The 5 Best Diesel Fuel Additives of 2018

Nov 8, 2018 | Maintenance, Reviews

Diesel fuel additives are a somewhat controversial topic. Which diesel fuel additives you should use, and whether those additives are even necessary are questions that are often asked. However, there is no denying that in this day and age, diesel fuel additives are a must. They help with fuel economy, increased horsepower, and are more green for the environment.

Choosing the right diesel fuel additive for your vehicle isn’t always straightforward. Diesel fuel additives don’t have any specifications you can look at, and often there are different types for various functions.

Below, we will explain why diesel fuel additives are important and list a few of our recommendations.

Top 5 Diesel Fuel Additives

NameQuantityTotal Treatment 

Stanadyne

8 oz

720 gallons

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Power Service

32 oz

1,200 gallons

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Lucas Oil

128 oz

400 gallons

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Liqui Moly

300 ml

30 gallons

Check Price

Howes

64 oz

320 gallons

Check Price

Stanadyne

Quantity

8 oz

Total Treatment

720 gallons

Check Price

Power Service

Quantity

32 oz

Total Treatment

1,200 gallons

Check Price

Lucas Oil

Quantity

128 oz

Total Treatment

400 gallons

Check Price

Liqui Moly

Quantity

300 ml

Total Treatment

30 gallons

Check Price

Howes

Quantity

64 oz

Total Treatment

320 gallons

Check Price

1. Best Overall

Performance Formula One Shot

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I have to admit, I wasn’t always a big fan of Stanadyne products. It’s not that they weren’t any good. They have always worked respectably well. But, for whatever reason, Stanadyne never got the design of their containers right. Poor bottle design can affect a product’s functionality. I remember the lousy plastic bottles that Stanadyne diesel fuel additives used to come in. They were drippy, hard to reseal and all-around frustrating.

Thankfully, Stanadyne has turned things around with the Performance Formula One Shot. While the new bottle isn’t perfect, it’s a major improvement over the lousy old design. I’m happy to report that Stanadyne continues to produce quality diesel fuel additives. The Performance Formula One Shot is meant to be used year-round, with a solid performance in both hot and cold weather. It can also reduce fuel consumption, restore or increase horsepower, improve the cetane rating of your fuel, and it offers a host of other benefits, too.

Stanadyne sells the Performance Formula One Shot in cases of 24 bottles. Each bottle can treat up to 30 gallons of diesel fuel. While the Performance Formula One Shot isn’t the most affordable diesel fuel additive on the market, the benefits justify the costs.

Pros and cons

  • Restores injector and injection pump lubricity
  • Improves throttle response
  • Results in a quieter engine
  • Increases horsepower
  • Not the most affordable additive on the market

2. Best Value

Power Service Cetane Boost Fuel Additive

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It wasn’t easy choosing between this and our No. 1 pick. Sadly, the Power Service diesel fuel additive only came in second. But don’t be fooled, there is a lot to like about this product. It may even be the one for you if you’re on a budget.

Once again, Power Service has come out with the most affordable diesel fuel additive on the market. Sold in cases of twelve 32 oz bottles, what you have here is a true bargain. A case is likely to last you for well over a year. There isn’t a better deal you can find for additives.

Performance-wise, we’re happy to report that this diesel fuel additive by Power Service delivers in every way you would expect it to. If you’re looking to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy, keep your injectors clean and your diesel fuel well-lubricated.

It also provides a significant cetane boost. If you drive a European car and use US diesel, that cetane boost may even be necessary for your vehicle to run well. Power Service truly outdid themselves with this product.

Pros and cons

  • Improves your vehicle’s fuel economy
  • Lubricates your vehicle’s fuel
  • Does a fantastic job at cleaning the injectors and stops them from sticking
  • Boosts the cetane rating of your fuel
  • Offers no significant mileage improvement

3. Best in Bulk

Lucas Oil Fuel Treatment

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While it isn’t the most affordable option on the market, the Lucas Oil Fuel Treatment still delivers on most of its promises. Lucas Oil will improve your vehicle’s mileage, clean and lubricate your vehicle’s fuel system and increase its longevity by ensuring that your injection pump and injectors are kept clean.

As a result, you won’t have to worry about replacing your injectors anytime soon. That can save you a lot of trouble and money down the road, which is enough to justify the price tag.

Lucas also claims that its diesel fuel additive will improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and mileage. However, this can vary based on the driver. If you drive on the highway/freeway a lot, you may notice more of an improvement to your fuel economy.

Pros and cons

  • Keeps your fuel pump and injectors clean
  • Improves your vehicle’s fuel economy, but only slightly
  • Does a great job of lubricating your vehicle’s fuel
  • Not as affordable as some of its competitors

4. Best on a Budget

Liqui Moly Super Diesel Additive

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Liqui Moly’s Super Diesel Additive does most of what it promises to do. It’s fairly affordable and outperforms its low price tag. For that, Liqui Moly definitely deserves praise. It isn’t the first product we’d recommend, but if you’re on a tight budget, this additive may just do the trick for you.

