After-Market Additives: The True Cost

By: Allan Zieser, STLE, CLS

As equipment operators, we want the best possible protection that we can provide our equipment. The longer we can get it to last, the better. Many people see advertisements for after-market oil additives that promise extended protection and other keywords that they know will hit on our emotions. But, things are not always what they seem in the aftermarket additive world.

Formulators at Chevron spend millions of dollars to develop new products. Part of the time and money of formulation is spent sending these products through extended testing to ensure that they are formulated correctly for the intended use. For example, Chevron tested the new CK-4 oil (the last formulation round in the diesel engine world) on over 645 on-road vehicles, 255 off-road vehicles, and 52 inland marine engines to determine if the formulation would work properly in real-world environments. This was after developing and testing it in their own and engine builder designed test stands.

As you can see the formulations of modern engine and other oils are not happenstance. They occur after careful study, research, and testing by the oil formulators. With huge investments into the products before they are even released for sale.

One major issue with oil additives is that too much of one additive can knock other additives out of suspension. Too much viscosity improver, for example, can take a 0w-20 or 10w-30 engine oil and make it an SAE 60 weight oil or higher. Too much anti-foam additive in a hydraulic oil will cause the oil to foam uncontrollably.  Also, some additives will only stay in suspension in the base oils if they are added under very special conditions.

Keeping this in mind, be aware that if you add aftermarket additives to these oils they no longer fall under their designed specifications. Engine failure can and does happen due to the addition of aftermarket additives to perfectly formulated oils.  Costing you the end user thousands of dollars per piece of equipment.

The other issue is that adding after-market additives to your oils will void the oil manufacturer’s warranty. In most cases, it will also void the equipment manufacturer's warranty as well. Leaving you to foot the bill for the equipment replacement or repairs.

Overall the best course of action is to not use aftermarket additives in your oils. As we are fond of telling people, if the additives that are in these after-market products were that good and useful to the oil then it would already be included in the manufacturer’s formulation.

For more information on oil formulations, call your Ottsen Oil Expert today!