The Top Myths About Oil Additives and the Truth Behind Them

Oil additives have been around for many years, and they have been the subject of many myths and misconceptions and you will see as you go through this article. So to make things as clear as possible for those of you looking to separate fact from fiction when it comes to using oil additives in your car, we’ll go over each myth one by one and explain what the truth is.

Myth #1: Synthetic oils don’t need additives

Synthetic oils are modified petroleum-based products. They are designed to provide superior performance over conventional oils. In order to provide superior lubrication compared to their non-synthetic counterparts, their base stock needs to be amped up. Various detergents, dispersants, rust inhibitors, and antioxidants are added to the oils.

So if synthetic oils already contain additives why do they need more? Several experts in the automobile industry believe that synthetic motor oils should always be accompanied by additive packages. This is mostly due to the fact that they needed the additives in the first place. Non-synthetic oils offer better lubrication but can contain contaminants and may not have the same “stay clean” properties as synthetic oils.

Just because the synthetic varieties already contain additives does not mean that you can’t use the additional help. Don’t forget, there are a wide variety of options when it comes to additives so it’s doubtful that one can of synthetic oil could possibly have every single additive an engine could need.

Myth #2: Oil additives can harm engines

This is a myth that is partially based on fact and is partially true IF we are talking about whether we are using these additives correctly or not.

Obviously if you’re using a really bad brand or adding far too much of an additive, there can definitely be major negative drawbacks. Yes, oil additives can hurt your engine when they’re used incorrectly for a variety of reasons. So yes, this is partially true.

But, when used in the right circumstance, oil additives are most definitely a plus, not a minus as this myth eludes to.

There has been a lot of research going on as to whether oil additives are harmful to your car as well as the environment. And there have also been some strict safety codes placed on the manufacturers of these additives to try and minimize the negative effects of them.

So while using these can indeed harm a car rather than help it when used incorrectly, in most instances oil additives are safe and can help your car’s engine last longer with less maintenance if you take a moment and learn which ones are best for your car and how to use them correctly.

Myth #3: Oil additives can fix engine problems

This is most definitely a myth as most engine problems are a result of wear and tear, improper maintenance and faulty parts, none of which adding an oil additive can fix.

It does seem a bit far-fetched that someone would believe if they have worn out piston rings and their car is billowing smoke that adding an oil additive to the engine can someone how fix their rings.

They are physical metal parts and the only things an oil additive can do is lubricate and maybe clean the rings a bit. But additives can’t repair or even temporarily fix an issue such as faulty parts.

It is wise however to add these additives when you do regularly scheduled oil changes at the recommended times so that these problems can be mitigated. In this instance oil additives can be helpful. But they are more of a precautionary step, once damage is done there is little these additives could possibly do to actually physically fix your car’s problems.

Myth #4: Oil additives can improve fuel economy

As of today, there really isn’t any conclusive documented proof that these additives can improve a car’s fuel economy either way. And it’s a bit of a cloudy area as far as separating fact from fiction.

On one hand there is the argument that by keeping your engine free of build up and lubricated properly this can in turn keep your engine running it the most optimal way possible. Of course less friction and cleaner parts does indeed equate to a better running engine which in turn means it should use less gas.

Now on the other hand, it’s just how much less gas and in the end is the extra cost of the oil additive outweighing the actual saving in gas? And to make all of this even murkier, there are a million factors that have to do with how much gas a car uses. Tire pressure, the weather, you name it!

As I said, there is still no conclusive evidence for this either way. So for now, you’ll need to make up your own mind on this one.

Myth #5: All oil additives are the same

This is most definitely a myth for many different reasons. First off, there are a bunch of brands out there and each one has it’s own formulas when it comes to manufacturing their brand of oil additive. And as always, different brands use different chemicals in their mixes as well as different levels of quality for each ingredient. So just choosing between brands there is definitely a big difference between additives.

Then you have the types of additives that are included in a manufacturer’s product. Some oil additives only try to solve one specific problem like a disspersent or chemicals to help improve viscosity levels, and others add a few of these all into one bottle.

So each brand and each brand’s products are all very different from each other even though they are all competing in the same industry. Some are better and some worse. But they are definitely not all the same!


As you can see there are still a lot of myths surrounding oil additives. Some can be conclusively proven to in fact be a myth, while others are still in a state of flux and still need more science backed data to be really sure.

It would be great if more actual scientific studies were done that could truly measure the effectiveness of all these products and we wouldn’t need to wonder any longer if they actually help or hurt our cars. You’d think with the costs associated with a new car these days that there would be more research into this.


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