Fuel System Cleaning

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How important is fuel system cleaning? It is important to know what your competition is providing. Are the dealers performing an actual fuel system cleaning?  There are so many things to think about, especially when it comes to what is best for your customers. You want your customers returning because you separate yourself with the level of services and benefits you offer and the education you provide. You want your customers to trust you!

With that said, today’s engines must meet the conflicting demands for power and performance, while also providing improved fuel economy and meeting reduced emission requirements. In other words, we want our engines to provide power and performance while also reducing fuel consumption and emissions. This puts pressure on the manufacturers, but opens up opportunities for you to protect your customers’ investments.

Efforts to meet these demands produce engines with precision designs and close tolerances, creating increased vulnerability to dirt and deposit problems.  In today’s engines, deposits can quickly interrupt the precise measuring flow and combustion of fuel and air, causing a multitude of problems. This especially happens in today’s GDI or direct injection engines.  When you see a before and after picture of the cleaned fuel injector, know the opening in the injector is only as large as a human hair.  So it takes only a 5-percent restriction to cause a problem.  To clean the intake system and combustion chamber, a complete fuel system cleaning should be performed on regular basis. 

Gums, varnish and carbon deposits in today’s engines can cause a multitude of problems including:

·                Hard starts

·                Rough idling

·                Hesitation

·                Pinging and knocking

·                Loss of power

·                Increased fuel consumption

·                Increased emissions

A survey commissioned by Allied Signal Automotive found that 80 percent of US motorists start their cars at least three times per day. Sixty-three percent report average daily trips of fewer than 20 miles, with 57 percent driving in stop-and-go traffic. 

According to SAE paper No. 861533, these driving conditions can quickly cause fuel injector deposits, “…vehicles causing customer complaints were driving several trips each day, driving short distances in city traffic followed by a hot soak with the engine off.”

This type of driving results in today’s engines having frequent hot soak periods, therefore increasing intake valve deposits.  These intake valve deposits absorb intake fuel and restrict airflow into the combustion chamber, reducing combustion efficiency, power, performance and increasing exhaust emissions.  According to Chevron’s SAE paper, Performance Robbing Aspects of Intake Valve Deposits, SAE No. 872116, “Valve deposits cause hard starts, stalls, rough idle, hesitation, stumble and backfire.” 


The Water and Ethanol Problem

Water-laden gasoline is a fact of life.  Temperature changes produce condensation in storage tanks and vehicle gas tanks.  Add the accumulation of moisture during storage, pumping and transport and you understand why water related problems occur.

To quote fuel and combustion expert, Moshe Tal, “Rust and corrosion is another problem caused by the presence of water in storage tanks, pipelines, manifold systems and in vehicles’ fuel tanks and systems. In cool or cold weather, ice may form in fuel lines, fuel pumps and intake systems, which can result in clogging the fuel system.”

Water has high surface tension and, therefore, minimizes surface area in fuel by maintaining large round droplets that cause problems.  Hard starts, hesitation and stalls all can be caused by water accumulation in gasoline.

In fuel injection systems:

·           Fuel lubricates the fuel pump and injectors.  Water is a poor lubricant and washes away existing lubrication, causing increased friction and premature failure.

·           Since water does not compress, water droplets can score or split injectors.

·           Water promotes the growth of algae in fuel.

·           Water corrosion causes premature fuel system component failure.

·           Water freezes in cold climates, causing engine stoppage and distress to the motorist.

·           Too much water can slow the flow of fuel through the fuel filter by absorbing into the filtering media and reducing the effective filtering media surface area.

·           Today’s ethanol gasoline increases water condensation problems, because ethanol is hygroscopic — meaning it draws water.  We need fuel system cleanings that will help eliminate the water problem.

So how important is a fuel system cleaning?  Well, if you clean the outside of the vehicle why would you not want to clean the inside?  If a fuel system cleaning is performed regularly and properly, your customer will receive the benefits they deserve! (Thanks to Owen Heatwole, tech services manager, for writing fuel system cleaning information.)

AMBER KOSSAK is president and CEO of Solid Start, manufacturer of True Brand Products.  She has been in the automotive industry for almost 20 years and is serving on the AOCA board of directors. She can be contacted at: kossak@solidstart.biz  For more information please visit: www.solidstart.biz

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