This additive will lubricate your vehicle’s diesel fuel (and by extension, your vehicle’s fuel pump) like very few others. US diesel tends to be plagued by a lack of lubricity, which can seriously affect the longevity of your fuel system. However, Liqui Moly’s additive is able to make up for that.

Sadly, you probably won’t notice a lot of improvement to your vehicle’s horsepower or mileage. But for protecting your vehicle’s most important components, this additive works better than expected. Liqui Moly has done a great job with this product.

Pros and cons

  • Lubricates your vehicle’s fuel
  • Protects your vehicle’s fuel pump and other important components
  • Fairly affordable
  • No advertised benefits like increased horsepower or fuel economy

5. Best for Gelling Prevention

Howes Diesel Conditioner

Our Rating

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If you live in an area where the weather is especially cold, this diesel fuel conditioner and anti-gel mixture from Howes can save your car’s engine.

Fuel gelling is a common problem that diesel owners have to deal with. If harsh weather conditions are a common occurrence where you live, fuel gelling can seriously impact your ability to drive, especially in the winter and fall. Needless to say, with how many of us commute to work, gelled fuel can severely impact your livelihood as well.

Thankfully, Howes offers an affordable solution that is safe and effective in all diesel and biodiesel blends up to B-21, customers have so far reported zero problems with gelled fuel in the winter while using this product.

Pros and cons

  • Incredibly effective at keeping your fuel from gelling in cold weather
  • Increases your fuel system’s overall longevity
  • Reasonable pricing
  • None reported. Does what it’s supposed to. No gimmicks here.

What are Diesel Additives?

Diesel fuel additives are various chemicals that can be added to diesel fuel. These chemicals can have a variety of functions. In general, additives are meant to increase the lubricity of fuel, prevent it from “gelling” in harsh, cold weather, and to keep various vehicle components clean.

What diesel fuel additives are most useful for is lubricating your vehicle’s fuel, preventing gelled fuel, cleaning injectors and other components and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Added horsepower, improved mileage or fuel economy are bonuses, but not what diesel fuel additives are generally meant for.

The benefits of diesel fuel additives vary from product to product. Many manufacturers claim that their additives can increase your vehicle’s horsepower and improve your mileage and fuel economy. With that said, these claims don’t always come to fruition.

Diesel fuel additives are sometimes meant for specific vehicles. For example, nitromethane-based diesel fuels are typically meant to be used in race cars. However, most aftermarket diesel fuel additives are meant for average cars.

Why are Fuel Conditioners Necessary

Diesel fuel additives weren’t as common or necessary in the past. But, the fact of the matter is, they’re absolutely necessary for this day and age. The reason for that is, in short, fuel today just isn’t what it used to be.

Nowadays, fuel refiners are under a lot of pressure to reduce sulfur content in order to meet new emissions-control standards. While that’s meant to help protect the environment, a side-effect is that the quality of distillate fuels today is notably lower. Fuels have more undesirable elements and aren’t as stable.

One way in which diesel fuels today suffer because of this is lubricity. As mentioned above, refiners are under a lot of pressure to lower sulfur content. The most cost-effective way of removing sulfur is through hydroprocessing, a process in which sulfur is removed and replaced with hydrogen. A side-effect of this process, however, is that the hydrogen tends to react with and remove the compounds that provide diesel fuel with adequate lubricity.

Because your vehicle’s fuel system partly relies on diesel fuel to stay lubricated, a lack of lubricity can lead to severe damage over time. Namely, it can result in wear and scarring between unlubricated metal parts, shortening the life of vital components. That’s why one of the uses of aftermarket diesel fuel additives is to keep your vehicle’s fuel lubricated, thus making up for its lack of natural lubricity.

Another important reason for using additives is to prevent “fuel gelling.” Diesel fuel has what is called a “gel point.” The gel point of diesel fuel is the temperature at which diesel or biodiesel will freeze. Once frozen, it can no longer be pumped through your vehicle’s fuel lines. Anti-gel additives are thus often used to prevent fuel gelling. They accomplish this by stopping paraffin wax crystals from forming.

Lastly, diesel fuel additives can reduce your vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions. Diesel-powered vehicles are widely known for the negative effect they have on the environment. Additives can help alleviate that, to a degree.

Conclusion

Sadly, choosing which diesel fuel additive to buy isn’t always straightforward. However, we hope you’ve realized just how important diesel fuel additives are. With a bit of trial and error, you should be able to find the product that works best for your vehicle.

Richard Reed

Writer for TheVehicleLab.com

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