Car & Truck Engine Life
Many readers of my automotive technology articles send emails asking for advice about how to take care of their cars. Among these inquiries, the top three questions are:
* How can I make my car use less fuel?
* How can I get my power out of my car’s engine?
* How can I make my car’s engine last longer?
I’ve answered the first two questions at some length through a series of articles I’ve written previously. To see them, skim through an index of articles by clicking here.
Today I will focus on the last question – how to make your car and truck engine last longer.
While this isn’t true everywhere on the globe, in the US it seems the automotive industry has us car owners convinced we have to throw away our car when the odometer hits 100,000 miles (~160,000 km). In a society weaned these last few generations on throw-away consumerism, resigning oneself to buying a new car every 100K is an assumed – albeit expensive – reality.
For those of us who refuse to part ways with our iron steed so easily, we might consider having our engine replaced. If the car’s chassis (frame) is sturdy enough to go another 100,000 miles, getting a new or refurbished engine may be the way to go.
But what if you didn’t have to replace your engine due to wear and tear? You would just keep on driving confidently, knowing your engine would probably retain its integrity well past the life span of your car’s body and frame. Is this scenario possible? Most certainly. I’m doing it right now.
The trick is to get started as early as possible to save your car or truck engine’s life.
I have an early 2000’s model Jetta with a diesel engine. When I first got the car used, it had 15,000 miles on it. It got 43 MPG in town, and about 48 to 52 MPG on the road. After more than 200,000 miles on it, it gets 42 mpg in town and at least 47 on a long stretch. I am on my second set of fuel injectors that I’ve driven with for more than 100,000 miles. They are probably somewhat worn. When I replace them soon, I will probably get an efficiency somewhere close to my brand-new MPG.
While fuel efficiency isn’t the issue here, engine longevity due to wear and tear is. At 200,000 miles, most cars are a sure candidate for engine failure. Mine – I can say confidently – isn’t. Why? Mostly because of one cool gadget:
* Bypass Oil Filter
With no moving parts, this low-tech technology has been around for decades. Yet hardly anyone knows anything about it! Probably because the car and truck industry wants you not to buy it. They’d much rather have you buy a new car!
Anyway, here’s the scoop on this gizmo…
Bypass Oil Filter
A bypass oil filter is just that: an engine oil filter that bypasses your regular oil system to take over where your regular oil fails you. I’ve written about bypass oil filters in great detail already – click here to have a look.
In a nutshell, a bypass oil filter system does a job your regular oil filter cannot do – capture more dirt and grit. Most everyone knows that grit is what destroys engines. Over time, dirt particles in your engine oil make their way throughout your engine, wear it down, and eventually are a significant cause to your engine’s failure. For this reason, your car mechanic tells you to change your oil frequently. Changing the oil flushes out that old gritty oil.
But if you car’s engine already has a filter, then why would you need to keep changing the oil? Why doesn’t that filter clean out the oil? Well… it does. But it doesn’t do a very good job of it.
It has to do with how that stock oil filter is designed.
Oil grit is small, but not so small that it cannot damage your car or truck engine.
The diameter of engine oil grit particles is measured in a small metric unit call a nanometer – or “nm”. While oil grit comes in many sizes, your engine’s stock oil filter clears your oil of the big gritty stuff down to about 40 nm. After that, good luck.
Big Gary Puts His Foot Down
According to my mechanic friend Gary, what’s heinous about having your engine oil cleaned down to only 40 nm is that this is the size is what does the most damage to your engine. Grit right at 40 nm or somewhat smaller is a perfect fit for the spaces between moving engine parts in most car and truck engines.
Says Big Gary, “When grit gets into these spaces, they start scraping and chugging around, inside, and between your engine parts. After about 100,000 miles worth of this nonsense – in spite of religious oil changes – your engine is going to wear out. Impending engine failure…”
To counter this flaw in so-called automotive technology, the oil bypass filter steps up to the plate.
The oil bypass filter lets your regular oil filter do its job, but then steals a trickle of freshly filtered oil away from your engine, and it filters it even more. When it’s done, it throws that twice-filtered oil back into your engine.
So efficient are these bypass filters – like the one I use – that they remove grit particles down to 1 nm. Particles any smaller than 1 nm are harmless to your engine, and can swim around in your oil all they want without harmful effect.
Because the oil it bypasses away from your engine is only a trickle, after maybe ten minutes of driving all of your engine’s oil has been filtered by both the stock filter and the bypass filter. Because the cleaning process is so thorough, it’s almost like having an oil change every 10 minutes you run your engine!
Too Good To Be True? Nope! So Good It Is True!
Does this sound bogus? Well, no… And I have proof!
My car’s engine is well past 200,000 miles and it still gets great mileage, and I can smoke out a road if I push the pedal down. When I have my mechanic (not Gary) open it up to change out the serpentine belt every 100,000 miles, he marvels at how clean the interior of the engine is. He further gasps at how little wear the engine’s moving parts are showing. After 200,000 actual miles of driving, my mechanic states my car’s effective wear and tear is around 40,000 miles.
At this rate, my car’s engine will outlive my car’s chassis.
So much for needing to buy a new car or truck!