Interesting article about how oil additives = snake oil - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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Interesting article about how oil additives = snake oil

This is an article written by a guy who works for Amsoil, so just disregard the obligatory plugging of his own company he does at the beginning, and it's a very good article...


Just Say No to Aftermarket Additives

The performance benefits of aftermarket additives are mostly unsubstantiated

AMSOIL has long discouraged motorists from using any kind of aftermarket lubricant additive. After all, AMSOIL synthetic lubricants use the finest quality synthetic basestocks and additive systems. AMSOIL's response to the question "Should aftermarket additives or aftermarket products be added to AMSOIL motor oils?" is " No, you don't need them. AMSOIL motor oils are formulated under the strictest quality control standards to provide superior lubrication performance. Additives cost money and only detract from the quality of AMSOIL motor oils." Additionally, not only do they detract from the quality of the motor oil, but they can also be damaging to your engine.

From Honda' website

Here are some simple steps you can follow to keep your Honda running well all year long.
Engine Oil Additives
Today's engine oils are formulated to maximize performance. Additives are unnecessary and increase the cost of operation.

Here is a copy of DaimleChrysler's Technical Service Bulletin dealing with oil additives

Date: May 4, 2001

Models: All (BR/BE) Ram Truck

2001 (AB) Ram Van/Wagon
2001 (AN) Dakota
2001 (BR/BE) Ram Pickup
2001 (DN) Durango
2001 (JR) Sebring Sedan/Stratus Sedan/Sebring Convertible
2002 (KJ) Liberty
2001 (LH) Concorde/Intrepid/LHS/300M
2001 (PL) Neon
2001 (PR) Prowler
2001 (PT) PT Cruiser
2001 (RG) Chrysler Voyager (International Markets)
2001 (RS) Town & Country/Caravan/ Voyager
2001 (SR) Viper
2001 (ST) Seebring Coupe
2001 (TJ) Wrangler
2001 (WG) Grand Cherokee (International Markets)
2001 (WJ) Grand Cherokee
2001 (XJ) Cherokee

NOTE: This bulletin applies to all DaimlerChrysler models / engines built before and after the 2001 model year.


Engine oil additives/supplements (EOS) should not be used to enhance engine oil performance. Engine oil additives/supplements should not be used to extend engine oil change intervals. No additive is known to be safe for engine durability and can degrade emission components. Additives can contain undesirable materials that harm the long term durability of engines by:

Doubling the level of Phosphorus in engine oil. The ILSAC (International Lubricant Standard Approval Committee) GF2 and GF3 standards require that engine oil contain no more than 0.01% Phosphorus to protect the vehicles emissions performance. Addition of engine oil additives/supplements can poison, from added sulfur and phosphorus, catalysts and hinder efforts to guarantee our emissions performance to 80,000 miles and new requirements of 150,000 miles.
Altering the viscosity characteristics of the engine oil so that it no longer meets the requirements of the specified viscosity grade.
Creating potential for an undesirable additive compatibility interaction in the engine crankcase.
Generally it is not desirable to mix additive packages from different suppliers in the crankcase; there have been reports of low temperature of low temperature engine failures caused by additive package incompatibility with such mixtures.

Policy: Information Only


What does this TSB mean? Use a quality oil that meets the API and viscosity specifications for your engine, and forget the mouse milk additives! Also - do not mix different brands of oil in your crankcase.

A perfect example of why AMSOIL discourages use of aftermarket additives is the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) recent lawsuit against zMax auto additives, seeking to halt false and misleading advertising and gain refunds for customers who purchased the products. According to the FTC, the enhanced performance benefits zMax claims its products provide are totally unsubstantiated, and in the same tests cited to support performance claims, motor oil treated with zMax actually produced more than twice as much bearing corrosion than motor oil by itself. They further allege that the three different zMax products- an engine additive, a fuel line additive and a transmission additive- are nothing more than tinted mineral oil.

