Tag Archives: ethanol

FAQs For Classic Vehicle And Street Rod Owners

1: How often should I change my oil?

Quite simply – it depends. This certainly isn’t the ideal answer, but it is the most honest one. Temperature plays a major role in the frequency of necessary oil change intervals. Every 20°F increase in oil temperature beyond 220°F shortens the life of the oil by 50%. This means cars that run very high oil temps will have much shorter oil life than cars that have moderate oil temperatures. Interestingly, the same also goes for low temps. It may be surprising, but low oil temperatures (below 180°F) can also shorten oil life. In fact, low 120°F oil temps pose greater risks to your engine than 260°F oil temperatures do. The reason is because low oil temps allow more moisture and fuel dilution to build up in your engine.

Street rods that see many miles of highway driving at moderate oil temperatures can expect to go up to 5,000 miles between oil changes.

Owners of street rods that only see short-trip driving should change their oil every 3,000 miles, or at least once a year. It is important to always change the oil in the fall before you put your street rod away for winter storage. You want to drain all the moisture, fuel dilution and used oil out of the engine before you stop driving for the season. Make sure the crankcase has been refilled with fresh oil, and then you are good to go when the weather warms up in the spring. The oil will not go bad just sitting in your crankcase over the winter.

2: Do I need break-in oil, and how long do you use break-in oil?

While every engine can benefit from break-in oil, it is a must for flat tappet camshaft engines. Even roller cam engines benefit from break-in oil because the piston rings still need to break in, and a better, faster ring break-in means more power and less fuel dilution in the motor oil.

Driven recommends changing the break-in oil after 30 minutes if you have a flat tappet engine. You will then need to refill with break-in oil for the next 500 miles. After both the initial break-in and 500 miles of driving, you can then use an oil made specifically for flat tappet engines.

For non-flat-tappet engines, we recommend running the break-in oil for 500 miles. After that time you can install whichever oil you prefer.

3: What viscosity oil should I run?

The “technical” answer is to use the lowest viscosity possible for the engine bearing clearances, oil temperature and horsepower output. Most people don’t know all of this information though, so the “practical” way to determine the correct viscosity is to do one of the following:

1—Run as low a viscosity as will yield 25 to 30 psi oil pressure at idle when the engine is warmed up. This is more oil pressure than the engine needs, but it is not excessive. Oil pressure is one of those areas where moderation rules. Too much or too little is not good. You need moderation in oil pressure to prevent engine damage.

2—Use  one viscosity grade lower synthetic oil than you currently run if you utilize conventional oil. This gives you the same high-temp protection as your conventional oil, but you gain all the benefits of a synthetic. For example, a street rod running conventional 20W-50 motor oil can safely switch to a synthetic 10W-40 and actually improve the protection of the engine.

4: Do I need to do anything special for winter storage?

Using an oil with storage protection additives is recommended. Some motor oils have extra rust and corrosion inhibitor additives that make them better suited for wintertime. Also, it is important to change the oil before you put your street rod away for the winter. You don’t want to store the engine on used motor oil. Fresh oil with extra corrosion inhibitors provides excellent winter storage.

5: Do I need to use a “high Zinc” oil after break-in?

You do if you have a flat tappet cam or very high valve spring pressures on a roller cam. Flat tappet and aggressive roller cam engines require higher levels of ZDDP than modern, stock engines from the factory. As a result, these engines need a steady diet of high Zinc oils.

We know this is a lot of information with lots of variables to take into account to protect your vehicle’s engine. Fortunately, Driven Racing Oil is a one-stop shop for everything from break-in oils to high Zinc motor oils with extra rust and corrosion inhibitors. We can provide everything you need to keep your muscle car or street rod engine running in peak form.


Driven Racing Oil™ Carb Defender™ Race Concentrate

Huntersville, NC– Designed for carbureted engines that use Methanol, E85 or Oxygenated race fuel, Driven’s Carb Defender™Race Concentrate prevents corrosion and deposits in the fuel system and intake tract.

