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5 Car Additives for DIY Maintenance and Repairs

There are a lot of snake-oil car additives on the market promising just about anything you want to hear. (Want better mileage? More power?) Most, but not all, additives are a waste of money. Here are five that are actually worth using.

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CleanerVia Amazon.com

Chevron Techron Fuel Injection Cleaner

If you make a lot of short runs or drive in stop-and-go traffic, you may get better gas mileage and improve engine performance by adding a bottle of fuel system cleaner every 3,000 miles. No need to buy the expensive stuff; $15 or so should do it. Learn more about additives here.

Buy it now on Amazon.

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TabletVia Amazon.com

Bars Leaks Radiator Stop Leak


If you notice coolant puddles on your driveway, check for a cracked radiator or heater hose, or loose clamps. Then check the freeze plugs. If it turns out that your leak is coming from your radiator, try adding a cooling system sealer product. If it works, great! If not, youve gambled away a total of five bucks. Learn how to change your own engine coolant here.

Get this product for your vehicle now.

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AdditiveVia Amazon.com

ZDDPlus Engine Oil Additive


Older engines need additional wear protection. Cars from the early-’80s or before have engines built with high-friction flat tappet lifters, which needa boost of anti-wear additivewith ZDDP (zinc dialkyldithiophosphate. It costs less than $15 a bottle. Don’t use ZDDP additives with a post-’80s enginethe extra ZDDP can damage your catalytic converter. Find out more about motor oil here.

Order this engine oil additive on Amazon.

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TransmissionVia Amazon.com

Lucas Transmission Fix


If youre driving a car with an older transmission with no shifting problems, its worth adding a $10 bottle of fluid conditioner. It bolsters the performance of older nonsynthetic transmission fluids. Skip it if you have a late-model car with synthetic fluid. You can change your car’s transmission fluid yourself.

Buy it now on Amazon.

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GasketVia Amazon.com

Bars Leaks Head Gasket Fix


If you constantly have to top off your coolant but cant find any sign of an external leak, you likely have a leaking head gasket. Its worth trying a sealant before taking the car into the shop for a very expensive head gasket repair. Spend at least $25 on a quality product. It may not work, but if it does, youll save a boatload of money. But be sure topay attention to the directions on the bottle! Did you know you can replace your car’s thermostat yourself? Here’s how.

Get this product today.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The Family Handyman editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Contact us, here.