Extended maintenance schedules neglect GDI health needs
Wichita, Kan.—As vehicle complexities increase, consumer education is one of the greatest challenges to aftermarket businesses, said BG Products’ Technical Service Manager Mike Belluomo.
“New technologies present tremendous advantages, yet they possess lesser-known intrinsic weaknesses affecting vehicle durability and performance,” Belluomo said.
Both consumers and the industry rely on technicians to be those best equipped to offer consumers a balanced education regarding new technologies, associated shortcomings and available service solutions, he said. And to care for the car and the customer, consumer education should begin at the shop level.
“It is a delicate subject to address when the OEM trend for recommending less maintenance is contrary to the problems that result from maintenance that focuses only on warranty liability and not ownership past the warranty,” he said. “Some diplomacy needs to be employed so vehicle owners know how to ensure proper care of their vehicles and don’t rely on neglectful OEM guidelines.”
He said his team works continuously to provide relevant aftermarket solutions for ever-evolving problems associated with new vehicle technology.
“The easy fruit of automotive fuel economy has already been picked over, so any new advances usually involve some give and take,” Belluomo said. “Gasoline direct injection (GDI), for example, offers fuel economy and performance, but causes combustion chamber deposits and high oil consumption.”
Coked oil-feed lines attached to turbochargers or debris pinging off of the turbo, for example, causes failure and therefore an expensive replacement associated with, but not necessarily caused by, the otherwise superior GDI technology, he said.
Short-term gains in fuel economy are eclipsed by high oil consumption – as much as one quart per 1,000 miles – and the deposits that oil creates as it burns in the combustion chamber fouls spark plugs with ash.
“We found that a single component functioning flawlessly, the engine oil, can prevent these failures,” he said. “All loss of turbocharger protection in some way, shape and form is directly related to engine oil quality. Contaminants and debris are generated, at least in part, due to oil quality failure.”
When high oil consumption became the norm for new GDI engines, fuel economy mandates led to compromised piston ring designs, as they aimed to reduce dynamic piston drag within the engine cylinder, Belluomo explained.
By reducing the tension of the piston rings, engineers reduced frictional losses and thus increased fuel economy. However, those thinner, “low tension,” piston rings are more susceptible to getting stuck in place when thin engine oils oxidize and break down.
BG’s two-fold solution addresses both oil-feed line cleanliness, with regular BG EPR use, and a gasoline engine oil fortifier, BG MOA.
“With BG EPR, we can ensure that debris does not accumulate deposits and material debris,” Belluomo said. “Keeping these passages spotlessly clean allows the oil to flow properly, thus cooling and protecting the turbocharger. BG MOA vastly increases the oxidation stability of the oil so that it does not deteriorate under high heat and stress. Extra detergents and acid reducers in BG MOA also protect the oil circulation system by keeping it clean and debris free.”
By designing solutions to the problem’s root cause, BG found it could turn a deteriorating condition into a non-issue.
“We were able to improve the long-term sustainability of the engine’s operation and fuel economy,” he said.
As vehicle designs become increasingly more complex and ever sensitive to adverse changes, Belluomo said it stands to reason that qualified preventive maintenance will become the norm, not the exception.
“The recent exposure of the Volkswagen scandal brings to light that achieving low emissions and high fuel economy is not easily done,” he said. “If it were, you’d never see incidents like that. The fact that they felt they had cheat to satisfy all the conditions mandated by environmental concerns, customer preferences, and government mandates, shows how complex this design matrix really is.”
He said BG Products hopes to reverse the trend of insufficient maintenance by providing resources to teach consumers about how fuel quality, driving habits, climatic conditions, lubrication demands and technology changes all play a part in ensuring proper vehicle care.