Fuel Additives for 4WD Touring

An old fuel bowser showing the price of 91 octane unleaded petrol

“Never let someone else define your adventure, or tell you how to do it. Not even us.”

This is the message we put at the beginning of each post. 

The Rough As Guts mandate is that we must always tell it like it is, regardless of popular opinion. Sometimes it may seem like we’re trying to gate keep the word “adventure” when we say things like “real four wheel driving” or “real camping”. That’s not our intent, but what we damn-sure are hell-bent on, is to make sure people are never putting their limitations on others, advising against reasonable risk and lowering the bar for people who just might have gone and done something incredible if they hadn’t been talked out of it.

Your life is your adventure. Live it however the hell you want.

Table of Contents

Which Fuel Additives Should You Take When Four Wheel Drive Touring?

Fuel additives such as injector cleaner, whole fuel system cleaners or octane boosters are usually treated as an afterthought.

I usually try not to over prepare. I find an overpacked car to be more burdensome than having to be resourceful while fixing something. I try to anticipate only a few situations that might go wrong, rather than a lot, and figure it out if it goes pear shaped.

With that said, I have found taking the right fuel additive with me to be helpful, frequently enough to warrant its regular inclusion.

Here’s some of the situations, that might come up depending on vehicle type.

Common Problems With Fuel Sources in the Outback

  • Performance petrol engines – Octane: Octane will be a problem in a lot of remote areas. 98 will be as rare as hens teeth and even 95 can be hard to get. Unless you can change your engine’s tune, lower octane fuels might result in a detonation problem.
  • Older Diesel Engines: It’s not unlikely to come across problems with fouled injectors, build-up of deposits etc.
  • Common rail Diesel: Fuel in the outback or out of a jerry isn’t always the cleanest. Commonrails are particularly susceptible to problems with moisture or algae.
  • Diesel Particulate Filters: DPF’s are here to stay. A clogged DPF isn’t typically a bad enough problem to worry about fixing on the road, so we don’t reccomend carrying anything for it. Just rev it harder.
  • “Algae” in Diesel: As you get more remote, the servos typically see less and less throughput. With lower volume of sales and less frequent tan re-filling, it often leads to moisture in the tanks. Diesel Bug, often confused with algae, can grow in diesel and even though maintenance at servos usually keeps this to a low, chances are there’ll at least be some spores. With remote parts of Australia usually being North, it’s often warm as well, further promoting growth. Diesel Bug is a real bitch in a fuel system, particularly on more modern cars.
  • Water From River Crossings: Snorkels don’t always keep 100% of moisture out. For any outback rig, we’d reccomend having a catch-can in your fuel system. Not everyone will be running a catch-can and they’re also not guaranteed to keep all moisture out either.

The Best Fuel Injector Cleaners.

Diesel Injector Cleaner

For an all round diesel injector and system cleaner, we use Morey’s Diesel Smoke Killer and Injector Cleaner. It’s the best quality diesel injector cleaner we’ve seen and also fights Diesel Bug.

We have found Morey’s to be somewhat limited in it’s application. If you’re dealing with moisture problems or anything other than just fouling, see our recommendations below.

Petrol Injector Cleaner

We swear by F-10 for petrol injectors.

It’s a pretty innovative product and is surfactant based, unlike other options on the market which mainly seem to be hydrocarbon.

F-10 is also good for a heap of other applications, as you’ll see below.

 

Octane Booster

The majority of octane boosters are complete rubbish. Even the one we recommend isn’t half as good as the manufacturer’s claim (better than the others though).

If you have a tuned petrol engine that requires high octane fuels due to high boost bumping up your compression ratios, the best option is to detune it before you go remote. If it’s naturally aspirated and just has high compression, you’ll need an octane booster.

We recommend the Nulon Pro Strength Octane Booster. 3rd party tests have shown that it’s one of the best on the market, and it’s the most readily available compared to the others that also showed promise.

I’ve used it with my EXC500 dirt bike when 91 was the only unleaded available and it seemed to go alright.

 

DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) Cleaner

Like I said earlier, a specific DPF cleaner is not something I would worry about packing. With that said however, F-10 does the job quite well, so if yur rig is known for throwing up a light on the dash every now and then due to the DPF filter, it might be worth bringing F-10 instead of Morey’s.

 

Fuel System Cleaner

Removing Water

As we mentioned a bit earlier, F-10 is surfactant based, rather than hydrocarbon based. A surfactant is something that reduces the surface tension of a liquid which it’s dissolved in. It’s essentially a detergent.

It seems to be an off-label use, but I have found – usually after washing my windscreen in a river crossing – that F-10 seems to be useful at removing minor amounts of water, out of the fuel system. More than once it has saved me having to drain my fuel filter, bleed the lines and re-prime the pump. The water sensor in the fuel pump on my D22 puts it into limp mode and F-10 has saved me a lot of hassle, when it’s only a small amount of moisture and I haven’t wanted to go through the above rigmarole.

Diesel Bug Killer

Morey’s Diesel Smoke Killer and Injector Cleaner and F-10 both do a good job of this and are very comparable.

The Best Fuel Additive for 4WD Touring

I hate review articles that fence-sit and offer something like “it depends on your needs” as a conclusion.

F-10 is the best fuel additive to take with you on a remote trip. It’s the most versatile by far.

If you’re at home and solely want something that will clean your diesel injectors, Morey’s is your best shot.

I think the vast majority of fuel additives are a waste of time and money and are a gimmick at best. These two are the exceptions, in my mind.

Freedom does not come automatically, it is achieved. And it is not gained in a single bound; it must be achieved each day”

– Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself

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Rough As Guts offers guided tag-along tours through WA’s rugged Outback.

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Challenge yourself just enough, as we take you through the Golden Outback and on the Holland Track.

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