Text Box: Snake Oil; Have You Been Bitten

There are a myriad of fuel additives for gas and diesel applications.  This article will attempt to enlighten the reader to some of the misplaced facts that go along with the manufacturing and distribution of fuel additives. Most of the facts are common sense, but are never given any thought by the consumer. Since additive selection can be very complicated we should do what we can to educate ourselves. When purchasing additives please pay very close attention and use your own discretion.

Fuel additives sold in America are usually, if not always, manufactured here, as well. When was the last time you bought a chemical made in China? The raw chemicals (the individual chemical components) used to formulate additives are for the most part also manufactured here. What few are not, come from technologically advanced countries - usually  Europe. 

   There are only a handful of major raw chemical manufactures here in the U.S. and all additive companies buy their chemicals from them, either in raw form or in a finished retail product.   

   Think about the cost of an additive. Costs can vary widely When you purchase a car, buying one from Yugoslavia may be cheap.   If you buy a car from America or Europe, you will pay a lot more money, but the quality is better. You will also notice that cheap or expensive cars sell for almost the same price nationwide. You do not find a Cadillac in one state for $60,000 dollars and in another state for $10,000.   It is no different with chemicals. All additive companies pay approximately the same cost for their components, just as GM does for Cadillac components, but you don’t find any Cadillacs selling for the price of a Yugo. Did Yugo use Cadillac components? Why would anyone think that additive companies can buy expensive components and sell them for nothing. 

   Additive manufacturers do not have the option of buying their chemicals from Yugoslavia. They cannot purchase a cheap chemical from a third world country and sell it in America. Laws regulating this are very restrictive. If all additive companies are buying their chemicals from the same manufacturers it stands to reason that  they are paying close to the same cost for these same chemicals.  So are all additives you buy on the shelf the same? Of course not.  That is why we see such a wide range of prices.       

   Common sense tells us that if all businesses pay the same amount for raw components but one sells for less than another, someone is cheating you. The one thing you can be sure of is that if a product is cheap - it is cheap. On the other hand, just because it is expensive doesn't mean it is quality.  You can buy a bottle of methanol for 79 cents and you can also buy the same methanol packaged in a bottle that says super horsepower or high performance for $6.99. 

   If you’re confused by now it’s understandable, but there is no need to be.  Look for a product that is concentrated. The cost of packaging is very expensive The more plastic you throw away, the more money you have wasted. That is why each 12 oz. bottle of PFS fuel  treatment treats 120 gallons of fuel. Products that  claim to be concentrated, but are cheap are just that. They will claim that you only need a small amount except when it is cold or in case you want it to clean or if you want it to etc. etc.. etc.. Products that do appear to be inexpensive, however if you use the recommended maximum dose (usually in the fine print at the bottom) they are expensive.  To say you need to use less additive at certain times is silly.  The need to clean, lubricate, and remove water never changes. Don't be bitten by the snake oil con.

   Good additives are very effective in cleaning and extending the life of your fuel system. Poor additives can do the opposite.  Many fuel suppliers are selling a premium diesel fuel for the same price as their regular fuel which makes you wonder just what you are getting.  There are no free lunches or free quality additives. If you think you are getting something you are only fooling yourself.  Think about your business.  If you had competition come into town and start selling what they claimed to be equal to your product, but at one third the cost, or heaven help us, it was free. Do you think they would be selling the same thing? Of course. Why would anyone think it can be done with fuel chemicals. It can't.  In your line of  work you may have something made in China that costs less, but is still good quality. This is not the case with fuel chemicals. 

   One of the most expensive and essential components of a product is the detergent dispersant package. Not only are there several different qualities of raw chemical detergents, but just how much of a detergent does an additive manufacturer have to add to claim they have it. Because there are no laws regulating this, you can have a drop of detergent in a 55 gallon drum and still claim that you have a detergent.  The lie doesn’t stop there. If you want to advertise the cleaning ability of your additive even if there is only a small amount of detergent used, all you need to do is carefully word your advertising to read something like this, "the detergent in this additive meets the Cummins L-10 cleaning  test".  While the detergent in the product may meet the L-10 test when used in the proper amount, the ad is not saying their product meets the L-10 test, - just the detergent used in it. One of my favorites is the poster or bottle tag that has a picture of a dirty and clean valve and injector.  The valve is usually so dirty it would take a hammer and chisle to the clean it and the new valve has never been in a head. If you read the captions above the pictures you assume that they say before and after. But notice - most actually say dirty and clean. Just in case you are not smart enough to know. They never say they cleaned the parts pictured. Sadly there are some who won’t even try to trick you with cleverly worded phrases , they just make claims that are simply not true, such as, this product meets the lubrication specifications of rotary pumps. Think about that statement. How does this product meet these specifications? In pure form?  Mixed with #1 fuel or is it #2 fuel? What if it is really bad #2 or worse, bad #1? Does it still meet the requirements of the pump manufactures? Of course not. Unfortunately most people do not question something if it is in print,  “it must be true or they couldn’t say it.” Proverbs 14:15 says that “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.” Sadly  there is very little done to regulate these companies from making dishonest claims. If there were they could simply skirt the law by cunningly wording their claims. This is why additives have earned the reputation snake oils. 

   Some additives claim to, and even do clean  your fuel system, but without any detergent and dispersants. They simply sell you alcohol or solvent, sometimes paint thinner.  While these may clean your fuel system, they can actually be detrimental to the long life of your equipment. Do they clean?  Absolutely. Are they good to use? Absolutely not. People think that if they used an additive and their idle increased or it starts better or they haven't had any problems with it yet, that the product must be good. It may be, but don’t judge the true quality of a product because it does one thing well.  Water laced with poison may quench your thirst, but it will also kill you.  Counterman Magazine April 99 said “Fuel injector sales are on the increase because increased exposure to harsh fuel additives, water and high mileage.”  I hear all of the time, I am using such and such of additive and it is really cheap and I haven’t had any problems yet. If it didn’t  blow up it must be good? I talk to a variety of people in the fuel and pump business. I have personally performed hundreds of bulk fuel tank samplings,  and I can tell you that I have yet to see good results from using a cheap product, period. It just does not happen.  If you think a cheap product has worked well for you it is not because of the product, but in spite of it. One thing you can be sure of is that you will get what you pay for. Good fuel additives can be very beneficial. If we can send a man to the moon, we can surely make an effective fuel treatment. We can’t send a man to the moon for $1.99 and we can’t make a good additive for that either. 

 In the automotive packaging and sales business, if you reduce the wholesale cost of your product by 50% you will only reduce the retail cost of a product by about  25%.  So products that retail for half of the cost of another may have as little as one forth the amount of additive as the competition The rest is filler. Think about it?? Things aren’t always as they appear.

  Our line of PFS gas and diesel treatments are designed to do everything they claim to do. Our injector cleaner not only helps clean your injectors, but it will clean them if they are dirty. Regular use will keep them clean. At PFS we like to keep things simple in the fuel treatment aftermarket.  For instance, PFS has only one injector cleaner, GAS PLUS. Many product lines have 4 or 5 injector cleaners. Why? A product either cleans them or it doesn't. You do not need more than one. PFS products are also designed to address a multitude of other problems including removing water from your fuel system, enough to help eliminate problems in the cold without damaging your delicate fuel system.  We can do all these things because of choice in packaging. PFS is definitely not the cheapest on the shelf. It treats 120 gallons. Compared this formulation to  the competitions which usually treats 10 -15 gallons. Which is more cost effective. We only have one bottle to package and ship, so you throw away a lot less money.  Give PFS a try.  At Performance Fuel Specialists we are, 

Taking Fuel Seriously.