The Best Engine Starting Fluids (Review) in 2020

Starting your engine in extreme weather conditions can be difficult. Continually turning over the engine to get it to start...

Best Choice
best starting fluid
Gumout 5072866 Starting Fluid
Premium Pick
niteo fluid
Niteo Motor Medic M3815-12PK Thrust Starting Fluid
Best Value
heet fluid
HEET SA16-12 Starting Fluid

Starting your engine in extreme weather conditions can be difficult. Continually turning over the engine to get it to start can put additional pressure on several components. This, in turn, causes excessive wear to the starter and ignition. One way to avoid this and to achieve quicker engine starting in any condition is to use starting fluid. However, starting fluid is extremely volatile and highly combustible. This means that care needs to be taken in its use. It is also important to ensure you purchase one that is suitable for your engine type. Our panel of car experts is here to help. They have compiled a list of the six best engine starting fluids to point you in the right direction.

The Best Engine Starting Fluid

Gumout 5072866 Starting Fluid is designed specifically for gasoline engines. The fluid inhibits corrosion and lubricates the upper cylinders. This helps create faster and smoother starting in all weather conditions, including high humidity and extreme cold. Gumout Starting Fluid should be sprayed directly into either the carburetor, air intake, or air cleaner for a few seconds, before starting the engine. 

Key Features
  • Designed for gasoline engines
  • Contains an upper cylinder lubricant
  • Contains a corrosion inhibitor
  • Creates faster and smoother starting
  • Suitable for use in all weather conditions
  • Not suitable for use with diesel-fueled vehicles
Specification
  • Brand Gumout
  • Model 5072866
  • Weight 0.16 ounces

Prestone AS237-6PK Premium Starting Fluid is designed to be safe and effective in both diesel and gasoline engines. Its high ethyl ether formula ensures flammability and means it is ideal for starting engines quickly in cold weather. The fluid is completely effective at -65 Fahrenheit. Preston Premium Starting Fluid helps prevent excessive wear on starters and batteries and can be used to start a flooded engine.

Key Features
  • Designed for gasoline and diesel engines
  • High ethyl ether formula
  • Effective down to -65F
  • Prevents excessive wear on starters and batteries
  • Suitable for use with a flooded engine
  • Complies with federal low-sulfur requirements
Specification
  • Brand Prestone
  • Model AS237-6PK
  • Weight 5.3 pounds

Polar 82 – 12PK Premium Starting Fluid is suitable for both diesel and gasoline engines. It is formulated with a high concentration of ethyl ethers and works effectively even in harsh winter weather conditions. Polar 82 Premium Starting Fluid starts all types of engines quickly and effectively.

Key Features
  • Designed for gasoline and diesel engines
  • High ethyl ether formula
  • Effective even in harsh winter weather conditions
Specification
  • Brand Polar Products
  • Model 82-12PK
  • Weight 10.95 pounds

Niteo Motor Medic M3515 Instant Starting Fluid is suitable for use in gasoline engines and diesel engines that do not have glow plugs. The high ether content helps to start engines quickly and means that the fluid is effective to -65 degrees Fahrenheit. Niteo Motor Medic Instant Starting Fluid also contains upper cylinder lubricants.

Key Features
  • Designed for gasoline and most diesel engines
  • High ether content
  • Effective to -65F
  • Contains upper cylinder lubricants
Specification
  • Brand Niteo
  • Model M3515
  • Weight 1 pounds

HEET SA 16-12 Starting Fluid is suitable for use in both diesel and gasoline engines. It is also safe for use with all catalytic converters and oxygen sensors. HEET Starting Fluid has a high ether content. It also contains a corrosion inhibitor and upper cylinder lubricants. The fluid helps reduce battery and starter wear.

Key Features
  • Designed for gasoline and diesel engines
  • High ether content
  • Contains upper cylinder lubricants
  • Contains a corrosion inhibitor
  • Safe for use with catalytic converters and oxygen sensors
Specification
  • Brand HEET
  • Model SA16-12
  • Weight 13.6 ounces

Niteo Motor Medic M3815-12PK Thrust starting Fluid is specifically designed for safe, fast, and effective engine starting in extreme cold weather conditions. It is suitable for use in both gasoline and diesel engines and is effective to -65 degrees Fahrenheit. Niteo Motor Medic Thrust Starting Fluid contains corrosion inhibitors and reduces ignition and battery wear during extremely cold weather.

Key Features
  • Designed for gasoline and diesel engines
  • Effective to -65F
  • Contains corrosion inhibitors
  • Reduces ignition and battery wear
  • Ideal for extreme cold conditions
Specification
  • Brand Niteo
  • Model M3815-12PK
  • Weight 10.9 pounds
Best Engine Starting Fluid Buying Guide & FAQ

Buying the right engine starting fluid for your vehicle is essential. While knowing the best starting fluids that are available is a great place to start, it is important to get as much information about the product and how it works as possible. In this section of the guide, we look at starting fluids in more detail and discuss what you need to look for when buying a starting fluid. We also explore how to use starting fluid on a fuel injected car and whether starting fluid is bad for gas engines. Finally, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about starting fluid.

car engine fluid

What to Look for When Buying a Starting Fluid

If you have a vehicle that runs on gasoline or diesel, then getting it started can be difficult. This is particularly true if the vehicle has been sat idle for some time or you are trying to start it on a very cold morning. Continually turning the engine over always runs the risk of flooding the engine and damaging the starter and ignition. Starting fluid can solve this problem, but it is a combination of highly volatile ingredients and it is essential that you buy one that is suitable for your type of engine.