Driven’s Carb Defender Race Concentrate delivers specially formulated additives that protect against carburetor corrosion and induction deposits. Special corrosion inhibitors work to prevent damage and diminished performance caused by fuels containing Methanol and Ethanol, as well as the moisture these fuels attract. This powerful new additive controls combustion chamber residue, plus cleans and protects surfaces of the fuel system and intake tract. Carb Defender Race Concentrate also contains a multi-functional lubricant so “top lubes” are not required. Just one bottle of additive treats up to 55 gallons of fuel, and the bottle features a handy view strip to let users measure out doses for as little as five gallons of gas. Driven Racing Oil™ Carb Defender Race Concentrate works with Methanol, E85 and race fuels, and it is compatible with spec fuel and water tests.


Driven Racing Oil™ To Be Part Of Technical Seminar On The Damaging Effects Of Ethanol At The 2013 SEMA Show

Driven Racing Oil™ will be featured as part of a technical seminar examining the rust and corrosion problems Ethanol can create in carburetors during this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

Over 90% of pump fuel contains at least some Ethanol, and the EPA has recently raised pump fuel’s allowed level of Ethanol from 10% (E10) to 15% (E15). These changes have serious consequences for carbureted engines. Modern vehicles are equipped with fuel injection, and current fuel standard tests deal with issues related to these modern fuel systems. However, carburetors in cars, trucks and motorcycles that are rarely driven face issues with Ethanol-blended fuels that current pump fuel standards do not address. This session provides information related to the use of Ethanol-blended fuels in carbureted power plants. Scheduled to take place at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 5th in room N262, the seminar is entitled “Ethanol’s Effect – What E10 up to E85 Does to Carburetors.” Speakers include Lake Speed Jr., Certified Lubrication Specialist at Driven Racing Oil, and Michael Miller from Technical Services at Sunoco Race Fuels. As part of the seminar Speed will talk about the rust and corrosion that Ethanol can cause in carburetors, and will discuss the benefits of Driven’s new Carb Defender™ Fuel Additive.

Glossary Of Oil Terms

Additive– an oil additive is a chemical compound that imparts new properties or enhances the inherent characteristic of the lubricant. For example, ZDDP is an additive that imparts anti-wear, oxidation control and corrosion resistance to a lubricant.

Air entrainment – the presence of air bubbles in oil as a result of agitation. For example, crankshaft windage or Vacuum pumps. Anti-foam additives help to speed the release of entrained air.

Anti-Foam additive – additives designed to reduce the foaming tendency of an oil or fluid by improving the air-release properties of the oil.

Anti-wear additive – additives designed to prevent galling and scuffing during boundary lubrication conditions. These additives function by forming a sacrificial coating on the metal surface, which prevents metal-to-metal contact. These additives, like ZDDP, are activated by heat and load.

Asperities – microscopic projections on metal surfaces, invisible to the naked eye, that create peaks and valleys. When two surfaces are in sliding contact, these imperfections cause interference that results in friction. Without proper lubrication, wear, scoring or welding will occur.

Babbitt – an alloy of copper, tin and antimony used for plain bearings.

Bernoulli’s Theorem – states that a rise in fluid velocity results in a drop in static pressure. It partially explains why lower viscosity oils produce lower oil pressure.

Boundary lubrication – lubrication between two rubbing surfaces in the absence of a full fluid lubricating film. Boundary lubrication is accomplished by the use of additives. Flat tappet valve trains and aggressive roller cam valve trains operate in boundary lubrication, which is why these engines require motor oils with increased ZDDP – a boundary lubrication additive.

Bulk Modulus – the resistance to compressibility of an oil or fluid. Critical in hydraulic systems like shock absorbers and power steering systems.

Channeling – a term describing the desirable tendency of a grease to form a channel in a bearing where the “shoulders” of the channel serve as grease reservoirs and seals.

