Summer Diesel Friction Concerns
i.e., Diesel Facts and Friction, Summer 2021 Edition

Image by Ronald Plett from Pixabay

Hi everyone, The Fuel Guy here. While we are mid-summer enjoying vacations and warm weather, our fuel systems are the last thing we want to think about, after all, it is too nice to have fuel related problems, isn’t it.  So enjoy your summer, but let’s take a moment to maybe rewire our brains regarding a serious misunderstanding about needing to care for your equipment only during the winter.

In this article:

  • Do I need to worry about my diesel fuel lubricity in the summer? Or only the winter?
  • How does blending my own diesel affect my fuel system?
  • What lubricity tests can prove that an additive works?
  • What questions should my diesel additive company be able to answer about their product?

We are talking about fuel system lubricity. The arrival of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel raised a number of questions concerning the need for additional fuel system lubricity. In the past it was thought that we only need to add lubricity to our system during the cold with the use of blended diesel. This was more the case then, rather than today, because things have changed.

The process that removes sulfur also removes lubricity and the new #1 and #2 fuel are almost void of the lubricity that it once had.  There have also been many changes in our engines including injector pressures of 40,000 PSI (pounds per sq. inch) and injectors that open and close 5 times more often than they used to. The cost of repairing this equipment has increase 5 times as well so it is critical to protect your investment. 

Adding lubricity to your fuel every time is not only simple to understand but easy to do. Why would you not want to always lubricate your fuel system? What part on your vehicle would allow you to occasionally or seasonally lubricate it?  Your differential, transmission, wheel bearings, how about your engine oil. These things need lubrication always, not just sometimes.  I will give you the fact that the results of no lubrication in these components will result in a quick failure as opposed to the longer-term failure of fuel system without lubricity, but keep in mind, it is said that 2/3 the cost of a new diesel engine is the fuel system and 1/3 is the engine itself.  The answer? Change the Way You Treat Your Fuel. 

As important as lubricity is, it has become a buzzword for companies to add to their product labels and capitalize on it. Let’s look at this a little more in depth. 

What Works for Diesel Lubricity?

There was no lubricity test until the introduction of low sulfur fuel, but now testing is done using 2 tests, the HFRR (High Frequency Reciprocating Rig) and the Scuffing Load Ball-on-Cylinder Lubricity Evaluator (SLBOCLE). Test results from one of these is what you want to look for in an additive.

Simply claiming to have a lubricity agent means nothing. How much and does it work is what is important. One great reason to seek actual test results is that many additives use solvents to clean your system. They are cheap to manufacture but they are hard on fuel systems. Unfortunately, no matter if the product contains a lubricity additive, the solvent used to clean will also strip off the lubricity at the same time. This is why many products on the market not only have no test results available but according to one of the largest injections system manufacturers in the world, 7 of 8 of the biggest products names on the market actually tested worse after the additive was added to an untreated fuel.  

Who Can You Trust?

Because of the concern for additional lubricity in diesel fuel there has been the usual preying upon the consumer. Most people do not have access to good information; this makes them vulnerable to those trying to take advantage.

One thing to look for when purchasing a lubricity additive is to make sure the product has been tested, as mentioned previously and I don’t mean in somebody’s basement. Many products claim an increase in lubrication. Some may even volunteer to show you how well their product works using one of the so-called friction testing machines or some home-built contraption. Unfortunately, this is not possible. Only qualified labs with the proper equipment can test a fuel’s lubricity or the effectiveness of an additive. Understand, these two legitimate tests apply weight during the test in 100-gram increments and since it takes over 454 grams just to equal one pound you can see how delicate the tests are. A person trying to show that a product lubricates with the use of a friction contraption that applies weight in pounds. This is not only hocus-pocus but dangerous.  The agent used make a product look good on friction machine is an EP  (Extreme Pressure) agent and is not good for diesel equipment and  corrosive. There is so much more to the accurate testing that has not been discussed and proper analysis just cannot be done outside a lab. 

Chart showing diesel fuel lubricity results after supplementing with PFS

Understanding the HFRR testing results: The HFRR test is designed to create a scar (or flattened area on the surface of a steel ball). The width of the scar created during the testing is measured. A wider scar indicates less lubricity, and the number shown in the test results as seen above is the width of that scar. Therefore, the smaller the number shown in the testing results the better the lubricity performance. PFS diesel treatments bring even the poorest of fuels into the recommended lubricity range: under 460. The lower the number the better.

Some additive companies have had their products tested for lubricity. It is not impossible to create a product with a quality results, but the proper testing must be conducted to prove that it works. Be careful not to believe everything in a company’s literature. Figures can be twisted to make things look differently than they really are. With any test results ask about the dose ratio of the additive used for the test.  Some products claim that you need to use more of their product only during cold weather and obviously the reduction in lubricity is also reduced. It is funny to note however when and if they have their products tested, they use the maximum dose ratio, to show the best results possible. They can then claim the results without explaining that they tested their product using more of the product than they say you need.  If a product is supposed to work for you at a given rate, then it should be tested as such.  

Any quality additive supplier should be delighted to show you the actual test results of their product using the proper methods.  If not, beware. Some products claim to meet the lubricity requirements of all fuel injection systems. All PFS diesel treatments have quality lubricity additives, and when used properly they can be extremely helpful in increasing the life of you fuel system and be cost effective too.    

Anytime you’re working with fuels there are going to be variables. You can’t simply look at your fuel and know how much lubricity it needs. This is why you should stay away from anyone selling a lubricity additive with dose ratios that vary or have an additional product for extra lubricity.  Some fuels naturally have more lubricity than others depending on the crude used to make the fuel and the refining techniques. You never know.  If you are blending your fuel, you also have reduced lubricity. This is why making the claim that you can meet lubricity requirement by using a simple product is not necessarily true.  

Most people think that winter is the only time a blended fuel is used; unfortunately, this is not always true. In the summer, No. 1 fuel that doesn’t have a home may be added to No. 2 fuel in order to get rid of it and blend off the excess No. 1.  You don’t always know what you’re getting. 

You can trust PFS with a product that is not only simple to use every time you fuel but never varies its dose.  You can be assured to get the best lubricity on the market. Although results will vary depending on fuel, PFS has been tested as high as 28% increase in lubricity and consistently gives the best results in the industry. Add to this all the other benefits of PFS and you can be sure to extend the life of your fuel system to its max.  PFS every time for the performance and life you should expect from your engine. Click to see the studies and tests using Power Plus Diesel Performance Fuel Additive.

How Can PFS Fuel Treatments Help You?Diesel Power Plus and Arctic Xtreme winter diesel treatments

  1. All PFS additives remove water with continuous use, and this will retard the phase separation discussed earlier by keeping the tank free from water.
  2. All PFS additives have an excellent fuel stabilizer keeping your fuel like new for up to a year, no need for any other stabilizer additives.
  3. Our detergent dispersant additive will remove all varnish sludge and carbon in your entire fuel system, keeping it 100% clean at all times. 
  4. Power Plus contains a lubricant and not alcohol and solvent cleaners. Our lubricant helps keep all those fragile components in your fuel system from degrading and drying out. This is especially important with ethanol-based fuels.
  5. Remember, our PFS fuel additives are designed to be use every time you get fuel, keeping your fuel system at its best 24/7. It’s just like brushing your teeth every day instead of brushing them once or twice a summer. Which just makes sense, right?