Urban Myths of Fuel Additives Statement by Mike Munroe


As a young apprentice keeping fixed timed diesel engines running all winter, it was a common practice to add automatic transmission fluid or other products to our machines in an effort to keep them running smoothly. We even used gasoline as additive to help them start and sometimes kerosene. Perhaps the worst concoction we used was a combination of methyl hydrate and chlorethylene to prevent freeze ups. Still widely used are Isopropanol and kerosene mixtures as combination anti-gel and lubricity additives.


ATF and the trade names associated with automatic transmission fluid was at one time very simple SAE 10 engine oil with red dye added to distinguish it. With the introduction of sophisticated automatic transmission technology came the demand for the lubricant to perform additional duty such as react like a hydraulic fluid and perform the duties of a coolant. ATF now can contain additives up to 30% of its content. Some of these additives have poor solubility at lower temperatures.


Some of the additives found are Boron, Molybdenum, Calcium, Zinc and Phosphorus and are formulated with other elements to form complex compounds to provide the necessary demands of the ATF. Some of these demands are viscosity improvers, friction modifiers, anti-wear agents, dispersants, metal deactivators, friction control and many other requirements specific to the make of transmission.


Modern fuel systems have the same demands as their predecessors. The requirements are pretty simple, clean, and dry and lubricate. With higher injection pressures and emissions controls, the basics of the fuel are even more important than before. Adding ATF and the associated additives can be harmful to the fuel system, the engine itself and perhaps negate the benefits of any emission controls or exhaust after-treatments.


Your choice in fuel additives should be limited to those approved by the engine manufacturer or the fuel system manufacturer. Stanadyne Fuel Conditioners are approved and readily available at the Diesel Service Centre.


We don’t use frost shields on our windows anymore.



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