Does Octane Booster Work?
Zach is a founder of 8020 Media and TuningPro. He’s been repairing, upgrading, tuning, and writing about cars & engines for over a decade. Zach has written over 400 automotive articles and continues to be a lead writer for TuningPro. His passion, experience, and deep technical knowledge make him a go-to resource for readers looking to take their car to the next level.
Octane booster is a hot topic in the car, boat, and dirt bike world along with many others. Octane rating is an important measure of fuel’s ability to withstand compression. Many high-performance engines run higher-octane fuels so it must be beneficial, right? Does octane booster work? Will it actually help improve performance? In this guide, we discuss octane, octane boosters, examine whether or not they work, and look at a few of the best products available.
What Is Fuel’s Octane Rating?
A fuel’s octane rating is simply a measure of its ability to withstand compression without detonating. Internal combustion engines (ICE) run at high temperatures and pressures. Normally fuel requires a spark to ignite. However, fuel can ignite on its own given enough heat and compression; this is known as autoignition.
Autoignition can cause two potentially severe events – preignition and detonation. These topics could make up lengthy articles of their own, so we’ll avoid getting technical. The key point is that autoignition is bad. It can lead to severe engine damage to critical parts like rods, pistons, bearings, and more.
Back on track – higher octane fuels help prevent against autoignition. They have a higher ability to tolerate compression and heat. How does that translate to performance and power, though? Believe it or not – octane rating doesn’t directly relate to the energy content of gasoline. Therefore, it’s also not directly related to the power or torque output of an ICE.
So, How Does Octane Indirectly Improve Power?
There is still a reason many performance engines demand higher octane fuels. Remember, the octane rating measures the ability to withstand compression. Engines have a set compression ratio, which essentially measures how much the air is compressed by the piston. All else equal, a higher compression ratio does improve power and performance. In turn, high octane fuel allows manufacturers to increase the engines compression ratio.
Ignition timing is also an important factor in an engines performance. Higher octane fuels allow for more ignition advance which can also improve power. There are even more factors, but again we’ll avoid getting too technical for the sake of this article.
The point is – higher octane fuels do provide indirect performance benefits. Those into tuning and other performance topics likely understand this. With proper tuning, 93 octane will show considerable power gains over something like 85 or 87 octane. The same can be said with even higher octane fuels such as race gas or E85 (ethanol).
What Is Octane Booster?
Now that the basics are out of the way let’s turn this back to the subjects at hand. What is octane booster? Does it actually work? Do octane boosters work better on certain cars and engines? In these next sections we’ll answer all of these questions and more.
First up – what are octane boosters? Well, you likely understand the basic principal is to increase the octane rating of fuel. These little bottles contain liquid fuel additive. A few key ingredients are MMT, toluene, and trimethylbenzene. Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense. We’re not scientists or chemists, either.
Octane booster is simply a liquid additive meant to increase octane rating. Maybe we should have just left it at that originally.
Does Octane Booster Actually Work?
Yes, octane booster does work as a means to increase octane. It can increase octane levels by trace amounts to over 115 octane. Of course, the results depend on the product in question, how much is used, and the starting octane rating. More on that when we look at specific octane boosters. By increasing octane rating you also get better resistance to preignition and detonation.
The previous paragraph might not answer the question in the way some readers are looking, though. Octane boosters can increase octane rating, but does octane booster work for improving power and performance? It can work for this, too. However, the answer depends heavily on the car and engine in question.
Again, many factory performance engines are designed for maximum power with higher grade fuels like 93 octane. Many states in the US do not have access to 93 octane, though. Using octane booster to increase from 91 octane to 93 could indeed show power and performance gains, for example. Even if your car wasn’t optimized for higher octane fuels you may still see some minor gains (and better engine safety via less chance of autoignition). That’s not always the case, and whether or not octane booster works varies for each car and engine.
