What Is Sea Foam And How Do You Use It?

Sea Foam offers some different products that you can use for your car. Here's exactly what Sea Foam is and how you can use it in your car.

Sea Foam was initially developed as a two-stroke marine (“Sea”) engine fuel treatment in the 1930s and 40s. Now, the brand has expanded to a whole range of additives suited to different purposes.

It’s a series of petroleum-based engine oil and fluid additives. The most popular one – the type most people mean when they say “Sea Foam” – is Sea Foam Motor Treatment.

There are currently six automotive additive products available from Sea Foam. These include the list below.

Note that Sea Foam has more available, such as Marine Pro. This is a list of their automotive additive products only.

  • Sea Foam Motor Treatment
  • High Mileage
  • Sea Foam Spray
  • IC5 Fuel Injector Cleaner
  • Trans Tune
  • Ultimate Oil Stabilizer

Table of ContentsShow

Dealing With Sea Foam Cynicism

Sea Form Motor Treatment

Sea Foam splits the automotive industry in two, so I will first clear things up.

Some people really aren’t big fans of Sea Foam. Much of this stigma stems from a big misunderstanding.

Sea Foam was originally designed as an additive for a failing outboard motor. These two-stroke engines worked very definitely compared to our modern four-stroke automotive motors.

Since then, though, the formula used in Sea Foam has changed dramatically. Many are led astray by the false assumption that it’s still the same as it was decades ago.

Some people don’t like additives, claiming they aren’t financially worthwhile. The jury’s still out on this one. Still, studies show they extend an engine’s lifespan by protecting individual components.

Sea Foam is at least worth a try before you condemn it.

How To Use Sea Foam

Sea Foam

The instructions for using Sea Foam come with the product. Don’t be a DIY enthusiast – do what you’re told!

Each Sea Foam product needs to be used in a slightly different way. Following the advice you find on the internet might be incorrect or outdated and could even lead to deeper problems.

Here are the instructions for each Sea Foam automotive additive.

Before using any fuel additives, turn your engine off and leave the car in Park.

How To Use Sea Foam Motor Treatment

Sea Foam Motor Treatment is an additive for either the fuel tank or the oil.

When poured into the fuel tank, it cleans deposits out and lubricates the system. This includes the lines, injectors (or carburetor, if you have an old car), and intake valves. It also lubricates the upper parts of the cylinders.

Used in the oil, Sea Foam helps liquefy sludge and gunk buildup, helping your engine run more smoothly. It’ll clean oil control rings, VVT solenoids, and actuators, removing deposits from the system.

Don’t use it in the oil more than once per oil change. It’s best to use it before an oil change so all the deposits are removed from the system.

Finally, you can use Sea Foam Motor Treatment to stabilize fuel in storage. This helps reduce vaporization.

How To Use Sea Foam Motor Treatment In The Gas Tank

Car Gas Tank

Sea Foam Motor Treatment can be used in either gasoline or diesel systems.

Take a large funnel and insert the spout into the filler neck. Pour Sea Foam down the funnel and directly into the tank. 

Only pour a little at a time to avoid spilling any.

In normal circumstances, use 1 ounce of Sea Foam to 1 gallon of fuel.

You need two or more ounces per gallon to clean your fuel system effectively. There’s no limit, though. The more you use, the more effective the cleaning process will be. Nothing in Sea Foam Motor Treatment will harm any gas or diesel components.

Pour it in when your tank is low. This forces it through the system more efficiently, with a more significant cleaning impact.

How To Use Sea Foam Motor Treatment In The Oil

Again, using Sea Foam Motor Treatment in the oil is as simple as pouring it in.

Remove the oil filler cap and use a funnel to ensure you don’t spill any. Pour in 1 ounce for every 1 quart of oil.

You’ll find the exact amount of oil your car takes in the owner’s manual. Most cars take between 5 and 6 quarts.

How To Use Sea Foam Motor Treatment To Stabilize Fuel In A Stored Car

Sea Foam Image

You simply add the Sea Foam Motor Treatment to the fuel tank. Use a funnel so you don’t spill any.

Pour 1 ounce (or more) for every 1 quart of fuel in your tank. Next, run the engine for a bit to ensure the additive gets through the system.

