Throughout the history of the automobile, dirt, in one form or another, has always been the enemy. It causes engine performance problems, excessive and premature wear of parts and components. In short, dirt is just an overall nuisance. One type of “dirt” that many people fail to take into account is carbon that builds up on engine valves, combustion chambers and pistons. This build-up can result in a host of problems ranging from poor fuel economy to engine misfire.
For many reasons, carbon build-up has become much more of a problem in recent years than it was in the past. Carbon, along with “traditional” dirt, is wreaking havoc in engines, large and small Dirt build-up in the throttle body causes rough idle and other drivability problems. Dirty air filters can reduce fuel economy. And dirty spark plugs can cause engine misfire. But let’s get back to the dirt and carbon deposits inside the engine.
The Effects of Carbon Build Up
Carbon build up in the engine can be found in several locations. These include on the fuel injectors; on the intake valves, on the top of the piston, on the spark plugs, and in the combustion chamber. Some of the effects of these deposits can be observed by the engine operator, while others cannot.
First of all, engine smoothness will be affected. The engine operator will notice that the engine might start to idle rough, a sure sign of misfiring. Also, engine knock might be heard. Carbon deposits that build up on the piston crown and the combustion chamber can effectively increase the compression ratio. This would require a higher octane fuel, such as upgrading from Regular (87 octane) to Plus (89 octane). Engine operators might also notice some cold start problems, along with a general lack of power, or poor performance from the engine.
Not as obvious are other problems that result from carbon build up. Those noticeable issues mentioned previously are signs of inefficient combustion that increase the emission levels Depending on the age of the engine and the region of the country, this can lead to a failed emissions test. In states where emission testing is done, a failed test will prevent the owner from renewing their license.
Accelerated engine wear can also be a problem. In many cases, such wear goes undetected until a major and costly problem surfaces. Finally, all of these symptoms affect fuel efficiency. And with gasoline prices at record high levels, your customer is getting hit in the wallet, too.