The complaint states that since at least May of 1999, zMax has aired infomercials promoting its "Power System", a $39 package of three additives to be used in the engine, fuel line and transmission of automobiles. The infomercials are quite convincing, even going as far as featuring testimonials from various consumers and race car drivers making such claims as, "I was averaging about 22 miles to the gallon on the highway. I installed the zMax and so I jumped right up to about 28 miles per gallon" and "zMax guarantees a minimum of 10% gas mileage increase." Other advertising claims "zMax with LinKite has the scientific, CRC L38 proof it takes you car to the Max!" and 'Why zMax Works- Cuts carbon build-up on valve stems 66%; Lowers wear on valve stems 66%; Lowers wear on piston skirts 60%; Reduces blow-by leakage 17.7%; Increases combustion efficiency 9.25%; Lowers fuel consumption 8.5%- results of an independent CRC L38 test."

The CRC L38 test is a standard auto industry test which measures the bearing corrosion protection properties of motor oils. According to the complaint, in early 1997 an independent testing facility performed two CRC L38 tests of the zMaz products. The results showed motor oil treated with zMax additives produced more than double the bearing corrosion as motor oil alone. According to the FTC, the defendants eliminated the bearing corrosion results, as well as all other negative results, to produce one "report" from the two sets of tests, using this "report" in its infomercials and on its website.

The FTC charge alleges that zMax did not possess and rely on reasonable substantiation fro the following product claims:

increases gas mileage by a minimum of 10%, reduces engine wear, reduces or eliminates engine wear at startup, reduces engine corrosion, extends engine life and reduces emissions.

The FTC also alleges that the defendants falsely represent that the results of the CRC L38 test prove that zMax:

increases gas mileage, reduces engine wear, extends engine life, lowers fuel consumption by 8.5%, lowers wear on valve stems by 66%, lowers wear on piston skirts by 60% and cuts carbon build-up on valve stems by 66%

Finally, the FTC charges that zMax does not have substantiation for the representation that the testimonials and endorsements shown in the zMax advertising are "the actual and current opinions, findings, beliefs, and/or experiences of those consumers; and typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the product."

The lawsuit against zMax is the latest in a long line of FTC charges against auto additive manufacturers. The FTC has previously halted allegedly deceptive advertising by the marketers of Dura Lube, Motor Up, Prolong, Valvoline, Slick 50, STP and other major brands of engine treatment systems.

End of Article

Stay away from all aftermarket additives!

You simply do not need them and you surely don't need the problems they may cause with your engine. If your still not convinced then think about this statement:

The major oil companies, including AMSOIL, are staffed with the, bar none, some of the best chemists, scientists and engineers the world has to offer. Now, don't you think that if they determined that their motor oil was lacking an additive that they would blend it in their additive package? They obviously have the technology and resources and the financial backing to do it. Then why don't they? The answer is simple: They are not needed!

How can it be that some fly by night additive manufacturer can have a miracle, cure-all additive without knowing the chemistry of the oil it will be used in? The answer is, they don't. They simply are out to get your money by using false and deceptive advertising to appeal to your desire to have what they are selling in your engine. They are masters at marketing, not science chemistry and engineering and I would equate them to nothing more than snake oil companies. Thank goodness for the FTC that is actually doing what it is supposed to be doing; protecting the consumer and going after these companies and hopefully put them out of business.

Without going into extensive detail here's what you need to know about aftermarket oil additives: There are basically two types of additives used, either Teflon based with PTFE (like Slick 50) or Chlorinated based (like Dura Lube) with some type of carrier, usually a paraffin based carrier or other mineral oil. Some have extremely large amounts of moly, zinc or phosphorus, all extreme pressure agents which are detrimental to a motor oils proper function in the amount that they use.

Teflon does absolutely nothing inside your engine. Teflon must be heated up to about 800 deg. F to get it to stick to anything for friction reducing purposes, just like the Teflon on a frying pan, yet in your engine all those suspended microscopic colloidal Teflon particles do is gradually attach to you oil pick-up screen and reduce oil flow to your critical components as well as reducing the oil flow in other critical internal engine passages by attaching themselves to the passageway walls. In addition, as your oil filter filters out some of these suspended Teflon particles, your filter flow rate will be reduced which may eventually become restricted and default in to by-pass mode, which means unfiltered oil will be flowing through your engine.

