Fuel Additives Work Great But Know Their Limits
Mark Nyholm | TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGER, HEAVY DUTY
All things equal, everyone wants better fuel economy. If your truck gets 18 mpg, you’d be happier with 20 mpg, right? Many factors affect fuel economy. While it’s true that a modified, high- displacement V-8 is much thirstier than a tiny four-banger, your right foot and driving style contribute heavily to your mpg, or lack thereof. Did I mention tire pressure? The EPA says fuel economy can drop 0.2 percent for every 1 psi a tire is under-inflated. That may not sound like much, but it compounds, quickly if all your tires are down 10 psi or so, which isn’t a stretch.
Have you ever heard that lubricant viscosity can affect mpg? Every good AMSOIL Dealer knows that higher-viscosity lubricants require more energy to circulate than lower- viscosity lubricants. If you’re using a 140-weight gear lube in the rear end and it’s thickened due to cold weather, the engine is going to waste some fuel overcoming the increased fluid friction. It’s for the same reason that master engine builders who want to make insane power use low-viscosity fluids. Does that decision consider engine durability? No, just the quick power rip.
These are just a few variables that affect fuel economy, but we’ll end with towing and hauling. Most drivers understand that pulling a camper or hauling a load of gravel reduces fuel economy. But did you know that a roof rack has the same effect? In fact, a study published in the journal Energy Policy found that some roof racks loaded with supplies can reduce fuel economy as much as 25 percent. Aerodynamics are heavily weighed when vehicle manufacturers design body panels. It’s why an F-16 can do well over Mach 1 while a ranch house can blow down in a 70-mph wind.
The desire to spend less on fuel has spawned dozens of fuel additives that promise increased fuel economy, among other benefits. We offer a full line of diesel fuel additives, in addition to AMSOIL P.I® for gasoline engines and AMSOIL Ouickshot® for powersports and small engines.
As great as our fuel additives perform, however, they can’t compensate for strapping a pair of fat-tire bikes on your roof and pulling a camper on under-inflated tires. Where they do make a difference is inside the engine and fuel system.
The need to improve fuel economy and horsepower has driven several automotive innovations over the past couple decades. The increased use of direct fuel injection is one of them. In traditional port-fuel-injected engines, the fuel injectors spray fuel into a common rail where it mixes with air before entering the combustion chamber. While this configuration boosts efficiency compared to the carburetors it replaced, it’s not as efficient as directly injecting fuel into the combustion chamber. Although direct-injection has only recently entered the gasoline realm, we diesel burners have used the technology for decades. This arrangement allows more precise delivery of the fuel, which increases fuel economy.
The downside, however, is the injector is exposed to the full onslaught of heat during the combustion event.
This extreme heat can bake deposits onto the injector tips. Since modern injectors are finely engineered with tight tolerances, even minute deposits can interfere with the injector’s spray pattern, particularly in modern high-pressure common-rail (HPCR) injectors found in today’s turbo-diesel pickups. Rather than emitting a fine mist of fuel that thoroughly combusts, the injector can emit a stream of fuel that doesn’t burn as readily, reducing fuel economy.
Deposits can also form on the piston crown and the valves, negatively affecting engine operation. This can lead to pre-ignition if bad enough, which can damage the engine.
Here’s where our additives make a difference. As performance concentrates, they contain a concentrated dose of cleaning agents that remove deposits from injectors and from within the combustion chamber. In older engines with accumulated deposits, they loosen and dissolve deposits, helping restore fuel economy to what your vehicle may have once provided. In newer vehicles that haven’t had time for deposits to build up, they maintain fuel-system and engine cleanliness to help you get the maximum fuel economy for your engine. Not only that, but our additives are formulated to deliver all sorts of other great benefits. Diesel Cetane Boost, for example, helps improve startability, reduce smoke and increase power by raising the cetane of diesel up to seven points. Diesel Cold Flow reduces the cold filter-plugging point of diesel up to 40°F (22°C) to prevent gelling in cold weather. Our Diesel Ail-In-One provides all these benefits in one convenient package.
While no fuel additive can increase fuel economy beyond the engine’s technical capabilities, our additives do a great job ensuring your vehicle consistently produces maximum mpg and save you money.
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The above article is taken from the June 2018 edition of the AMSOIL Dealer Magazine.