The engine in your vehicle is called an internal combustion engine because gasoline burns inside it to provide power to the wheels.


Still, while gasoline is essential to the process, it can also cause problems: the carbon from combustion can build up on vital engine parts and reduce efficiency.


Gasoline companies blend in cleaning additives to reduce this, including Shell and its nitrogen-enriched fuels.


While it may sound like more of a performance additive, the gaseous nitrogen is part of a “package” of cleaning additives. Its role is to improve solubility and keep the additives properly blended. Since you can’t shake your vehicle’s tank to mix the cleaning additives with the fuel, the nitrogen is there to keep them suspended and prevent them from settling.


“Our V-Power has five times the amount of additives required for premium gasoline,” says Shell’s fuels project engineer Bobby Bowden. “The additive is in all three grades; the proportion is what’s different.”

Engines produce power when a mixture of gasoline and air is compressed, and then combusted with a spark plug. The fuel/air mixture gets into the engine’s combustion chamber, and the resulting exhaust gets out, when metal valves open and close.

Carbon has a tendency to stick to these hot valves, and worse, that initial carbon build-up becomes a magnet for more. Add liquid from condensation, and it becomes a sticky, tar-like substance commonly known as engine gunk.

Running a good-quality fuel with cleaning additives will prevent deposits in the first place, and if the engine isn’t too far gone, can clean them off.

“We’ve proven that with (gunk) created in 8,000 kilometres, you can clean it with three to five tanks of V-Power,” Bowden says.