Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

To add or not to add: the additives debate

Your vehicle might look happy out in the bush or driving down the highway, towing a large camper trailer or caravan but deep down, the engine components are working very hard. Extremely high temperatures are being generated, and every part is constantly put to the test. In theory, oil lubricates these components and ensures that nothing gets damaged. Unfortunately, some oils are just not up to the job and need a little bit of help. That’s where engine additives come in. Justin Jacobs takes a look at some of the benefits of additives and if it is worth your money.

Additional additives can be equated to vitamins for your car. It will work without them, but you may just get more kick out of your engine with them! They ensure cleaning and corrosion protection for stable lubrication and temperature resistance. Engine oil lubricates and reduces friction between your engine’s moving parts. Most motor oil contains about 15 to 30% oil additives straight off the shelf. These are chemical compounds designed to improve the oil’s performance. However, in time, this oil will lose some of its additives through natural oxidation and decomposition. If your vehicle uses cheap or poor quality oil, there might not be sufficient additives in the oil in the first place. This is where adding additives come into play.

Four types of additives to consider

  1. Viscosity index improvers: These additives keep your vehicle’s motor oil flowing freely throughout the engine so that it can coat the parts needing protection. External temperatures can increase and decrease your oil’s viscosity, and additives help keep the oil at the correct consistency.
  2. Anti-wear additives: These additives coat the surfaces and parts of your vehicle’s engine to protect it from wear and tear. It can also slow down oxidation and corrosion by neutralising motor acids and repelling water.
  3. Detergents: These additives help remove and neutralise deposits, oils, impurities and acids, making them soluble so that they don’t create sludge in your engine.
  4. Lubricating additives: This additive mixes with your engine oils when your car starts and pumps it through its engine, where it will cling to its components and prevent metal to metal contact, as well as start-up related wear and tear.

Do you really need these additives?

While it’s true that you don’t need engine oil additives for your vehicle to run and if your car is brand new, one might not consider adding any of these ‘vitamins’ to your engine. However, as you put more kilometres on your vehicle, your engine will experience increased stress, friction, and wear and tear. Older cars could already have existing corrosion and rust that you aren’t aware of, and while engine oil additives won’t be able to turn back the clock, they’ll help slow down the damage and improve your car’s performance.

So, how do I choose the best additives?

While the primary function of engine oil additives is to improve your vehicle’s performance, reliability and such, the wrong additive or an incorrect combination of two different kinds, or the use of too much (or little) could do more damage than good. The chemical balance of your engine oil is delicate, and randomly adding any oil additive isn’t recommended.

If you’re experiencing resistance and hearing noises when shifting gears, a gear oil additive could help reduce wear and friction. An engine flushing product can help remove sludge and lacquer build-up, bringing them into suspension so you can remove them with your next oil change. 

But do they actually work?

Oil additives have always been a subject of controversy among automotive enthusiasts and mechanics. While some say that oil additives are not worth the hype, others swear by these products to improve the performance and lifespan of their engine. Those who use oil additives boast numerous benefits such as better fuel mileage, longer service intervals and reduced engine noise. Studies have shown that additives can do the following:

  • Reduce wear and tear
  • Restore compression
  • Extend service intervals
  • Stabilise engine oil
  • Reduce heat
  • Lower noise levels

While the above might sound good, one needs to consider the negatives. Many industry experts are adamant that if you own a car that’s less than a decade old and has been well maintained, there isn’t any need to use any additives since the car’s electronics and fuel system will be optimised to deliver the best mix of performance and efficiency. 


The internet is full of articles claiming that these additives are the best thing under the sun, while others call them a waste of time and money. While some additives have been proven to work, others are a far cry from their manufacturer claims. Some do, however, make sense. For example, if you travel into palaces with poor fuel quality, perhaps you should consider a fuel system cleaner. Perhaps your engine oil needed replacing and all that was available in your area was a cheap brand in which an oil additive could benefit you until you can change the oil to a better quality.

A new range for your bakkie from Liqui Moly

Liqui Moly has launched a new additive series tailored particularly for the needs of your overland vehicle. Liqui Moly SA Director, Melicia Labuschagne, said the Bakkie Series Additive range had been overwhelmingly well-received in the local market. This range focuses on cleaning and protecting fuel systems and engines while boosting engine performance and protecting the environment and includes three options:

  1. Bakkie Series Complete Fuel System Cleaner: Removes deposits and improves petrol quality by increasing octane level. This prevents the onset of knock, or “pinging”, a potentially catastrophic condition where fuel ignites spontaneously.
  2. Complete Diesel System Cleaner: Boosts the cetane number, optimises the combustion process and restores performance.
  3. Oil Treatment: Offers a higher concentration of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) than the other ranges, at five percent rather than two. A single 500 ml can will treat up to seven litres of oil. The MoS2 – which which Liqui Moly is famous for – forms a highly-resistant lubricating film on all surfaces, which reduces friction and, therefore engine wear. Quieter running, reduced oil and fuel consumption and extended engine life are other benefits.

The South African touch

A local company known as Dieselfix & Petrolfix recently made their 100% organic and SABS approved additive product available to South African consumers. But what is it? Dieselfix is a formulation of non-hydrocarbon liquids that conforms to the specifications of diesel fuel. This means that it is compatible with petroleum diesel and does not alter the fuel in any way. It has, however, unique chemical properties that eliminate the undesirable characteristics of diesel fuel.

What are undesirable characteristics in diesel fuel?

Diesel is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs moisture. The water content of diesel triggers oxidation, turning fuel brown in colour and depositing resin on all surfaces in contact with it. Suspended water, consisting of tiny particles of liquid water, too small to drop out of fuel, is both corrosive and abrasive and causes enlargement of injector nozzles. In combustion, water forms powerful acids with oxides of sulphur and nitrogen. These are not only environmentally harmful but some acid gets into the crankcase by being blown past the piston rings. Acids cause engine oil to decompose, severely impacting engine wear and corrosion of vital engine components.

How does Dieselfix work?

Dieselfix converts water into a completely different fluid that is a fuel-soluble, fully combustible lubricant, which is chemically inactive with SOx and NOx. This reduces the ageing of the fuel, and acids are not produced during combustion, effectively inhibiting corrosion. When a lubricant replaces water, the fuel system wear is significantly diminished. Secondly, Dieselfix contains a mild, highly specific resin solvent that dissolves resin back into the fuel where it belongs. This maintains fuel and fuel injection systems in pristine condition. Where microbial infestation exists, lack of habitat and nutrients kill the bugs, and Dieselfix dissolves the dead remains.

*For more information: www.dieselfix.co.za

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