The hidden threats to light-duty gasoline engine life, performance

The hidden threats to light-duty gasoline engine life, performance

How engine deposits impact gas engines, and what you can do about it.

The temperature inside a combustion chamber of a gasoline engine is anywhere from 265° and 475°. If you think that’s hot, that’s actually a lower temperature thanks to the cooling system and lubrication system. That’s right, even engine oil plays a role in dissipating heat within the engine. Yet, there are forces working against those systems to increase engine temperatures and reduce life and engine performance.

Engine deposits are carbonaceous compounds that form at high temperatures within the engine—particularly around the piston areas where combustion events cause extreme heat. These deposits can manifest as hard carbon build-ups or as thinner varnish-like coatings. As these compounds adhere to metal surfaces within the engine, they create a layer of insulation that hampers heat dissipation.

The primary danger of these naturally occurring deposits lies in their insulating properties. Ideally, metal surfaces within an engine should remain exposed to efficiently transfer and dissipate heat. When deposits form, they act as a barrier, trapping heat within the engine. This not only leads to increased operating temperatures but also escalates wear among moving parts.

“Deposits also cause friction,” said Dr. Michael Warholic, global technology director, Valvoline Global Operations. Think about horsepower and fuel economy: If you don’t have the proper clearances of lubrication, deposits increase the distance between metal surfaces and can really cause problems. Ultimately, it leads to the shortening of the life of an engine or minimizing its efficiency.”

For fleet managers, particularly those overseeing light-duty commercial fleets engaged in severe start-stop operations, such as delivery vans and utility trucks, it’s important to understand that these vehicles seldom operate under ideal-for-the-engine conditions, frequently starting and stopping, which exacerbates the formation of deposits. To help keep light-duty gas engines running productively, Warholic presented several options. First was Valvoline’s new Restore and Protect oil that is designed to combat the adverse effects of deposits by preventing their formation and removing existing build-ups. The oil is a blend of refined base oils, viscosity modifiers, and a unique mix of additives, including detergents and anti-wear components. These ingredients work synergistically to maintain cleanliness and protect the engine’s vital components.

The other was an oil analysis program that can help you understand what’s happening inside the engine.

“We love data,” Warholic said. “We have our Valvoline helpline, and we have test kits. We’ll send you a little bottle that you can put oil in and send back to us for analysis. We can look at the wear metals, the oxidation, the viscosity change–we call it an autopsy. You can get a lot from that analysis and understand that your oil is either doing the right job or it isn’t.”

Watch the video for a deeper dive into defeating engine oil deposits.

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No script? No plan? No problem. Welcome to Fleet Equipment Unscripted—the video interview series that connects you with the greatest minds in the heavy-duty trucking world. Fleet Equipment Unscripted is sponsored by Hendrickson.

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