When and Why Pros With Careers in the Auto Industry Recommend Engine Decarbonization

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Decarbonization is a type of engine service that many vehicle owners in Canada will have been offered in recent years. The process involves either using special cleaning chemicals or physically wiping and scrubbing away minute carbon deposits from parts of the vehicle engine, including engine valves, manifolds, and the cylinder head.

These particles can prevent the engine from running smoothly, which is why removing them can be a good step to improving an engine’s functionality. But where do these particles come from? How serious are they, and when do skilled auto mechanics recommend this process should be carried out?

Direct Fuel Injection Is Driving the Need for Decarbonization

As many students completing an auto mechanic program might know, modern cars are all about efficiency. Car makers have spent countless hours coming up with new and better ways for engines to run, and in recent years, these steps have included the prevalence of engines (particularly turbocharged engines) capable of direct gasoline fuel injection (GDI). In fact, industry sources have indicated that by 2020, approximately 25 per cent of all cars are expected to utilize GDI.

Gasoline fuel injection directly injects fuel into the combustion chamber, allowing for increased fuel efficiency and power. However, this new process ensures that gasoline bypasses traditional intake valves, meaning these elements are no longer so directly subject to the cleaning elements contained in fuel. The minute traces of carbon produced by the combustion process can thus more easily build up on engine components over time. This build-up can start off as a pretty harmless problem, but eventually become a crippling issue for engine efficiency.

Mileage a Real Indication for Professionals Who’ve Completed Auto Service Programs

The decarbonization process, be it chemical or manual, is best used as an occasional preventive treatment, or as a prompt response to concrete issues that are manifesting. Brand new vehicles burning standard gasoline, for example, simply haven’t built up enough road time to truly merit the treatment. Many mechanics will approve of a decarbonization treatment around the 50,000km mark, particularly if it’s a GDI vehicle.

However, if the car is exhibiting symptoms of engine clogging, with low power and a dive in fuel efficiency, it could be an indication that significant build-up is present and that prompt action should be taken. Should graduates of auto service programs be able to visually confirm the presence of a substantial build-up, including the telltale sign of a heavily coated exhaust, then swift action should be recommended to the owner. If a vehicle has been utilizing gas of a lower quality or purity than standards stipulate, this kind of situation is more likely to occur.

Grads of Auto Mechanic Programs Face a Choice Between Chemical and Physical Decarbonization

There are a range of professional opinions on what type of decarbonization process to opt for. Typically, in cases of prevention or very minute build-up, the chemical process of decarbonization is employed. This can involve adding a special cleaning mixture to fuel, and then feeding this mix into the car via a supply unit. The engine is run for a period of time and the mix targets build-ups, which then pass out of the vehicle.

In cases where the engine has been exhibiting performance issues due to carbon deposits, the physical process is more commonly used. This involves opening the cylinder and brushing and cleaning affected valves and manifolds, plus any affected exhaust elements. This is a more thorough process that can take a considerable amount of time and labour—but is often the best course of action for a vehicle that is suffering due to these deposits.

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