Mechanics Corner: Be Proactive to Protect Your Engine

When fuel prices changed last summer, so did our fueling habits — our driving, however, not so much. Even though the price of fuel reached around twice its prior amount, we still drove more miles than ever before.

When the price of fuel goes up, our eyes tend to gravitate toward the most affordably priced label on the pump. For many of us, the obvious choice for fuel savings is bioethanol, but some who aren’t fuel knowledgeable may worry if it’s the right choice for their vehicle.

Think about all the people who are driven by a lower price point. It’s safe to say that includes most of us, right?

Biofuels were used more in the past 12 months, not only by repeat users but also by people who had previously stuck with non-bioethanol choices. They may have avoided biofuels due to longstanding myths heard through word of mouth or misleading information in the marketing world.

We see a variety of repairs in our shop, from simple tune-ups to major engine repairs and replacements. We tear engines down and inspect them to determine what parts have failed, replace those parts, and get those vehicles back on the road as quickly, affordably, and reliably as we can.

During those repairs, the top failures we see are often caused by oil system failures, which result in engine replacement or major mechanical repairs. Oils have changed in the past decade or so, and manufacturers are changing the specs and weights of oils more than ever before to make sure their engines last, but there is a factor that often goes overlooked: the drivers.

Many of the failures we see are caused by drivers not changing their oil often enough. Can you believe that the average number of miles overdue for an oil change that we see in our shop is 6,000 miles? Combine that with today’s emissions and oils that have very little zinc and ZDDP, and you have a recipe for failure.

The vehicles coming in for tuning issues due to poor drivability conditions that are not oil system-related are usually ignition system item-related parts like coils and spark plugs, which should be regularly maintained but often are not.

What we see the least in the shop and get the fewest calls about on our radio show are fuel system issues. The increased use of bioethanol today has helped to keep engines clean, and we believe it’s why we see fewer failures. Our shops and other shops operated by our colleagues are simply not seeing biofuel failures.

That’s why we continue to recommend choosing bioethanol to save you money, protect your vehicle investment, clean the air we breathe, and keep the availability of American-made biofuel at pumps near you.

The Motor Medics. Under The Hood can be found on a station near you or your favorite podcast site.




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