Chelation – the reaction of a metal with another substance to remove the metal ion from the solution. Useful in treating minerals like calcium and magnesium that are common in municipal and well water. Untreated, these minerals can cause corrosion. Chelation binds these minerals and prevents corrosion.

Conventional oil– also known as petroleum or mineral oils are derived by refining crude oil

Corrosion Inhibitors – additives that “passivate” metal surfaces to protect the surface from corrosion reactions. Corrosion inhibitors can also function by neutralizing corrosive compounds. Corrosion inhibitors are very important additives for engines that operate in high moisture environments or see extended periods of storage.

Detergent – a metallic additive used in motor oils to clean deposits, prevent deposits and neutralize acids.

Dispersant – a non-metallic additive used in conjunction with detergent additives to prevent sludge and varnish in an engine.

Distillation – the first step in separating crude oil into its various components. Distillation uses a fractioning tower to separate the various hydrocarbons based on their boiling points. This is the first step in making the various hydrocarbon based products we are all familiar with – gasoline, diesel, motor oils, etc…

Ethanol– also known as ethyl alcohol, ethanol is an alternative fuel and an oxygenate for pump fuel. Modern pump fuel typically contains up to 10% Ethanol. In some cases, the Ethanol content in fuel can range from 15% Ethanol (E15)all the way up to E85 (85% Ethanol). Ethanol is both Hygroscopic and corrosive to Aluminum, Zinc and Steel, which can cause extensive damage to fuel system components like Carburetors, Fuel Pumps and Fuel Cells.

EP (Extreme Pressure) additives – these additives function similarly to Anti-Wear, except they activate at higher temperatures and greater loads. EP additives are commonly found in hypoid gear oils and EP greases. Compounds of sulfur, phosphorus and chlorine are common EP additives.

Elastohydrodynamic Lubrication (EHL) – a thin film form of lubrication that occurs under very high pressures where the contacting surfaces deform to create a “contact patch” that traps a small amount of lubricant that will separate the two surfaces. Think of this in terms of a slick tire deforming to create a contact patch with the track, and then running through water. The contact patch traps the water which causes the tire (and by association, the vehicle) to hydroplane. This form of lubrication is common in highly loaded roller bearings.

EPA – Environmental Protection Agency. EPA regulations have changed the chemical makeup of gasoline, diesel and motor oils in the last 10 years.

Galling/Scuffing – condition where surfaces come into contact and excessive friction results in localized welding of surface asperities with subsequent metal transfer and further surface roughening.

Grease – a lubricant composed of an oil thickened with a soap or other thickener.

Gum – a sticky, rubbery deposit, black or brown in color resulting from the oxidation of unstable components in gasoline that deposit during use or in storage.

HTHS (High Temperature High Shear)– HTHS is a measure of viscosity under conditions of high temperature and high shear. HTHS predicts bearing oil film thickness. High HTHS oils provide greater wear protection, but typically rob horsepower and fuel economy. Oils with lower HTHS are thinner and can improve fuel economy by reducing drag throughout the engine, although too low of an HTHS may come at the expense of reduced wear protection.

Hydrodynamic lubrication – condition where the lubricant is able to fully separate the two surfaces with a full lubricant film based upon the relative speed of the surfaces, the load being carried and the viscosity of the lubricant.

Hygroscopic – hygroscopic substances easily absorb moisture from the environment, meaning that they can collect water over time. High water content in either fuel or oil can result in corrosion, gummy deposits and increased oxidation. Hard starting and poor performance are typical symptoms of excess water.

Hydrometer – an instrument used to measure the specific gravity of an oil or fuel. Commonly referred to as the “water test”.

Lacquer – a deposit resulting from the oxidation and polymerization of the lubricant and/or fuel due to exposure to extreme temperatures.