Uses For Performance & Tuning
When tuning and modding your car octane becomes very important. With higher octane, tuners are able to tweak things like ignition advance to improve power output. It would be riskier to do such things with lower octane gasoline that is less resistant to detonation. As such, if you’re tuning your vehicle for more octane then octane boosters may help make this possible.
However, while it can be effective we don’t recommend always relying on octane booster to accomplish this. The better option is tuning for the octane that is readily available. Or go to local race shops and pick up race gas or high octane solutions there. If you’re in a pinch then octane booster may be a good thing to keep around; we just don’t love the idea of relying on it for the long-term.
When Not To Use Octane Booster
Generally, octane booster is safe to test and use. Ensure you’re picking up quality, name-brand products, and that it’s safe for your specific engine (it almost always is). You may not notice any performance benefits at all, or you may feel a drastic increase. Some of it may be the placebo effect, so dyno testing is really the most effective way to see if there is any noticeable performance benefit.
The key takeaway is that octane booster can work but there are some extra considerations. The right octane boosters increase octane rating, but whether or not that helps power is a case by case basis. It’s not a good idea to rely on octane boosters as long-term solutions.
If you want to tune your car for something that you can’t find at a standard fuel pump – 93 octane, 95 octane, 100+ octane, etc – then check with local race shops. They may have high octane race gas that’s a safer, more effective long-term solution. Often, you can simply mix this with normal pump fuels to achieve the desired octane rating.
Top 5 Best Octane Boosters
Now we know octane boosters can be an effective way to increase octane rating of gasoline. Whether or not it actually helps performance depends on many factors, though. Octane doesn’t directly increase the energy per part of gasoline nor does it directly improve power. However, the knock resistance can ensure safer engine operation by reducing the chance of engine knocking.
It also allows the engine to run more ignition advance as well as changing other parameters to improve power. If your car isn’t designed or tuned for higher octane then power gains are likely minimal to non-existent. However, octane booster can be an effective solution if you don’t have access to 91-93+ octane and your car is optimized for this higher octane.
Anyway, without further ado let’s jump in and discuss a few of the best octane boosters around.
1) BOOSTane Professional Octane Booster 32oz
This list of the top 5 octane boosters isn’t really in a specific order of best to worst. However, BOOSTane is our favorite option around. They have a few different product options for gas cars – the Professional or Premium octane booster. Premium comes in a smaller 16oz bottle and doesn’t boost octane quite as much.
As such, our main focus is the 32oz Professional Octane Booster. Their chart shows that roughly 0.9oz per gallon will increase octane rating by 7, so 93 octane would become 100 octane. This means 1 bottle will treat about 34-35 gallons of gasoline (even more if you don’t need that much octane boost). 32oz per gallon will get you all the way up to 116 octane from a 93 octane starting point.
The price is higher than many other octane boosters around. However, BOOSTane packs a serious punch in the 32oz bottle. When factoring in the octane increase it’s actually an excellent value compared to many other octane boosters.
Price: $34.59 (single), $62.29 (2 pack), $124.99 (4 pack)
Buy Here: BOOSTane Professional Octane Booster
BOOSTane Dyno Results
BOOSTane provides this dyno of a stock BMW 335i on their website. Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether this is the N54 twin turbo or N55 single turbo engine. Either way, we’re extremely familiar with both engines. They’re both octane hungry engines with a pretty intelligent and adaptive engine control unit (ECU). Even without tuning, these engines can quickly recognize higher octane fuels and increase boost targets and other parameters to improve performance.
Here the stock 335i dyno’d 258whp and 283wtq on 93 octane fuel. BOOSTane was used to increase the octane content to 104.5 octane, which boosted the 335i to 285whp and 298wtq. Impressive gains of 27whp and 13wtq. Not everyone should expect results like this. However, many modern cars do have intelligent computers that will pick up on higher octane fuels and make the adjustments for better performance.
Buy Here: BOOSTane 32oz Professional
2) Lucas Oil Octane Boosters
Lucas Oil is a big brand that’s well known for their many oils, fuel treatments, oil additives, and octane booster. You’ll likely see Lucas Oil products all over if you go into any auto shop. Point is – they’re a well known and trusted company in the space.
