By now, someone has probably told you all about the benefits of using oil additives during your oil changes to give your oil a boost in certain ways. Some of these ways can be to help your oil stay cleaner longer, or making sure your engine stays nice and clean on the inside.
In fact, these additives can potentially do quite a bit for your car, especially older cars or ones that have a lot of miles on them. But even new cars can benefit as the oil additives are treating your oil, not your car per say.
And no oil, even the newer synthetic oils being produced today are perfect. And the older ‘standard’ natural oils are always short on certain properties and could use a little help, that’s where these products can really shine!
The whole idea of these synthetic concoctions is to help boost the qualities of your engine oil so that it can work better than in its original form, and hopefully use less of it in the way of fewer oil changes.
When all of these come together, oil additives can actually help save you a lot of time and money in the long run as far as wear and tear on your engine’s internal parts, stops at the mechanics and even on how much gas your car uses.
These are obviously all great positives that any car owner would like to boast about. But the one thing people seem to get tripped up on is just how often you should be using these additives in your engine. And that’s what this article is all about!
Understanding Oil Additives
First understand that there are many types of oil additives specifically designed for a purpose when it comes to the health of your car’s engine. They can do anything from stopping rust on the internal parts of the motor to reducing friction between the moving parts. The trick is to match their specific use to your engine’s specific needs.
One of the most common additives to these products are friction modifiers that work to reduce the friction between moving parts within your car’s motor. The idea here is less friction equals less gas consumption.
Then you have viscosity improvers which work to regulate the thickness or thiness of your car’s oil which is more important than you think. After all, that’s what the whole WD-30 stuff is about, the thickness of the oil during certain temperatures.
Detergents and dispersants can also be found in order to keep the inside of your car’s motor nice and clean, and then keep all the dirt it does detach from the interior parts suspended in the oil so when you do an oil change, all the dirt comes out of your engine.
Some of the common ingredients you’ll find in most of these products are zinc, phosphorus, and molybdenum. These all come together to create anti-wear agents that work to reduce the amount of wear on the internal parts of an engine over its lifetime which in turn extends the life of your engine.
Knowing the many different types and what they’re made of can often help you decide on which oil additive you should be adding to your car’s oil.
Factors that Affect Oil Additive Usage
When it comes time to deciding on just how often you need to be using an oil additive in your car, there are a few variables you’ll need to think about like how old the car or truck is, is it a diesel engine or gasoline, how often you’re using it and what sort of oil you’re using.
For example, diesel engines need very different additives than a gasoline engine. Diesels work hard and therefore need a lot more additives that can clean the oil and rid the containments when it is time to have their oil changed. Whereas cars that run on gas need additives that focus more on general lubrication and additives that can help the engine burn more cleanly.
Then you have the age of your car or truck to consider. Obviously a car that is 20 years old can use an additive that is meant to break down gunk and clean out the engine more than a car that’s only 2 or 3 years old.
Then you need to keep in mind how often you actually drive your car, and how far each time. If you’re a taxi driver and use your own car everyday for work, the frequency you’ll need to use an additive will be a lot different than someone who only occasionally takes their car out for a Sunday drive.
And since these are oil additives we are talking about here, the kind of oil is most definitely going to factor in on how often you’ll need to be adding an additive.
For example, most synthetic oils already have additives added to them during their production process. This can be helpful to car owners as if you’re already buying a synthetic oil that contains detergents, there’s no need to buy an additive to add even more. But be aware of situations like this because you could be adding something unnecessarily and be wasting money or worse, hurting your engine rather than helping it.
How Often to Use Oil Additives
Knowing exactly how often you should be using oil additives can be hit or miss as there isn’t a gauge in your car’s dashboard or some way of reading when it’s time to add more of one. So it can be confusing as you are basically guessing how often they need to be used.
Luckily there are a few ways to get a better gauge on how often you should be adding additives. One way is to see what the manufacturer of your car has to say about the issue. Many manufacturers have guidelines in their user manuals regarding the frequency of use for oil additives. And if yours does, it’s a smart idea to adhere to what they have to say.
