Do Oil Additives Really Boost Horsepower?

If you’re looking to improve the performance of your vehicle’s engine oil, you may want to consider oil additives. These additives are specifically designed to help increase your car’s engine life expectancy and increase its horsepower while at the same time using less fuel and saving you money.

Your vehicle is powered by what’s known as an internal combustion engine, engine or motor. The engine produces energy when it’s running known as horsepower. Every engine has a certain amount of horsepower it needs to produce to run correctly per its design.

Considering the speed at which technology is evolving these days, it’s never been more important to ensure that your engine oil is performing optimally, in order to keep up with the demands of your vehicle.
One of the biggest claims made by the manufacturers of oil additives is that it can increase your engine’s horsepower. Can this be true? And if so, how effective are they at doing so?

Overview of Oil Additives

There are a wide variety of oil additives on the market, and each one is designed to offer enhanced protection and lubrication for engines. Viscosity index improvers, detergents and dispersants, friction modifiers, anti-wear agents, seal swell agents, pour point depressants, corrosion inhibitors and extreme pressure additives are all commonly used to ensure optimal engine performance.

As we’ve mentioned, oil additives are synthetic chemicals that you add to your car’s normal engine oil in order to improve its performance and keep your engine clean and well lubricated. This helps keep the motor clean by preventing corrosion, limiting wear and tear and helping with fuel economy.

There are several different types of oil additives for you to consider using. The first type of treatment is detergents. These are specially formulated synthetic additives that work to keep your engine clean by removing contaminants . These contaminants are then further dealt with by additives such as dispersants that suspend the contaminants in the oil until you flush the oil out with an oil change.

Another common additive are viscosity index improvers (VIIs) which keep your oil at the correct viscosity so it flows through your engine correctly. Then there are anti-foaming agents and antioxidants. But can any of them really boost your car’s horsepower?

What is Horsepower and How is it Measured?

All engines are measured by the amount of horsepower it produces, or how much power it has. You arrive at the engine’s horsepower by multiplying torque (the amount of force the pistons apply to the engine’s crankshaft) by rpm (how quickly the crankshaft is rotating).

This equation gives us the ‘power density’ of the engine as a measurement per liter, that’s why you’ll hear things like a 100 liter engine.

Your car’s horsepower can be measured with a dynometer, or ‘dynos’ by placing your car on the machine and revving up the engine. The dynos replicate actual real world driving by putting torque on the car’s tires, the difference is measured and you get the horsepower of your car.

Most mechanic shops have the massive machines and they’re most often used to check your car’s emissions so you can get an inspection sticker which you place on your car’s windshield.

To understand if your car is running at its optimum level you can test the horsepower to understand its true performance level. Oil additives can help optimize engine performance but do they really increase horsepower? Either way, it’s important to use the right type and amount for your specific vehicle model in order to keep your engine running smoothly.

Oil Additives and Horsepower Boost Claims

It’s often claimed by marketers and manufacturers of oil additives that their products can increase the horsepower and performance of your vehicle, but but is this all hype and is there any scientific proof? Probably not as oil additives are too small a part of the engine system to make a significant difference in terms of horsepower, and here’s why…

These claims are mostly based on the idea that the synthetic molecules found in these additives reduce friction between your engine’s moving parts therefore creating less drag which improves fuel efficiency that ‘should’ lead to an overall increase in power or horsepower. However, experiments in controlled settings demonstrate that the energy it takes to get these additives to the parts is at least equal to or more than the energy it saves, so effectively cancelling out any improvements.

So the improvements are so slight that it almost doesn’t even count, regardless of the improvements. Plus each oil additive is different and not understanding which additive you should be using means you’re most likely just making things worse for your engine, and reducing its overall performance.

Now, let’s discuss the potential risks.

Potential Risks of Using Oil Additives

Using an incorrect type, or amount, of oil additive has the potential to cause negative effects on your engine’s performance. You risk causing increased wear on your engine components and reducing overall fuel economy. If you’re not using the correct amount or the ideal type of additives for your specific car, they could potentially damage your engine components further, by causing them to seize up or fail entirely.

And the biggest risk to car owners is that using these additives can actually void your car’s warranty. This is because car manufactures have specific specifications on what each car needs in order to run at peak performance.

When you include synthetic oil additives into the mix, you’re literally changing the molecular makeup of the oil you’re adding the additives to. This can cause the engine to operate at very different specifications than it was designed for which can lead to a bunch of different problems. All not under your warranty if there is a problem.

Recommended Additives to Oil Additives

So, if oil additives can’t improve your vehicle’s horsepower, what alternatives are there?
The importance of regular engine maintenance cannot be overstated. Ensuring your engine remains in top condition is key to optimal performance and power. This includes regular oil changes, as well as keeping an eye on other components such as hoses, spark plugs and filters.

Make sure you use only high-quality motor oil. This will ensure that your engine is running at peak efficiency, while reducing the chance of wear on internal components over time. And remember that the type and viscosity of the oil you need will depend on the make and model of your vehicle.

Finally, if you’re willing to invest more heavily in your engine, upgrading parts such as air filters and fuel injectors can help improve it’s performance significantly. This might be more costly than simply adding an additive to the oil, but it can often provide better results when done correctly.


We’ve busted the myth that oil additives can significantly boost your engine’s horsepower. We’ve also identified the potential risks associated with incorrect use and highlighted the importance of drivers to be aware of these risks before using these products.

Improper use can negatively affect your engine performance, potentially damage your engine components and risk voiding the manufacturer’s warranty. These are all potential ramifications of using incompatible, or incorrect amounts, of oil additives.

It’s difficult to accurately assess the overall effectiveness of these additives, as each vehicle will react differently based on its make, model, and type of oil used. Be sure to carry out regular maintenance and only use high-quality motor oil and your vehicle’s engine should stay in top condition, without the need for oil additives. If you want to take it one step further consider upgrading your engine parts to achieve optimum performance.


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