benefits vary depending on the type of additive used. Common reasons to use an oil additive include:
Extends Engine Life (Especially for Older Engines)
Additives often have special benefits for older engines. They help remove built-up grime, rust, and corrosion.
Modern engines are complex. They often need precisely-blended oil to run at optimum conditions. Additives must be added carefully to avoid affecting the engine performance. Older engines are far simpler. They typically respond better to additives than modern engines.
Always check the instructions on the additive to make sure it’s suitable for the age of your engine. Most additives work on all engines. However, you might want an additive specifically for older engines if you’re working on a classic car which hasn’t been driven in a while.
Increases Fuel Economy
Lack of proper lubrication increase friction throughout your engine. Friction adds stress to practically every engine component. A stressed engine has to work harder than a normal one. The increased strain on the engine requires extra gasoline, which harms your gas mileage. Motor oil additives which reduce friction can directly lead to improved fuel economy.
Keeps the Engine Clean
Detergents, rust inhibitors, and other oil additives help to keep your engine clean. Build-up slows your engine, increases fuel consumption, and can eventually lead to serious vehicle damage.
Engines are dirty places with lots of dirt and grime. But you can keep them clean (at least, performance-wise) with regular use of motor oil and oil additives. Ideally, you can prevent problems from ever developing.
However, additives are especially useful when you need to clean a vehicle which hasn’t been driven in a while. Your regular motor oil should maintain a clean engine, but additives are the best option for tackling debris which has built up over time.
Are Oil Additives Safe?
Oil additives are safe as long as you follow the specific use instructions. Be careful not to add too much. Only add the specified amount per every oil change. An excess of additive can change the chemical composition of the oil.
If your oil becomes too thin, it won’t protect your engine from wear and tear. If it’s too thick, it can clog pistons and other components.
A typical bottle of additive increases the volume of your motor oil by five percent. While that might not sound like much, it’s enough to improve engine performance. Never add a second bottle or any extra amount to your oil reservoir.
Are Oil Additives Necessary?
Strictly speaking, not every vehicle needs oil additives. For example, if you recently bought a brand-new vehicle, using the recommended type of motor oil should keep your vehicle in great shape for years.
Oil additives are often most effective if your car has unique needs. As mentioned above, older cars often benefit from additives which help remove rust and dirt. They’re also helpful in maintaining effective engine performance when driving in climates with extreme hot or cold temperatures.
When used properly, additives won’t hurt your vehicle. Many people prefer using additives to prevent problems. While that’s an effective way to use oil additives, keep in mind a lack of problems isn’t a sign the additives aren’t working.
Many people try out an oil additive only to assume it’s not working because there are no obvious improvements to the engine. If the engine is already in top shape, additives will mainly prevent issues from developing – so there might not be any improvements to notice.
Give your motor oil a powerful assistant. Oil additives can help boost engine performance, remove grime, and prevent component breakdown. Plus, they’re simple to select and use. Just a small bottle of oil additive can make a big difference in how your car handles today and into the future.