We have all heard the slogans about pouring something into your tank and driving your engine clean. I’m not a big fan of these claims. In fact, I’m not a supporter of most automotive snake oil products. Sometimes I’m under the impression there might be a placebo effect when you see the scores of positive reviews for these auto repairs in a bottle additives. With that said, there are chemical formulations that when added to the gas tank can improve specific problems. Here we’ll talk about three miracle fluids that you can put in your gas tank that I have personally found useful.
Liquid Gasoline Octane Booster Additives
The first additive were going to review is a liquid gasoline octane booster. Before we get into the specific product and the dosage let’s talk about why these additives are relevant on modern automobiles. Octane is a rating of the fuel’s ability not to burn. If the gas ignited too soon it would be unpredictable and could damage the engine. This pre-detonation of fuel can create pockets of extreme heat that can damage the aluminum cylinder heads now installed on most engines.
The higher the octane rating the more we can compress the fuel before it ignites. This means we’re getting the most power from our air fuel mixture. The standard compression ratio of an engine a decade ago came in around 8.5:1. The 3.6 L V-6 Chevrolet engine installed in this year’s lineup comes in at a whopping 11.5:1. With this engines high compression ratio and all aluminum construction using fuel with the recommended octane rating is critical. You can find this specification in your owner’s manual.
Note that most automobiles from compact through midsize are designed to run on 87 octane regular grade fuel. Many luxury cars squeeze more power out of their engine by raising the compression ratio and therefore require premium fuel with a 92 octane rating. Now we finally get into the liquid gasoline octane booster products. If you own one of these luxury cars that requires the most expensive fuel adding 12 ounces of octane booster to a full 20 gallon tank of gasoline once a month can assure your tank doesn’t fall below this minimum grade.
Although most gas stations are reliable and deliver the premium grade fuel you pay for, you might run into isolated situations where this is not true. When you are running a tank of low grade fuel, you might hear some engine pinging or valve train clatter. This would be the perfect time to head to your auto parts store and pick up a can of your favorite brand liquid gasoline octane booster.
Adding a Fuel System Stabilizer to the Gas Tank
Adding a fuel system stabilizer to the gas tank is not the right thing to do for everybody. In fact, most people have no need to pour this stuff into their automotive fuel tank. Fuel system stabilizer is for vehicles that sit for a few months or even a few years before it runs through a complete tank of gas. Even if your vehicle doesn’t get much use, let’s say it takes you two months to run through a full tank, you still don’t need a fuel stabilizer.
The reason is, a regular grade fuel will last for about three months all by itself. Unfortunately, as we hit the three month mark the gasoline starts to separate and degrade. They designed the fuel system stabilizer to bond with the fuel molecules and hold them all together. And surprisingly, it works very well. I have several military friends that went on two-year deployments and when they came back, their car required no work to the fuel system.
They even ran the old tank that sat for two years through the car with no troubles. Another area fuel stabilizers work fantastic in is recreational and lawn equipment. Even though we have the best of intentions to use these motor driven vehicles often it doesn’t always turn out that way. A Jet Ski or an all-terrain vehicle can wind up sitting for more than a year before we even realize it.
This is why you should fill these types of recreational craft with an ethanol free gas and then add the recommended amount of a fuel system stabilizer of your choice. Note that you don’t want to over treat a single gallon of fuel. The stabilizer can actually make the engine hard to start if the concentration is too heavy. You also get the biggest bang for your buck if you mix the stabilizer product with fresh gasoline. This additive cannot turn back the hands of time for a load of degraded fuel.
How a Dry Gas Chemical Additive Works
Getting water inside of the fuel tank is almost impossible to avoid. A lot of people believe that it’s the gas station’s fault when water winds up inside the fuel. Although this might be the case in some isolated instances, most of the water occurs from condensation on the walls of the fuel tank in the automobile. When the tank is near empty there’s a lot of surface area that will go through temperature changes and droplets of moisture will form. When you fill up you incorporate this moisture into that load of gasoline.
This is not a problem for most engines and consumers can burn that tank of fuel with little or no noticeable problems. In fact it’s not until we hit sub freezing temperatures that we actually find out we might have water in our fuel. Since gasoline is petroleum product it floats on top of the water and it doesn’t mix. If we’re unlucky and wind up with a section of water in a fuel line when we turn off the engine this area can freeze and restrict the flow to the fuel injectors. This is when you get a no start condition from a frozen fuel line.
Dry gas or a water removing fuel system additive is a methanol or isopropyl alcohol based product. It physically binds the moisture molecules to the alcohol additive. This combination can mix with the petroleum molecules and acts as an antifreeze for any water in the system. This reduces the chances of having a pocket of water freeze and restrict the fuel system. The dry gas also promotes the complete burning of the moisture in the combustion chamber.
There are limits to what this product can do despite its being extremely effective in most situations. As an example, if someone pours a gallon of water into your fuel tank a 12 ounce bottle of dry gas is not going to help you. In that vandalism type situation you would have to remove the fuel and refill the tank with fresh gas. Under normal conditions with moisture buildup due to standard condensation a 12 ounce bottle of dry gas will treat up to 20 gallons of gas.