Do Octane Boosters Work? Our Top 5 Recommendations
Octane boosters are one of the most sold fuel additives. And there are many reasons you would want to use them in your vehicle too. If used right, an octane booster can reduce the risk of engine damage, while also making the engine run better. We will discuss them in detail below.
Why is octane number important?
You need to remember that a low octane fuel ignites at low heat and pressure. A High octane fuel is more resistant to heat and pressure. The energy packed in the explosion doesn’t change between low and high octane. But the bang will be bigger if we can compress the air tighter, and then ignite the fuel.
We’d want to do that when more power is needed from a smaller engine. For example, a turbocharged, high compression engine would love high octane gasoline.
Should you add Octane Booster?
Adding a booster can benefit your vehicle or it might do nothing. This depends on the compression ratio of the engine. Only a high compression engine will benefit from adding an octane booster to regular gas if you can’t find high octane gas.
Most vehicles on the road don’t use high-compression engines. But performance-oriented cars and motorcycles will have high compression engines.
Now if you put low octane fuel in the high compression engine, and can’t find octane booster, it’s recommended you don’t put too much load on the engine. Because, if you put pedal to the metal you might have to deal with engine knocking.
Engine knocking is just early detonation of the fuel. This can damage the engine also as early detonation puts lots of strain on the engine. Imagine the fuel detonating while the piston is still in the upward motion.
However, almost all cars come with a safety system built in for this. It’s called a knock control system. Whenever it detects knocking or pinging, the ignition timing is retarded. This helps the engine run better with low octane fuel, but you do lose some horsepower. That said, you might not notice this loss in your day-to-day commute. Know if you should use fuel injector cleaner
Who should not use Octane Boosters?
If you have not modified your engine, it’s best to refer the owner’s manual of your vehicle. If your vehicle is designed to run on regular 87 octane fuel, adding premium fuel will not make the engine run better. It won’t hurt the engine, but it won’t help also.
Dangers of using octane boosters
Different brands of octane boosters use various different chemical compounds to raise the octane number of fuel. Some chemicals may not go well with your engine and may harm in long term use.
For example, octane boosters using MMT (Methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl) can damage the catalytic convertors of your vehicle. This is not a concern for race cars that do not have catalytic convertors. Also, Manganese is a well-recognized neurotoxicant, and therefore use of MMT is highly discouraged.
Thankfully, we have a host of options to choose from. We have recommended our best picks below. These are tried and tested products that have proven to be safe for the engine.
Best Octane Boosters available in the market:
Royal Purple Max Boost
In this list, Royal Purple Max Boost provides the biggest bump in octane rating. It can raise the octane rating up to 30 points.
It gets this edge by being an MMT-formulated octane booster. Now, as mentioned before, this MMT is a toxic chemical that’s not good for the enviroment. In fact, it’s banned for use on street vehicles.
That’s why most MMT formulated products have a “Racing formula” mentioned on the label. The biggest con of MMT octane booster is that it can damage the catalytic converter of the vehicle in long term. Although, the company says that it’s safe of catalytic converter, but we won’t recommend you this product if you have a stock OEM exhaust system.
K&N is a trusted USA-based brand when it comes to after-market mods. This additive reduces early detonation by sufficiently raising the octane number. Along with this, it also cleans the fuel system.
You can use this in your stock vehicle as it’s safe for catalytic convertor and O2 sensor. A 16 ounce bottle is good for treating 18 gallons of fuel.
Lucas Oil Octane Booster
If you need an octane booster without thinking too much, you can’t go wrong with Lucas Oil. This product is safe for O2 sensor, catalytic converter, and turbochargers. You can use it in a fuel injected or a carburetor engine. A 15-ounce bottle is good for treating 25 gallon fuel.
STP Octane Booster
STP makes all kinds of additives and has customers who vouch for their stuff. This octane booster is no different. It cleans the fuel system along with reducing engine knocking.
The bottle design is compatible with a cap-less gas system.
Klotz Higher Octane Booster
Unleaded fuel was only introduced in 1970s and it became the norm worldwide very soon. Before that, lead was used to raise octane number and to also provide lubricity to the gas. This kept the internal mechanism of the vehicle in good order.
Klotz uses Tetraethyl lead substitute for bumping octane rating and to also add lubricity. It can raise the octane number by up to 10 numbers. This added lubricity makes it a great octane booster for older cars that were used to run on leaded fuel.
It also helps to preserve gasoline for upto 16 months. This is a good thing if your vehicle stays in storage for long durations. It does this by absorbing moisture from the fuel system.
This makes it a great option for those looking for gasoline stabilizer qualities in an octane booster.
Can octane booster damage engine?
If you follow the usage instructions mentioned on the label then you should be fine. However, if you pour too much octane booster in very little fuel, then you might face some issues. However, if your vehicle needs high octane fuel but you use low octane fuel, you might damage the engine due to knocking or early detonation.
Can octane booster damage O2 sensors and catalytic convertors?
Yes, octane boosters that uses MMT (chemical compound) can damage O2 sensor and catalytic converters. That’s why on MMT-based octane booster you’ll find “for race use only” mentioned on the label. But there are plenty of options in the market without MMT.
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