While the great majority of starting fluids are suitable for use with cars that run on gasoline, they are not all suitable for diesel vehicles. Of the starting fluids that are suitable for use in diesel engines, not all can be used with diesel cars that have glow plugs. Knowing your vehicle and its engine are therefore vital before you purchase a starting fluid.

Another consideration is whether the fluid can be used with a flooded engine. If you have already undertaken several attempts to start your vehicle, then you may have already flooded the engine. Some starting fluids can be used under these conditions, while others are very clear that they should not be used. Check the instructions on the can carefully before using.

Knowing the ether content is also important. In most starting sprays ether or diethyl ether is the main combustion component. The higher the ether content, the easier it is to create a spark with the starting fluid. This means that high ether starting fluids are the fluids of choice in extremely cold or humid conditions. However, it also means that they are the most volatile and require the most care during their use.

Some starting fluids also contain corrosion inhibitors and upper cylinder lubricants. These can help reduce issues with your starter over the longer term, reducing the need to continually use starting fluid. However, these additives need to be taken into consideration when using the starter fluid to ensure your safety.

How to Use Starting Fluid on a Fuel Injected Car

Starting fluid is most commonly used in a carbureted engine. In such a vehicle the starting fluid is sprayed either into the carburetor bore, the spark plug hole, or the engine intake near the air filter.

A fuel injection system replaces the carburetor. Instead of relying on suction that is created by intake air, a fuel injection system atomizes fuel under pressure through a small nozzle. While starting fluid can still be used it needs to be sprayed into the injectors. Only use a short spray of a couple of seconds and ensure that it is carefully directed to where it needs to go.

If you are unsure where to direct the spray, then refer to your car’s manual, the manufacturer’s information on the starting fluid, or a trusted mechanic. Starting fluid is highly flammable and using too much or using it in the wrong place can severely damage your engine.

adding starting fluid

Is Starting Fluid Bad for Gas Engines?

There is little agreement on whether using starting fluid is bad for your gas engine. Some experts suggest that its volatility means that it should be avoided at all costs. Others suggest that used correctly, starting fluid is not bad for a gas engine. However, if your car continually will not start, it is important to find out the cause. Using too much starting fluid or using it incorrectly can damage your engine, cause an explosion, and potentially damage your health.

Best Engine Starting Fluid FAQ:

Q: What is a starting fluid?

A: Starting fluid is a liquid that is used to start car engines, either when there is a problem with the ignition system or during extreme weather conditions, including extreme cold and high humidity. Starting fluid contains highly explosive chemicals, usually ether. This has a lower combustion point that either gasoline or diesel, so it ignites easier and generates more force to get the engine to turn over.

However, because starting fluid is so combustible, great care needs to be taken in its use. It should only be sprayed in short bursts and used in very small amounts. It should only be sprayed in specific areas and used only as directed by the manufacturer. Continual use can mask or exacerbate problems with your engine, so you should take the time to investigate why your car won’t start and check whether it is an engine problem that needs to be fixed.

Q: Can I use starting fluid on a 2 stroke?

A: Starting fluid is generally not recommended for use on a 2 stroke engine. Starting fluid does not have lubricating qualities unless they are added to the fluid. Due to the nature of a two-stroke engine lack of lubrication can be damaging. Two stroke engine lubrication is achieved by mixing oil with the fuel. If such engines are started regularly using starting fluid, they do not receive an adequate supply of lubrication to the cylinders and crankshaft.

If the engine hasn’t been started in a while, then the issues that this can cause multiply significantly. Starting fluid is a strong solvent and can strip any residual oil from the cylinder walls and cranks; this further reduces lubrication and causes significant engine damage.

Q: My diesel engine is hard to start on cold mornings, will starting fluid help this problem?

A: Starting fluid can help start a diesel engine on a cold morning as long as the fluid that is being used is compatible with a diesel engine. Not all starting fluids are suitable for diesel engines, so it is important to check the fluid carefully. Even those fluids that are suitable for diesel engines, should not be used in engines that have glow plugs or preheat systems. In these engines, the starting fluid could pre-ignite, leading to engine damage and potentially injuring you.

check car engine

Our Top Pick

Our top pick is Gumout 5072866 Starting Fluid. It is designed specifically for gasoline engines. The fluid inhibits corrosion and lubricates the upper cylinders. This helps create faster and smoother starting in all weather conditions, including high humidity and extreme cold. Gumout Starting Fluid should be sprayed directly into either the carburetor, air intake, or air cleaner for a few seconds, before starting the engine.

Sources:

  1. Starting fluid – Wikipedia
  2. How to Use Starting Fluid – wikiHow