How Diesel Fuel Additives Can Help Your Heavy-Duty Applications Run at Peak Performance

Learn what fuel additives are best to keep your heavy-duty applications running at peak performance.
Heavy Duty Diesel Fuel

Diesel fuel additives have an essential purpose in keeping your fuel system running at optimal performance, while minimizing maintenance and repair needs. Diesel fuel additives are used to help boost cetane, offer lubricity, kill bacteria, stabilize fuel, and stop diesel fuel from gelling up in your heavy-duty applications. Just like the trees change colors and lose their leaves, diesel fuel will also change throughout the seasons. That makes it important you understand what diesel fuel additives are and how they can be used to benefit you and your wallet.

In this article, we will review:​

  1. What are Diesel Fuel Additives?
  2. Types of Diesel Fuel Additives & Recommendations
  3. Why are Diesel Fuel Additives Needed?
  4. Treatment Rates

What Are Fuel Additives?​

Diesel fuel additives are chemical formulations that are added to diesel fuel to optimize performance while cleaning many components throughout your engine. If you are having issues with stalling out, engine running rough, or lousy fuel mileage, you may benefit from using diesel fuel additives. They can improve the performance of your diesel fuel, helping you maximize your finances, and save you from costly repairs.

Types of Fuel Additives​

There are many different types of fuel additives on the market today. Knowing which one you need may seem complicated, but we’ll walk you through what each one does, and why it may be beneficial for you to use.

Multi-Purpose Fuel Additive​

Multi-purpose diesel fuel additives have become consumers most popular choice. These diesel fuel additives won’t just help in one way, but several. Diesel fuel can require more maintenance than expected and so using a multi-purpose additive will help relieve some of that responsibility. On the shelf you will see additives that do it all. Cetane booster, fuel injection cleaner, fuel stabilizer, and anti-gel additive are some of the combinations you may see. By bundling the additives together, you can save on the overall cost from buying them separately.

Wheelco Recommendation: FPPF Total Power

Total Power is a year-round multi-purpose diesel fuel additive that combines the best fuel additives on the market today. Total Power removes water to help prevent bacterial growth and thermal/oxidation fuel related problems.  It contains fuel mileage improvers and fuel stabilizers to slow down the fuel aging process. Total Power also adds cetane improvers and injector cleaner to make starts easier and improve engine performance. Low-sulfur fuels are less lubricating and are more abrasive to delicate engine components, so Total Power adds lubricity to prevent these pump and engine wear issues.

FPPF Total Power

Anti-Gelling Fuel Additive​

While there are many benefits to running diesel fuel in your applications, there is also one main downside that many people don’t think about. Diesel fuel contains paraffin, or wax, to promote power and better responsiveness of the engine. The wax starts in liquid form and typically will stay that way, until the temperatures gets below freezing, 32° F. At this point, the wax will begin crystallizing and gelling up your fuel lines, filters, and possibly the whole engine.

To prevent the diesel fuel from gelling up, add some anti-gel fuel additive. Just add the recommended amount on the bottle to your tank before filling with fuel. Typically, one bottle of anti-gel fuel additive is good for one tank of fuel, but double check with the directions on the back of the bottle. By adding the fuel additive before you refuel, you help the additive to completely mix with the fuel, instead of it possibly sitting on top of the fuel. Anti-gel fuel additives are created to lower the Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP). The CFPP is the lowest temperature at which fuel will still flow through a specific filter.

Wheelco Recommendation: FPPF Meltdown

Gelled fuel can cause significant, sudden downtime. You need a product that works quickly and powerfully. FPPF Melt Down is a specially formulated emergency road treatment. Melt Down dissolves gelled fuel back into solution and returns the flow in approximately 20 minutes. It’s the most effective product of its kind on the market but should only be used in emergency situations. As strong as Melt Down is, it does not harm fuel pumps, nozzles or any pre-combustion engine components.

FPPF Melt Down

Lubricity Fuel Additive​

Through the life of your heavy-duty equipment, parts of the diesel fuel system will become only partially lubricated. Instead of replacing the seals and parts affected by this, simply add some lubricity fuel additive. Pumps and fuel injectors are the most commonly affected parts due to inadequate fuel lubricity.

The addition of lubricity fuel additive gives you peace of mind that your engine is being the most productive it can. Without it, your engine can begin breaking down, making your engine run rough with knocks and jumps. This wear and tear on the engine may cause more frequent maintenance and repair needs.

Wheelco Recommendation: FPPF Lubricity Plus Fuel Power

This ultimate lubrication product is a superior year-round diesel fuel treatment that combines all the benefits of Fuel Power and the most effective ultra-low sulfur lubricating technology available. Plus, it can be used in both #2 and #1 diesel fuels. Additionally, Lubricity Plus Fuel Power contains a cetane improver for better starting and smoother engine performance. This is the perfect diesel additive for most applications, except in severe cold weather.

FPPF Lubricity Plus Fuel Power

Bacteria, Sludge, & Slime Fuel Additive​

Diesel fuel additives are extremely important for protecting your fuel system from bacteria, mold, slime, and sludge. These contaminants can grow within your fuel tank, fuel line, and fuel filter, creating a mess to deal with and replace. If these contaminants are not dealt with properly, they can be sucked into your fuel system, clogging the fuel line, pump, and filter.

