Are fuel system and engine cleaners (or other cleaners for that matter) safe for my engine?
This is a question we get asked weekly and I would like to put your mind at rest from the outset. From all our experience and testing we have yet to find a commercial fuel-based engine cleaning product that when used as per the manufacturer’s instructions, has resulted in any form of short, medium or long term damage to a fuel system or engine. Sure, there are many products that are useless and don’t deliver as promised but the main commercial ones we have tested are at least safe to use. This includes engines with superchargers, turbo chargers or the very latest particulate filters or high pressure fuel systems.
Please note that this is not a licence for you to put any old rubbish in your fuel tank! We only sell cleaners effective chemistry such as the latest polyether amines, solvents and nano-based technologies. Providing the recommend dosages are not seriously abused our cleaners are no more dangerous than putting gasoline (or diesel for diesel engines) in the fuel tank.
So why does my main dealer and car manual insist on no fuel additives?
Firstly, a combination of draconian thinking and revenue protection. Unlike in the US and other parts of the world, manufactures (fronted through their main dealers) have a vested interest in maintaining a “replace with new policy”. For example, if a main dealer plugs in their diagnostics computer and it registers a faulty diesel fuel pump or faulty injectors then they must advise the customer that they require a new pump or injectors.
We have seen a bill for almost £3000 to supply and fit 4 new diesel injectors from one of our customers! The fact that injectors and pumps can be reconditioned or that a good quality cleaner will 80% of the time resolve the problem is irrelevant. Main dealers have little choice and they risk falling out of favour with the manufacture or worse, losing their franchise if they deviate from the “replace with new” policy. If you accidently put a stain on the carpet would just replace the carpet without trying to clean it first?
Secondly, risk mitigation. Manufacturers and dealers are simply protecting themselves from customers that may foolishly put a harmful substance in the fuel tank, i.e. bleach (and we’re not joking) or putting fuel additives in with the oil or visa-versa. Hence, a straight forward “no additives” policy.
Last but not least you’ll be surprised to learn that many vehicle manufactures already use additives. That’s right, but only when it suits them. For example, a prominent European petrochemicals company provided an aggressive fuel system cleaner to a well know European vehicle manufacturer because they were facing hundreds of thousands of potential warranty claims from carbon build-up on diesel fuel injectors. The additive was administered to all effected engines on a recall or during the next scheduled service and customers were none the wiser.
So why is it different in other countries?
Unlike in the UK, the US main dealers have a strong influence over the manufactures. In many cases it is the main dealer that will call the shots. Unfortunately in the UK and the EU in general are a little behind.
Fortunately, the law is on our side (one of the few advantages of being in the EU) and we are starting to witness a change with manufacturers and franchised dealers.
Some additives still comply with BS EN fuel standards when diluted correctly and even those that don’t manufacturers will struggle to prove that any fault is the result of an additive, simply because the additive will not be at fault.
In fact, it is highly unlikely that a dealer would even know unless you tell them as it takes serious equipment to detect additives and the reality is that you have a greater risk of a dealer refusing a warranty claim due to using contaminated (untreated) fuel than using an additive to fortify the fuel or clean the system.
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