What About
Engine, Transmission & Fuel Additives?

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No maintenance book could be complete without some discussion on additives. The most popular question I am asked is to give my opinion on PTFE oil additives. Well, I think they stink. I think they are worthless and my view is shared by most everyone who knows anything about oil.

I call almost all engine oil additives "magic lotions". I have never, nor will I ever recommend that anyone spend $30 or so for a quart of regular oil and what may be a tablespoon of Teflon. Independent tests have clearly shown that there is no documentation to support those outrageous claims of eliminating wear by using a "magic lotion". Furthermore, Ford, GM, and Chrysler all warranty their car engines for up to seven years. If there was a product that stopped engine wear and virtually eliminated the possibility of major engine repair and did all of the other outlandish claims they say their products will do, why wouldn't these products be installed at the factory.

One independent test showed that one magic lotion actually caused more engine wear than regular oil. The most comprehensive testing I've seen done was in an article in Road Rider Magazine Aug '92. After seven pages of test results, they said, "...We doubt that PTFE is much slicker than some of the people marketing it.".

A different government report says they were never able to identify all the laboratories who tested and now tout these oil additives. It goes on to say that they were unable to document almost all of the claims made by these lotion salesman.

Even the inventor of Teflon, Dupont, says there is no evidence that their product mixed with engine oil will benefit the engine.

I have requested that most of the major players in the PTFE additive game provide me with documentation and data of the tests they claim they have run. Not one will provide so much as the name of the lab, the name of the person who did the tests, or any information other than those silly marketing brochures.

A message to wives: in one "magic lotion" commercial, a wife knocks a hole in the oil pan of her very expensive car. While all the oil runs out onto the ground, she calls her husband from the side of the road using her cellular phone. He says something like, "drive it on home honey, I've recently put xxx oil treatment in the engine." If this ever occurs to you, and your car is under any kind of warranty and you expect to collect on the claim, you better call a tow truck!

I'm not against additives. But don't use them because you think your car will love you more.

Use an additive (oil, transmission, radiator, fuel) when
you have a symptom to correct.

For instance, if you suspect you may have water in your fuel tank, use a fuel additive that absorbs water. A small radiator leak may require the use of a radiator stop leak. If your car is old and uses a lot of oil, use an oil additive that helps to control oil consumption.

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