It should protect your car for at least two years of storage.

How To Use Sea Foam Motor Treatment High Mileage

Sea Foam Motor Treatment High Mileage is for vehicles over 75,000 miles.

Sea Foam recommends using the High Mileage version of Motor Treatment every 3,000 miles.

Follow the same instructions as above. It can be used in fuel or oil just the same.

How To Use Sea Foam Spray

Sea Foam Spray is best left to professional mechanics. It’s a complicated process, and you could damage the MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor.

Sea Foam Spray is designed for use in the upper parts of your engine that fuel cleaners don’t reach. This means the throttle plate, bushings, intake manifold, and valves.

(The intake valves in direct-injection engines aren’t cleaned by fuel additives because the fuel never goes past them.)

It’s designed for (and therefore safe for) all two- and four-stroke gas engines. Don’t use it for diesel!

As well as not using it in a diesel engine, ensure you don’t spray onto the MAF sensor. You also shouldn’t use an OBD II scan tool to control the revs via the bypass valve.

Using Sea Foam Spray is a more complex process. You’ll also need a friend to sit in the driver’s seat.

Read the instructions before using Sea Foam Spray. You might damage your car otherwise!

How To Use Sea Foam Fuel Injector Cleaner

Sea Foam Injector Cleaner

The IC5 Fuel Injector Cleaner is specially designed to clean out your fuel injectors. It’s for gasoline engines only – not diesel.

Open the bottle and push the neck straight into the filler part of your tank. The long neck means you can pour it straight in without needing a funnel.

Pour in the entire contents. It’s best to do this when your tank is low to improve the cleaning effectiveness.

Sea Foam recommends adding the IC5 Injector Cleaner every time you fill up for the best performance. Most people won’t find this a cost-effective option.

Note that this product contains Benzene, which causes cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm.

How To Use Sea Foam Trans Tune

Sea Foam Trans Tune is formulated for most types of automatic transmission. Get in touch with Sea Foam or your car manufacturer to check before you use it.

Sea Foam Trans Tune removes varnish from transmission valve bodies and shift solenoids. It also dissolves deposits that can damage the transmission over time and stop it from working efficiently.

  • Use 16 ounces (1 pint) of Trans Tune for a pre-flush clean. You must drive at least 30 miles before replacing the transmission fluid.
  • As a lifetime conditioner, you should add Trans Tune when the fluid is poured in. In essence, it substitutes part of the ATF.

You can use it as a pre-flush cleaner before getting a fluid change. It’s also effective as a conditioner, keeping the ATF in good condition.

How To Use Sea Foam Ultimate Oil Stabilizer (OS32)

Car Engine

Ultimate Oil Stabilizer is designed to control sludge buildup and protect your engine.

It’s a little more complicated to use. It must be poured in during an oil change.

You (or the mechanic) must substitute 1 quart of engine oil for 1 quart of Sea Foam OS32.

Use it for gasoline engines only.

Note that OS32 contains toluene, a reproductive health risk.

Rounding Up

Sea Foam is an excellent additive for most engines. But yours might not like it.

Be especially cautious if you have a diesel engine. Sea Foam Motor Treatment will be fine, but other products might have a negative effect.

Overall, most motorists might benefit from the occasional use of Sea Foam Motor Treatment in their fuel system.

Trans Tune is also a good supplement for the transmission. Ask a mechanic to add it when you next have an ATF flush.

Sea Foam isn’t going to magically repair a failing engine, but it might have a significant impact. If your car is sluggish, adding these products is much cheaper than an in-depth diagnosis or engine rebuild.

Even if it doesn’t work, you won’t lose much. Sea Foam Motor Treatment costs around $10 per pint (16 ounces) – if you bulk buy. Expect to pay at most $20 for one bottle.

It’s worth a go!

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Benjamin Kitchen

Ben is an automotive author from England. With experience in a fast-fit garage, he's an IMI-qualified light vehicle technician. He aims to help drivers worldwide with common automotive problems. You’ll often find him working with his 1.2 Vauxhall Corsa – it may have a tiny engine, but in eight years it's never once let him down!