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.


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.

You May Also Like

What is ‘Trucks-as-a-Service’?

We talk with Volvo Trucks about the service that aims to ease fleets into making the EV transition.


Certainly, the technology powering electric trucks like the Volvo VNR Electric is intriguing and there’s no doubt that driving an electric truck breathes new, electric life into the hard-working occupation. But what about charging infrastructure and upfront investment costs? Those can be big hurdles for fleets to overcome.

Go inside the Kenworth SuperTruck 2

We detail the specs and technology of the Bullet Train-inspired truck and talk through the equipment that could make it to production.

How autonomous trucks could change fleet operations

The production-ready Volvo VNL Autonomous truck begins to highlight the fleet operational changes to come.

What’s new with the International Trucks eMV electric medium-duty truck

The more truck technology changes and grows, so too does tried-and-true spec’ing and application knowledge.

Focus on EPA GHG Phase 3 emissions regulations

This isn’t just another round of stricter diesel engine emissions.

Other Posts
Navigating fluid options to raise efficiency and reduce downtime

ICE technology is changing, and Valvoline and Cummins say oil plays an important role in your fleet’s efficiency and uptime.

U-POL Raptor High-Temperature Wheel Paint

U-POL’s Raptor High-Temperature Wheel Paint is ideal for alloy, steel and aluminum wheels.

How to avoid engine overheating

Here are the top four reasons why engines overheat, and how you can steer clear of them on your next trip, courtesy of Bar’s Leaks.

NACFE: small depots are ready to scale electrification

Dipping your toes into electrification is one thing, leaping into running 15+ BEVs is another. Though NACFE says for many, the time is right.