Since the beginning, people have been trying to get the most out of their equipment, while minimizing costly downtime and repairs. Fuel quality is a problem as old as the engine; with issues such as water build up, gumming, and carbon causing sometimes costly repairs. Check out our tune up tips if you’re looking to get the most out of your snow blower. Scroll down for our recommendations.
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What are fuel additives? Isn’t this snake oil?
Fuel additives are chemicals that are designed to blend and mix with fuel, improving the properties of the fuel. There are many such chemicals, but common fuel additives can contain such things as:
- Solvents, designed to clean fuel pumps, carburetor jets, and injectors of deposits and sticky residues.
- Detergents, to help reduce carbon and fouling on valves and in combustion chambers.
- Combustion enhancers, which allow fuel to vaporize more easily and thus burn more thoroughly.
- Antioxidants, which help to keep the fuel fresh for long periods of time, and help prevent corrosion.
- Upper cylinder lubricants, which help fight piston ring and cylinder wear.
- Decarbonizing agents, specifically to dissolve tough carbon deposits on valves and cylinders.
- Water removers, to help water dissolve in gas better, so it does not build up in the tank.
There are many such chemicals, and in fact many perform several of those jobs at the same time. The manufacturers of many fuel additives extensively test to make sure that their blend is compatible with the types of fuel normally encountered. All of the products we recommend we’ve used ourselves, and none of them are ‘snake oils’ meant to just separate you with your money.
Doesn’t gas already contain additives?
The federal government mandates a minimum of detergent additives in gas, to help reduce pollution and optimize efficiency. These detergents cost money however, and more detergent would mean more expensive fuel. At today’s already expensive fuel prices, this is a benefit that few would spend extra for. Some types of premium fuel such as Shell V-Power market themselves as having much more detergent than the federal standards, but these detergents do little to help stabilize fuel for long term storage or remove water that has entered into a fuel system. Combine that with ethanol fuels poor storage attributes as well as tendency to pull water from the air, and your basic gas from the pump just isn’t enough anymore.
Ethanol: The modern case for fuel additives
Ethanol in fuel is a mixed blessing. It’s much safer than the MTBE, which was used in the past. Ethanol however, tends to absorb moisture from the air. This moisture can cause rust, oxidization, and in some cases bacterial growth in fuel tanks. This can cause the fuel to gum, and clog filters and narrow injectors and carb jets. Stale ethanol fuel often turns a brown color, and has a varnish like smell. Bad gas may not even start in an engine, and if your local gas station is shut down in a blizzard, you’re going to be in a hard place.
There’s a lot of additives on the market. Which ones are the best?
There are many, many additives on the market. The shelf of your local retailer likely has dozens, but we have our personal favorites here at Diy Outdoor. Here’s what our experts suggest:
Marvel Mystery Oil
Marvel Mystery Oil has been around since 1928, and its red colored bottles and wintergreen scent have graced many a garage. While not containing advanced technology like some of the other additives we’ve mentioned, it’s still a great basic fuel additive for carburetor engines. The formula can also be used in oil to help clean and remove sludge. At a treatment rate of only 2 oz for every 5 gallons of fuel, it tends to be economical to use constantly as well. Many of our experts anecdotally have noticed less fuel use as well as an elimination of spark plug and carbon fouling with using Marvel. It’s not going to be able to remove water from your fuel tank, but is a solid all-rounder for general use. The old timers also like to use this as a household oil and in their air tools, something we’ve started doing as well.
GumOut Multi-System Tune-Up
Gumout sells an entire line of fuel additives and fuel system cleaners, but their Multi-System Tune-Up product has become a favorite. Multi-System Tune-Up contains PEA, a newer technology type of detergent that is specifically optimized to clean better than traditional solvents alone. Otherwise it’s like SeaFoam in versatility. GumOut stabilizes fuel, cleans the fuel system, reduces harmful deposits, and fights fuel system corrosion
Sea Foam Motor Treatment
Sea Foam is popular enough to be considered a gold standard of fuel additives. It was originally made to help marine outboards run better. It’s popular among not just automotive circles but in small engine users as well; because it works. Seafoam claims to be able to clean carb jets, reduce moisture in fuel, stabilize fuel up to 2 years, remove deposits and lubricate your fuel system. Many we’ve spoken to will use nothing else.
Stabil 360 Protection
Stabil is what we’d call a garage favorite, everyone seems to have some laying around. Primarily a fuel stabilizer, it also helps to remove water, prevent corrosion, and keep your fuel system clean. Stabil original claims to be able to stabilize fuel for up to 2 years. The latest version is called “Stabil 360 protection”, and trades off some of the storage protection for increased ability to combat ethanol corrosion in gas. Since most gas has ethanol in it, this is a great choice for a fuel additive; Especially if your snow blower only sees intermittent use.
Described by some as “Stabil on Steroids”, PRI Research claims that PRI-G can restore even stale, bad fuel to working again. Positive stories abound online, with some claiming it’s resurrected decade old fuel to usable condition. PRI-G improves combustion efficiency, restores fuel to “refinery fresh” condition, and helps keep the engine and fuel system free of deposits. Old gas is some pretty nasty stuff, so it’s nice to see a product that can make it usable again.