They have two different sizes for cars: the 5.25oz bottle that treats up to 15 gallons, or a 15oz bottle for up to 25 gallons. Lucas Oil claims this increase octane rating by 30 points (equal to 3 octane). Start with 91 octane, add a full 15oz bottle to 25 gallons, and you’ll end with 94 octane gas.
As such, Lucas Oil doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the previously discussed BOOSTane octane booster. However, this is still a quality product from a trusted brand that’s very easy to use.
Price: $85.92 (12 pack of 15oz bottles)
Buy Here: Lucas Oil Octane Booster 12-Pack
3) Royal Purple Max Boost
Royal Purple is much the same as the previously discussed Lucas Oil. They’re a big brand that makes a lot of various automotive fluids and additives. Royal Purple is another great trusted brand to go with when it comes to octane booster.
The Royal Purple Max Boost product is 16oz and treats up to 25 gallons of fuel. As with Lucas Oil, it also raises octane rating up to 30 points (or 3 octane numbers). It’s a bit more expensive than Lucas Oil, but this octane booster is still an excellent option.
Price: $65.70 (6-pack of 16oz bottles)
Buy Here: Royal Purple Max Boost Octane Booster
4) STP Octane Booster & Fuel Intake System Cleaner
Sticking with the trend, STP is also a well known and trusted brand in this space. The STP octane booster is a two in one product. Not only is it designed to raise octane, but it’s also a fuel intake system cleaner.
However, the downside of being a 2-in-1 is that it isn’t a huge increase in octane rating. STP claims 2-5 point octane increase. Remember, 10 points is equal to 1 full octane. As such, this STP octane booster would only increase octane rating by about 0.2-0.5.
Ultimately, this isn’t the best product around if increasing octane is the ultimate goal. However, it’s still a quality product that may be worth a shot if you could use a bit of fuel intake cleaning too.
Price: $61.99 (12-pack of 5.25oz bottles)
Buy Here: STP Octane Boosters & Fuel Intake System Cleaner
5) Klotz Octane Boosters
Last up is a lesser known octane booster. You likely haven’t heard of Klotz, but they do also offer true race fuel on their website. So, they’re an experienced company when it comes to higher-octane fuels and solutions.
The Klotz octane booster is available in a 1 gallon jug and can boost octane by up to 100 points – or 10 full octane ratings. Each 1oz per gallon of gas will increase octane by 2.5. As such, 4oz per gallon will increase octane rating by 10.
Ultimately, Klotz packs the second biggest punch per oz behind only BOOSTane. You can pick up a 1 gallon jug for about $63 making this octane booster a good value.
Price: $63.06 (1-gallon jug)
Buy Here: Klotz KL-628 Octane Boosters
Octane Booster FAQ
Some of this may be repetitive with the bulk of the article above. However, below we’ll provide some quick and easy answers to common questions about octane boosters.
How Does Octane Booster Work?
Octane boosters work by increasing the octane rating of gasoline. This is accomplished with the use of certain chemicals like MMT, toluene, and trimethylbenzene. Increasing octane can help prevent against engine knocking, and indirectly improve engine power and performance.
How Long Does Octane Booster Last?
Octane booster will last the full tank of gasoline. Once you mix it in, it will increase the octane rating until you’re low on fuel. Next time you fill up you’ll need to add more if you wish to increase octane rating again.
What Cars Respond Best To Octane Boosters?
Many modern, higher compression engines respond the best to octane boosters – especially turbo or supercharged engines. Modern engine computers are generally adaptive and will increase performance with higher octane.
How Often Can You Use It?
We don’t recommend using octane booster with every fill up. It’s also not the best long-term solution to higher octane fuels. Ultimately, you CAN use octane booster all the time, but there could be adverse side effects. The best option if you need high octane for the long-term is mixing race gas from a professional race shop.