Lubrication – reduction of friction and wear between two load bearing surfaces by the application of a lubricant. There are 4 modes of lubrication – Boundary lubrication (thin, chemical film lubrication), Mixed film (partial oil films), EHL (pressure induced thin film lubrication), Hydrodynamic lubrication (full fluid film lubrication).

Methanol– Methyl Alcohol is also an alternative fuel and a common racing fuel. Because it has a high octane rating, methanol is best suited for high compression internal combustion engines. Methanol is also hygroscopic and corrosive. Due to the high oxygen content of Methanol, the air fuel ratio must be adjusted to prevent a “lean” mixture, as a result, the amount of Methanol used relative to gasoline is nearly double.

Mixed film lubrication – condition where only partial oil films separate the two surfaces.

mPAO– a next-generation synthetic base oil. mPAO base oils feature a higher viscosity index, which allows for the formulation of multi-grade motor oils that are less dependent on traditional viscosity index improver additives.

Multi grade motor oil – an engine oil that meets both “winter” and “summer” SAE viscosity requirements. For example an SAE 10W-30 meets both the 10W “winter” performance requirements as well as the 30 grade “summer” requirements. Typically formulated with Viscosity Index Improver additives.

Octane: a reference standard that indicates the resistance to detonation/pre-ignition in gasoline engines. A higher Octane rating indicates greater resistance to detonation.

Oxidation – chemical process in which oxygen reacts with oil and or fuel that results in acids and polymers that lead to corrosion and deposits.

PPM – parts per million

Profilometer – a device that measures and profiles the smoothness and roughness of a surface.

Rheology – the study of how viscosity changes due to increases in shear over temperature and time.

Shear Stability – a measure in the change in viscosity after a oil/fluid is subjected to shear over a range of temperature and time. Lubricants with poor shear stability lose viscosity in service due to high shear and high temperature conditions. Lubricants with excellent shear stability maintain their viscosity in service despite high temperatures and high shear.

Synthetic oil– these “custom built” oils are a result of controlled chemical synthesis. Synthetic oils feature uniform and tailored chemical structures that allow them to provide benefits beyond conventional oils.

Tribology – the science and technology of interacting surfaces in relative motion. Tribology combines the various disciplines of chemistry, metallurgy, machine design, and lubrication engineering to solve issues related to friction and wear.

Viscosity– Simply put, viscosity is an oil’s resistance to flow. Commonly measured in Centistokes, the greater the resistance to flow, the higher the viscosity and the greatest the Centistoke value. Lower viscosity oils flow better than high viscosity oils, which demonstrates less resistance to flow (lower Centistoke value). It is important to remember that viscosity changes with temperature and shear (see viscosity index and shear stability).

Viscosity Index Improvers – polymer additives used in motor oil to increase the viscosity index of the motor oil.

Viscosity Index – a measure of the tendency of an oil to thin as temperatures increase. Motor oils are similar to maple syrup in that they both get thicker as they get colder and get thinner as they get hotter. Maple syrup has a low viscosity index – it thickens rapidly when it cools and thins rapidly when it gets hot. The slower the rate of viscosity change with increasing or decreasing temperature, the higher the viscosity index. Higher viscosity index oils tend to reduce wear in engines.

Volatility– the measure of an oil’s tendency to vaporize at high temperature. Studies indicate high volatility oils lead to increased oil consumption and contribute to intake valve and combustion chamber deposits.

Zinc (ZDDP)- ZDDP – Zinc DialkylDithioPhosphate is a family of anti-wear chemical compounds. They provide multiple benefits. ZDDP additives not only provide anti-wear protection for rubbing surfaces, they also help prevent oxidation and corrosion.



Carb Defender™ Provides Critical Wintertime Storage Protection

Huntersville, NCDriven Carb Defender™ is an ultra-concentrated fuel additive that protects your car’s fuel system from damaging Ethanol corrosion during wintertime storage.