Ever get bleach on your fingers? It's pretty slippery isn't it? Same principle here. Add enough Chlorinated components to a carrier and mix it with some type of teflon, moly, zinc or phosporus & you can reduce the friction, except for one "minor" thing: Chlorinated additives mixed with oil and subjected to heat forms hydrochloric acid! Hydrochloric acid is extremely detrimental to you internal engine parts. Get the picture? That's it in a nutshell.

The bottom line is: When using a properly formulated motor oil you do not need any additives whatsoever and additionally, the additives you may put in can react negatively with the additives the oil company carefully blended in. The major oil and additive companies are some of the richest and most powerful companies in the world, and they certainly can afford to hire the top chemists that know how to properly formulate a motor oil (this is not to say they make a quality motor oil; just that they know how to properly formulate one to perform the functions it was designed to do and meet the required specifications). Then these additive companies pop up claiming to perform miracles with their outrageously priced snake oil. Do yourself a favor and stay away from aftermarket oil additives, regardless of how appealing the bogus claims they make in their advertising are!

What if They Have a Test To Show How Their Additive Works?... Read On...

At a recent trade show we were at one of these miracle oil additive companies was there with a machine that demonstrated how their additive reduced friction. It was a motor with rotating solid steel disc secured to the motor shaft and a torque meter with a flat piece of steel mounted on the torque arm. They put every type of oil on the market, one by one, on the machine & pressed hard on the torque meter and at about 20-40 lb-ft torque the torque arm would stall the motor....that is until they cleaned it off & tried their (chlorinated) additive "IXL" on the bearing & ran the test.

People were amazed as the meter peaked out at 140 lb-ft. torque and still didn't stall the motor. We knew what was happening but many unsuspecting consumers were eating it up and standing in line to buy the additive. The next day we showed up with some Head & Shoulders Shampoo disguised in an oil bottle & had the IXL additive people try it on their test machine. The operator was amazed as the motor just barely stalled at 140 lb-ft. The operator says that's pretty good stuff, what is it? We said Head & Shoulders. He was quite embarrassed to say the least. Head & Shoulders has high levels of high potency ZINC in it that attaches itself to ferrous metals. Coke soft drink will do exactly the same thing. ZINC reduces friction and provides anti-wear protection and is present in most motor oils at a much reduced level. Now, would you put Head & Shoulders in your engine?

Additionally, the test machine was measuring EXTREME PRESSURE. Motor oils do not have extreme pressure additives blended in like gear lubes do nor do they need extreme pressure additives. Their is absolutely no need for EP additives in a motor oil. A gear lube would not stall the motor as easily because gear lubes have high levels of Extreme Pressure additives blended in, but do you think they would test their IXL additive against gear lubes? Heck no! They use motor oil....They are comparing apples to oranges & tricking you into buying their additive. Same theory holds true for Slick50, Prolong, Dura Lube, Motor Up, Valvoline Engine Treatment and many others. Please DON'T be fooled by oil additives. They simply are not needed and can be detrimental to the proper function of a motor oil.



Full article here:

Say No to Oil Additives

FWIW, everyone seems to agree on this. Here are some more...

And here's the mother of all oil-additive articles...

Snake Oil! - Is That Additive Really A Negative? .: Articles

Seems to me additives are:

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-30-2008, 08:49 AM
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What do you guys think of those 5 min. motor flush in a can by GUNK, or K&W. Based on my experience in automotive service and repair I have tried it on countless cars and always worked out very well. Engines tend to run noticeably smoother, and oil seems very black when you drain the pan after the flush which indicates that it does breakup some of the sludge and deposits. For some reason im kinda hesitant to use it on my Mercedes. any opinions?

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-30-2008, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by KYU500SL View Post
What do you guys think of those 5 min. motor flush in a can by GUNK, or K&W. Based on my experience in automotive service and repair I have tried it on countless cars and always worked out very well. Engines tend to run noticeably smoother, and oil seems very black when you drain the pan after the flush which indicates that it does breakup some of the sludge and deposits. For some reason im kinda hesitant to use it on my Mercedes. any opinions?

And then.................?
It is ok on someones car, but not?
If it was passable to put a mechanic in a bottle.
Don't do it.

From,The Ten Commandments.
Don't do to others, what you don't want them done to you.


Last edited by aam; 03-30-2008 at 12:17 PM.
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