Oil Additives and Engine Longevity: Can They Help Extend

Using oil straight out the can is essential for any car, but that doesn’t mean the regular oil you use can’t be improved upon. That’s where oil additives come in.

One way to make your normal oil super is to add an oil additive which is basically a synthetic oil that has chemicals that make your oil better in one way or another.

One way to make your normal oil super is to add an oil additive which is basically a synthetic oil that has chemicals that make your oil better in one way or another.

Most car owners, especially if you own something expensive, know that regular oil changes and proper maintenance routines can help keep our car’s engine performing better and in the long term is better for our engines for a variety of reasons.

But many car owners don’t understand that adding oil additives can even improve on just simple oil changes by reducing friction between the engine’s internal parts and even increasing gas mileage saving on high fuel costs.

So we will try to make all the benefits of oil additives as obvious as we can and go through all of the different types of oil additives that are available today. We’ll even discuss ways to make sure you’re using these synthetic chemicals correctly and not causing more harm than good.

The Role of Motor Oil in Engine Performance

Think of the motor oil you add to your car’s engine as the blood running through your veins. Just like our blood, your engine oil is responsible for all sorts of things when it comes to your car’s motor performing correctly.

And just like our blood, engine oil helps by removing sludge and buildup and keeping everything lubricated enough so that there is less wear and tear on the internal parts of the engine. It even helps keep your engine cool just like the blood in you keeps your body cool. There are actually a lot of similarities.

And using the right type of additives is just as important as not using them at all. If you decide to just add any additive just to add something yet it’s a chemical your car doesn’t even need, it can actually do more harm than good. Or it does nothing and you’re simply throwing your money down the drain. Either case is not good so yes, it’s important to understand the differences between all of these additives.

Types of Oil Additives

The first thing you should know about engine oil additives is each one is specially formulated for a certain problem your car can be experiencing. So if you understand a little about your car like how old it is, how often you work it hard, whether there is any smoke or obvious problems with the internal parts, the better you’ll be at picking the best oil additive that matches your car’s particular needs.

Common types of oil additives include detergents, dispersants, viscosity improvers, friction modifiers, anti-wear agents, and antioxidants.

  • Detergents are similar to a bar of soap or laundry detergent and just like soap they are meant to clean the internal parts of your engine and reduce any build up of sludge or other kinds of dirt that can harm your engine.
  • Dispersants are a bit similar to detergents as they do help keep your internal engine parts clean, but they do this by breaking up the dirt into fine enough small particles that can be easily drained out when you do an oil change.
  • Viscosity improvers are added to help improve how your oil reacts to temperature changes by helping the oil either thicken at higher temperatures or thin out some with cooler temperatures.
  • Friction modifiers do just what they say in the name, reduce the friction that is caused when two objects come together and rub against each other.
  • Anti-wear agents act like a thin coating that helps protect any surfaces it comes into contact with similar to the protective coating you have on your dining room table.
  • Lastly, antioxidants can also be added which can really help with older engines or engines that are showing signs that they may have rust.

How Oil Additives Affect Engine Longevity

By helping to reduce the wear and tear all combustible engines go through on a daily basis, these additives have been proven to not just improve the performance of an engine, but also help extend the life of the engine which obviously can save you a lot of money in the long run.

But even short term, using oil additives can make it so you’ll need to change your oil less frequently than if you chose not to use them. Just this small extension between oil changes can offset or balance the costs that are associated with oil additives.

But that doesn’t mean you should just randomly throw any oil additives you have laying around and expect to get a positive outcome with them. If you aren’t careful and don’t bother reading the directions you can end up adding too much of an additive and clog up your car’s oil filter, or worse mess up the entire lubrication system making your car less efficient than it was with no additives at all.

One thing you can do in order to be cautious is to check out your car’s owners manual and make sure your specific car doesn’t have anything important to say on using oil additives. Sometimes when a car manufacturer specifically states in the manual that they shouldn’t be used and you go ahead and use them anyway, you can actually void your car’s warranty! So always check!

How to Choose the Right Oil Additive for Your Engine

One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you’re using the correct oil additive for your specific car’s engine needs. If you don’t you can sometimes cause more problems than you had to begin with!

Determine your engine’s needs: What’s going on with your engine, are there any obvious signs of wear and tear, signs of rust or is there smoke pouring out of your tailpipe? These can always help point you to the correct oil additive type you should be using.

Check the compatibility: Here we are talking about the oil you’re using in your car, not the car itself. Different types of oil additives work with different types of oil. Make sure if you’re using conventional, synthetic, or high-mileage oils that the type of additive you’re choosing was formulated to work with that specific type of motor oil.

Consider the brand: Believe it or not the brand you use can influence the results you get, just like different car brands perform better or worse, so do oil additives. Make sure it’s a well recognized brand with data behind it. A great brand should be recognizable and should be able to be found in most quality car parts stores.

Consult your mechanic: If you’re just learning about additives or you just don’t have the time to really dive in and understand them well enough to be confident you’re using the right one, why not just ask your mechanic. Most mechanics are very well versed in additives and can tell you a lot better which one would be the most beneficial for your particular car and driving habits.


As long as you’re using your oil additives correctly, these synthetic chemicals can make a difference when it comes to improving the longevity of your motor.

And although it may not always seem obvious how well they’re working to lessen the stress placed on your car’s engine each day, over the lifetime of your car the saving in mechanic’s fees, extended oil changes and improved fuel consumption, these additives can not only pay for themselves but also save you money in the long run.


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