Exploring the Merits of Catch Cans Before Your Car Repair Career
January 24, 2018
When it comes to aftermarket parts, catch cans might not be the most awe-inspiring or glamorous of the bunch—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Catch cans can actually come with some pretty impressive benefits, and are more than a little recommended for direct injection engines.
But what do catch cans accomplish, and how is it useful? To find out why exactly their use is merited in the first place, and why it may be worth installing one in some cars, keep reading!
A Quick Overview on How Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Systems Work
Engines are able to power cars forward when a mixture of compressed fuel and air is ignited in the engine’s combustion chamber. However, during this essential process, some of that oil and gas mixture inevitably escapes into the engine’s crankcase. If this escaped mixture, also called blowby, had nowhere to go, it would create immense pressure within the crankcase, which could lead to oil leaks or seal damage.
To avoid this pressure problem, positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) systems were designed to allow the blowby to escape, be rerouted to the intake, and reused. As professionals with a car repair career know, that’s the standard setup for most engines on the road.
Catch Cans Come Into Play to Collect Released Oil Mist
Unfortunately, while rerouting and reusing oil mist might sound like a good idea, it comes with one important downside. When being reused, the oil present in blowby can settle along an engine’s intake system and potentially wreak havoc, as it gunks it up until it looks like a clogged artery. Left unchecked, this buildup has the potential to lead to some serious problems. This is where oil catch cans come in, collecting the oil and allowing for the passage of less dirty air back into the intake.
Pros With a Car Repair Career Know the Merits of Having a Catch Can Installed
Without a catch can, oil buildup is more likely to occur, which can lead to many different problems. If contaminants such as oil or other buildup do make their way into the combustion process, for example, pre-ignition can happen in the chamber. This creates engine knock, where an additional combustion occurs in addition to the one created by the spark plug.
Over time, this can damage crucial components such as pistons and cylinder walls. If the engine gets damaged in this way, it may produce even more blowby, creating a dangerous feedback loop. Grads of a mechanic program know that catch cans can therefore really come in handy. Preventing the building up of sticky oil residue all along the intake valves, in short, improves engine life and increases efficiency.
Why Aren’t Catch Cans Standard?
If catch cans are so useful, you might wonder, then why is it that car manufacturers don’t automatically install them in? It turns out that while catch cans do come with plenty of benefits, most of those benefits have the biggest impact on cars with direct injection engines.
Direct fuel injection brings fuel directly into the combustion chamber, which means that intake valves don’t have fuel passing over them. Instead, any blowby that makes its way onto the intake valves is likely to stay put and accumulate, making catch cans that prevent this from happening especially useful. For other cars, though, the flow of air and gas over the intake valves helps to clear away any caked on gunk. As a result, catch cans are a little less necessary for many vehicles. Combine that with the fact that catch cans need to be drained from time to time, and it’s not all that surprising that many drivers don’t bother with the added expense and trouble.
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