Before you put your hot rod in storage for the winter off-season, it’s crucial to make sure it has the correct protection so that it will be in proper running condition when it’s time to take it back out for cruising and show season. Designed for carbureted classic and performance vehicles, Driven Carb Defender™ will save you the hassle of costly post-storage repairs resulting from corrosion that happens at an accelerated pace over the winter due to temperature swings. Because it is specifically formulated to protect against Ethanol corrosion and induction deposits, Driven Carb Defender™ and its special corrosion inhibitors work to counteract the damaging moisture buildup resulting from the hygroscopic characteristics of Ethanol-blended fuel. Over the winter months, the Ethanol in your fuel tank absorbs moisture which if left unprotected will lead to rust, corrosion and other costly problems. In addition, this race-proven additive stabilizes the fuel as well as cleans existing deposits in the combustion chamber. With Driven Carb Defender™, you can rest assured that once it’s Spring and you’re ready to bring your hot rod back out on the  road, its performance will remain the same.

Piston Ring Sealing: The Chi of Free Horsepower

Here’s how to free up more horsepower in your engine by finding balance
By Jeff Huneycutt

Honestly, we don’t know much about chi, crystals or any other new-age hokum. But we do know to shut up and listen when the horsepower experts talk. And lately, Driven Racing Oil’sTM Lake Speed Jr. has been talking about how to free up more horsepower by finding “balance” when you build your next engine.

And no, he’s not talking about yoga or meditation–although we’ve heard that’s good for you–instead, he means finding the right combination of parts and preparation to properly seal the combustion chamber floor. When most people think of the combustion chamber in a running engine, they picture the cylinder head and maybe the valves. But that is only the top of the chamber. The chamber floor consists of the top of the piston and the rings. It’s the piston rings which keep combustion pressure from squeezing down the side of the piston between the skirt and the cylinder walls, and the more efficient the rings are at keeping the rapidly expanding combustion gases from escaping the chamber, the more power your engine will make.

It’s a mistake, however, to think that the piston rings do all this by themselves. The rings depend on motor oil splashed up onto the cylinder walls by the rotating crankshaft to provide lubrication where the ring contacts the cylinder wall. Without proper lubrication, friction between the ring and the cylinder wall will cause irreparable damage within a matter of minutes. But the oil also provides a secondary benefit: It actually helps seal any small gaps between the edge of the ring and the cylinder wall, decreasing blow-by and improving horsepower. The oil, in turn, depends on the engine machinist to properly prepare the cylinder bores by honing a series of tiny grooves into the cylinder wall in a crosshatch pattern. It’s this pattern of grooves that actually helps trap a small film of oil so that the cylinder wall isn’t wiped dry every time the piston rings slide past.

Total seal“At Driven Racing Oil, we have great relationships with a lot of the top engine builders,” Speed says, “but we also work very closely with some of the top manufacturers such as Total Seal Rings and Sunnen. And by learning from each other, it helps us all understand what is necessary to help an engine make as much power possible while still maintaining great dependability. What is very clear is that the system that seals the combustion chamber from the cylinder is dependent upon several factors. In other words, the piston ring isn’t doing it all by itself, and the oil definitely isn’t doing it all by itself, either. You have to have a balanced system where the rings, the motor oil, and the cylinder wall preparation are all designed to work together.”

Lake points out that what may have worked in the good old days will likely leave you eating your competitors’ dust today. Ten years ago a set of high-tension rings 0.043 of an inch thick for the first and second ring were standard fare, and so was heavy motor oil. Today, low tension rings only seven millimeters thick are quite popular, but if you are running the same oil you were 10 years ago you are robbing those new piston rings of some of their potential performance. Performance oil technology has advanced just like hard parts. It goes back to that balance Speed talks about. And if your engine isn’t balanced you are losing out on either power or durability.

