A few days ago, Sean Kilcarr writing at Fleet Owner magazine, wrote a few thoughts down about separating the science from the snake oil when it comes to fuel additives. Do they help trucks get more out of their fuel, or do they simply mask over problems that arose from over-engineered, less powerful “clean” fuels? Truck drivers are basically forced to use these fuels, so they should probably be concerned about how truthful the claims behind them are.
The key, Kilcarr says, is precision. You can’t be sloppy with how much or little goes into the tank, and you can’t expect one formula to fix more than one problem. The problem is, the mixes that fill our tanks from the fuel pumps aren’t as carefully mixed as the fuel used in the maker’s scientific studies. The studies also had the benefits of being conducted under very strict conditions, which any truck driver can tell you simply doesn’t exist on the highways as they know them.
Dave McKenna of Mack Trucks says, many times this amounts to false advertising at the expense of the driver or the carrier.
“The biggest concern for any OEM when it comes to additives is quality control,” he explains. “At the end of the day, you need to remain fully aware of how delicately balanced the entire truck powertrain system is today—not just in terms of the engine and fuel delivery system, but the lubricants within them as well as the engine coolant.”
McKenna says “side effects” from either poorly formulated additives or too high an additive mixture can cause premature wear on any number of components, especially diesel injectors, the very component most additives are designed to protect in the first place.
That’s trouble. Costly trouble.
It also generated a pretty pointed response from Gary Pipenger, president and owner of diesel fuel additive supplier Amalgamated Inc. We encourage any truck driver who has to stay mindful of fuel efficiency for their bottom line to read what both men have to say at Fleet Owner Magazine online.