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Fuel Stabilizers for Car care: Necessary or Not?

Posted by: Erik Bjornstad

Washing, wax, vacuum the interior. Make the tires shine. Clean the windows. Refill the washer fluid.

What kind of things do you include in your car care routine? No doubt, all of these and more.  We’ve done a number of blog articles in the past, some themed around National Car Care Month in June of each year, all talking about recommendations on how to best take care of your car to make it last longer.


car_care_tips.pngSome of the car care stuff is common sense stuff you probably already do. Change your oil every 5000-7000 miles (or whatever your owners’ manual tells you to do).  Check your air pressure monthly.  Clean out your trunk so you're not wasting gas hauling around unnecessary stuff.

And given the nature of what we do, you might expect us to transition into a discussion about how essential it is to include fuel stabilizers or additives in your car care routine.  And you’d be half right. Fuel additives certainly have value, certainly, or we wouldn’t be doing what we do. But that doesn’t mean you need every kind of fuel additive. There's a lot of options out there, we know. Some of them have value as regular elements of your car care routine. Others are the kind you only need every so often.  Still others aren't really anything you ever need for your car.  How do you know which is which? A good decision here will keep your hard-earned money in your bank account instead of it leaving to be spent on things you don’t really need.

Multifunction gas additives – REGULAR USE

You only need to use these in your vehicle if they contain detergents. Gasolines typically come from the refinery with detergents, but many times those aren’t enough to keep your injectors at optimal cleanliness. So it’s worth regular use of a fuel additive that contains this plus something other things like a combustion improver.

Another thing to remember here is that if you’re going to use this regularly, it shouldn’t cost a lot to use. That’s the tradeoff. Nobody should have to spend $10 a bottle for single tank treatments. That’s too much for a regular car care routine.  Read the package treat rate and run the numbers. You shouldn’t need to spend more than 12-14 cents a gallon to treat fuel on a regular basis.  Hint – those single shot bottles of STP that you buy?  They sounds cheap ($4-5 a bottle), but they really cost upwards of 30 cents a gallon because they only treat one tank of gas.  So it turns out they’re not really a bargain at all. Steer clear of those.

Single Tank Injector cleaners – PERIODIC USE

You’ll see these typically as 12-oz single shot bottles. If you really don’t want to use a regular gas additive, these are useful every 5000 miles or so. But you don’t need these in every tank.

Ethanol Protectant Additives For Your Car – NOT NEEDED

What? You don’t need to treat the ethanol fuel in your car? That’s not exactly what we’re saying. A good quality multifunction gas additive, like the one we talked about early on, might also contain ingredients that stop ethanol damage. And that’s definitely a good thing to have.  But you don’t need any specialty additives for your car who’s primary function is to stop ethanol damage.   Cars made in the last 15 years don’t have to worry about ethanol damage. It’s your SMALL ENGINES that you need to worry about, but that’s another show, so to speak.  Stick with car care additives that do other things.

Fuel Stabilizer – NOT NEEDED

Fuel stabilizers for gasoline are important to have for your seasonal gas that you use in your lawnmower and small engines. You don’t need them for your car.

Remember, no matter if it’s for a one-time fixer or as part of your regular car care & maintenance routine, the best fuel additive is the one that works.

You may be interested in these posts:

How to Buy a Fuel Additive to Treat Ethanol

This post was published on March 16, 2016 and was updated on May 4, 2016.

Topics: Car Care