The latest revision in pump prices for the coming 7 days, effective after midnight today, sees the trend of reductions continuing. RON97 petrol will be reduced to RM2.56 a litre, a change of 3 sen from the current price level nationwide.

On the subject of saving fuel this week, let’s consider aftermarket additives which are sold in accessory shops. There are numerous brands, some which are reputable and the companies have a long history. These companies specialise in additives for mixing with fuel or in engine oil and the chemicals they use are said to reduce friction or ‘condition’ the fuel so that the engine will be able to run more economically.

Additives are also used in the formulation of the petrol and diesel and they typically consist of a mix of different chemical compounds. Although the compounds may be identifiable through analysis, the mix or ‘recipe’ is a Top Secret. So for each petroleum company, the additive package will be different and all will claim to give various benefits, including fuel-saving.

The additive packages are formulated after spending thousands of hours of R&D as well as huge funding. They are extensively tested for compatibility and quality since the companies are global players with strong reputations. As emission regulations become more stringent, the petroleum companies also modify their formulations accordingly to meet the requirements as well as improve fuel economy.

Petroleum companies spend millions on R&D to develop additive packages for their fuels and engine oils that are optimised and effective so using aftermarket additives may be unnecessary.

So the thinking is that the fuel (and oil) already has the best and most suitable additives and there should not be a need to use aftermarket additives. Pouring in additives which claim to improve fuel economy is like adding more sugar to a drink. The company preparing the coffee mix has already blended it in a certain way that appeals to people and you want it sweeter so you put in some more sugar.

Many additives have been shown to work as advertised but engineers in petroleum companies warn that some of the chemical compounds used might not mix well with the additives already in their fuels.

That is why the petroleum companies spend so much money on R&D to find additives which will not have ‘secondary effects’ and have wide compatibility. In the worst case, the additive you put in might be in severe chemical ‘conflict’ with the additives and worsen overall performance.

While we suggest that using extra additives is unnecessary, the choice is yours and if you want to use them, just keep these points in mind. Do find out more about the product you want to use before you pour it in.

[Chips Yap]

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