Then there are the experts who are often mechanics and have seen the effect of additives on a car’s performance over the years. They may not be scientists, but they’re the closest thing we have to actual research on the topic and should follow their advice.
What is their advice? As far as the frequency question is concerned, experts generally agree that adding engine oil additives each time you do an oil change is enough to get the benefits of additives without enduring and negative effects of overuse.
This means if you’re following a standard maintenance schedule, you should be changing your car’s oil every 5000 to 10,000 miles or so depending on how hard you push your vehicle. If you still have questions you should definitely read the instructions on the can and your owners manual to get a better idea.
Tips for Using Oil Additives
If you decide you’re definitely going to be using oil additives in your car, then you need to be sure you’re using them correctly so you don’t cause more harm than good. A few of the things you’ll need to be aware of include choosing the right type of additive, how to use it correctly, and how often they should be used.
As far as choosing the best oil additive for your car or truck, as we mentioned above, you need to understand your vehicle needs as far as what is it you’re trying to improve upon or correct.
Is your car really old and you’re noticing some smoke coming out of the exhaust? Then you probably need an additive that contains detergents and dispersants to help with the build up that the older engine has acquired over the years.
Or if it’s a brand new car and you’re hoping to extend your car’s engine life, you might want to start including additives that have viscosity improvers so the oil is working at its most optimal performance and does its job of lubricating all the motor parts the best it possibly can.
As far as using it goes, just remember to always check what your car’s manufacturer has to say on the topic as well as actually reading the instructions on the can. You’d be surprised how many people don’t even go as far as reading one or two paragraphs printed on the can, don’t be one of them! Know what you’re doing and why!
And as far as how often you should be using these chemicals in your oil can again be possibly found by reading some labels and manuals. And when the answer is not so clear, then as a general rule of thumb, add them every time you do an oil change. That should be plenty.
Risks and Side Effects of Using Oil Additives
Just because you’re adding something to your car’s engine oil doesn’t always mean you are improving anything. Sometimes you can really do more harm than good. So it’s important to understand when you’re doing the wrong thing just as much as when you’re doing the right thing. Here are a few things that can go wrong when you’re doing the wrong things…
Reduced engine performance: Overusing oil additives can be far worse than not using any at all. Too many additives can actually decrease the oil’s viscosity leading to oil that’s too thin to properly lubricate your engine’s internal parts.
Engine damage: Adding too much of anything in your engine can literally cause you to blow the motor. Have too much oil, oil additives or a combination of both can put too much pressure on the engine and end up blowing gaskets and seals.
Reduced fuel economy: Again, using the wrong type or overusing additives can reduce your oil’s performance and this can lead to a host of issues, the least concern being increased gas usage.
Some precautions you can take:
Choosing the right type of additive: As mentioned earlier in this article, choosing the right type of additive is crucial to avoid any problems down the road.
Following instructions: This should be such a simple thing, but far too many people simply never read the instructions on the can before pouring it into their car. Don’t do this! Read the instructions first!
Overusing: Overusing anything when it comes to your car is never a good thing. And oil additives are no different. Using them too often or using too muchalways does more harm than good, so be sure you’re using these correctly.
We all know that oil additives, when used correctly can help your car’s engine in a number of ways. But all oil additives are not the same and you need to be careful that you’re using them correctly and for the right reasons. That’s why it’s important to read up on oil additives and really understand what it is you’re putting in your car.
You should also understand why you’re even considering using these and if your car really needs a specific additive or not. There’s simply no reason to add a detergent to a brand new car and in the end can end up hurting the car. So know why you’re using them and be sure that’s the formula you’re choosing to buy.
And never use them more than what’s been recommended above. Adding your additives during each oil change is a good rule of thumb and should be enough to maximize the benefits these additives can offer. Anything more is simply a waste of money and cause for concern.