Fuel additives: Does your modern 4WD need them?

These days, fuel additives are available in all brands and sizes, for any number of applications.

In the past, there was only Redex, or for those whose memory is still partially intact, you were encouraged to put your car on 'the Pill'. As you filled up from a bowser on the kerbside, you popped a couple of pills into the tank to do goodness knows what, relying only on what the garage proprietor advised.

Times are different now, however. Vehicles, fuel and driving requirements having changed dramatically over the years and the high-tech vehicles we drive now are (if you listen to the sales people), far superior, quieter, more economical etc etc.

For all of their improvements, modern vehicles require to be serviced, driven and cared for differently from those old vehicles. Fuel and oils are critical, filtration has changed and overhauls can be prohibitively expensive, so any product that may help in the reduction of maintenance costs is of interest.

In addition to improving fuel economy and lowering exhaust emissions, aftermarket additives claim to reduce problems caused by different driving styles, fuel quality or LPG operation.

Fuel additives range from octane improvers, Valve Seat Recession prevention, emission improvers, Cetane boosters, sulphur replacement fuel system cleaners, common rail diesel fuel conditioners, lead replacers and both diesel and petrol injector cleaners.

These days, additives are subject to stringent and expensive testing for safe usage, efficiency, suitability for the stated purpose, compatibility to operate with sensors and diesel particular filters, and I'm sure that all manufacturers can back up performance claims with stacks of figures.

Read the label, ask questions, and if the results can be observed or measured, conduct tests to compare products. You can also write to companies requesting testimonials or talk to long-term users for their thoughts.

Additives that appear to be necessary for today's vehicles would include a dedicated common-rail fuel additive (continuous use), an intermittent use injector cleaner, a 'valve saver' product to work with LP gas powered vehicles and a sulphur replacement product.

Field reports show that as a minimum, the above list of products, when used with correct servicing and driving practices, will go a long way toward ensuring a fuel-efficient, low-pollution vehicle with far less possibility of premature costly repairs.

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