Diesel fuel additives protect against moisture within the diesel that will create the bacteria, mold, slime, and sludge, especially with biodiesel fuel. You can add the fuel additive before or after you are aware of the contaminants. While you are better off doing it before, adding a fuel additive once you know there is bacteria in the fuel system will only take a bit longer removal. Make sure you take the correct steps to prevent bacteria from getting into your fuel system.

Wheelco Recommendation: FPPF Killem

If your fuel sits, it will grow bacteria. Killem is a water soluble, EPA-registered product to be used as a biocide. It controls the growth of harmful microorganisms, bacteria and fungi in all oils and refined fuels including gasoline. It reduces tank corrosion, slime mats, odors, fuel system clogging, and other fuel deposits. Killem can be used in a variety of applications, including marinas, diesel fuel storage depots, and other uses of hydrocarbon fuels exposed to storage, humidity or contamination.

FPPF Killem

Fuel Stabilizer Additive​

Diesel fuel can begin breaking down in 30-60 days making it a hassle to store for extended periods of time. Fuel stabilizer additives will help keep your fuel fresh for upwards of 12 months. While many people will drain their tanks of fuel, this is not a good idea. It allows for air to accumulate within the tank, creating corrosion and varnish, not to mention drying out your seals. It is also impossible to get everything out of your fuel system, so in time the remaining fuel will gum up.

Before storing, top your tank off with fuel stabilizer additive. The additive will keep your fuel fresh so when you decide to fire the engine back up, it should take off with ease. It can also help with the efficiency of diesel fuel and decrease engine wear.

Wheelco Recommendation: STA-BIL Storage Fuel Stabilizer

STA-BIL Storage Fuel Stabilizer keeps fuel fresh for quick easy starts after storage. It removes water to prevent corrosion and cleanses carburetors and fuel injectors. This product also protects the engine from gum, varnish, rust, and corrosion and prolongs the life of any engine. Eliminate the need to drain the fuel in your fuel system by treating the fuel with STA-BIL before storing.

Sta-bil Fuel Stabilizer

Biodiesel Additive​

What is biodiesel? Biodiesel is an organic replacement to diesel fuel that can be run in any diesel vehicle. Simply, it is a chemically altered form of vegetable oil, that has been processed with alcohol and lye, which we typically use to make soap. With these biofuels gaining momentum, they too will need additives to help keep your engine running at optimal performance.

Wheelco Recommendation: FPPF Bio-Diesel Treatment

FPPF Biodiesel Treatment prevents wax formation in your biodiesel fuel in wintry weather and harsh conditions. If left untreated, your filters and fuel lines could become plugged, and cause your engine to shut down. FPPF Biodiesel Treatment is specially formulated for all biodiesel fuels, including B-20 (typically 20% soy or vegetable oil and 80% #2 diesel fuel) and keeps these fuels flowing in temperatures as low as -40°F.

FPPF Bio-Diesel Treatment

Why Are Fuel Additives Needed? ​

Just like a car, you want to protect your investments, so they last longer and minimize the cost of maintenance. Diesel fuel additives are exactly that, an investment in the future of your application. They can improve your diesel engine’s performance with each firing of the pistons and protect the fuel delivery system from fuel line to the fuel injectors.

Diesel fuel consists of ultra-low sulfur that is beneficial to the lubricity throughout your fuel system. By not adding any fuel additives, you are risking fuel system wear, clogged injectors, and filters. The ultra-low sulfur diesel can also cause corrosion in the fuel system because of the likelihood of retaining moisture. If this is left untreated you will see your engine performance and fuel economy significantly decline.

Diesel fuel additives also improve fuel economy, simple as that. As you see your engine performance improve, you will also see your fuel efficiency begin to rise. That passes along two major benefits to you- Less refueling stops and more money in your pocket!

Weather is another factor in the operation of your diesel application. As colder temperatures start to head our way, your diesel fuel will also begin to change. The liquid wax that diesel fuel contains will begin to solidify and possibly clog your fuel delivery system. Diesel fuel additives play a key role in keeping your fuel system clear. This helps with the reliability that your engine will start and continue running to peak performance throughout the winter.

Donaldson Fuel Filter

Treatment Rates​

Understanding the treatment rate for your diesel fuel additives is vital to maximizing your engines performance. While some additives will be required every time you refuel, some will only be required periodically, usually at regular intervals. Make sure you find an additive that works best for you. If you’re worried you might forget the fuel additive when it only needs to be added periodically, then topping off every fuel tank would be a better choice. Likewise, if you think you are always purchasing and adding fuel additive, maybe try a more periodic additive solution.

Next Step: Talk to an Expert

There are plenty of options on the shelf for diesel fuel additives and we know it can be a tough decision. Visit with our team of aftermarket experts and service techs to help get you the best all around treatment, or to target a specific need. Give us a call, text, or message us through chat to get started, or stop in to one of our stores today and let us put your customer needs first.

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