“The old school 0.043 piston ring has a lot of tension, or pressure, against the cylinder wall,” Speed explains. “So you need a thicker oil to keep the piston ring from scraping all the oil off the cylinder wall. But with the newer seven-millimeter ring, you don’t have as much tension, so if you keep that same oil, all you are doing is making it more difficult for the piston and ring to move up and down the cylinder bore, costing you horsepower. Modern oils with better resistance to heat and improved lubrication qualities like those in Driven’s lineup allow you to run lighter-weight oil than ever before while also improving protection.

piston rings“The same thing is true for the other corners of our triangle,” he adds. “For example, you can try to cut some internal friction by making the cylinder walls smoother by taking away the depth of the grooves in the crosshatch. But if the cylinder bore is super smooth and flat and you don’t leave any valleys in there, you are going to have to use a thicker oil. It has to be more ‘clingy’ than normal, otherwise you won’t have enough oil remaining in the upper cylinder bore region to maintain good ring seal. Because you’ve gotten rid of the valleys in the crosshatch, there isn’t any place for the oil to hang on to, so now you have to raise the viscosity to make up for it. But increasing the viscosity raises the internal resistance in the engine. Not only is it tougher for the rings to move through that film of oil in the cylinder bore, but it also makes it more difficult for the oil pump to push the oil through the engine. So the result of trying to create super-smooth cylinder walls to cut friction can actually raise friction in other ways throughout the engine and wind up costing you horsepower.”

CYL FINISH_1It turns out that the right combination of cylinder bore crosshatch and lightweight oil is even better for ring life than a smooth cylinder bore and thicker motor oil–so you can have the best of both worlds. The key to a good cylinder hone –one that allows oil to cling to the cylinder bores without causing unnecessary friction with the piston rings– is to cut “valleys” without any “ridges.” A good engine machinist will use a series of honing stones to cut the crosshatch into the bore and then go back with a finer stone and knock down any ridges the rougher stones created.

The idea is to make the engine run as efficiently as possible. There is only a finite amount of power in a drop of gasoline, but no one has ever been able to turn all of that chemical energy into mechanical energy. In fact, in an internal combustion engine, most of the energy is lost to heat and friction. The good news is that plenty of power can be found simply by helping an engine work more efficiently.

“A good ring seal is efficiency,” Speed says. “The fuel will make the power, all we have to worry about is getting that power to spin the crankshaft and not blow it down into the crankcase.”

Going back to the old school 0.043-inch thick rings, Speed points out that the formula to get this to work in a 350 cubic inch V8 with a 6,000 rpm redline making 400 horsepower is relatively simple. In a motor running 10W-30 motor oil, it is pretty easy to get the rings to seal up and run without issue. But there’s also plenty of power being lost to heavy components and friction between the rings and the cylinder bore.

piston rings3“Now let’s take that same motor as a baseline and try to build a nine or ten thousand rpm race engine,” Speed adds. “Those 0.043 rings don’t work anymore because that’s too much mass we are trying to move up and down the cylinder. So the rings get smaller and lighter, and the piston has to lose mass too. That leaves less contact area between the rings and the piston’s ring lands to help hold those rings straight. The thinner ring also means there’s less area of contact between the outside edge of the ring and the cylinder wall. On the one hand that means less friction, but it also makes it harder to get a good seal.”

So you can see just a few of the challenges that come with trying to build a high horsepower engine. It’s a lot tougher to find that right balance of factors than it is with the 400 horsepower engine. If the 400 horsepower motor is walking down the sidewalk, finding the right balance for a 10,000 rpm race motor is walking a tightrope. Getting that extra power with the same displacement is possible by increasing the efficiency–race teams prove it every weekend–but because components have to move faster while weighing less and still maintaining the same cylinder sealing capabilities, the precision required ramps up as well. “Hey,” Speed adds, “it’s pretty hard to fall off the bottom of a mountain, but it’s awfully easy to fall off the top.”

And it’s not just the oil guy stressing the importance of finding the correct motor oil to match the rings and cylinder bore crosshatch. Keith Jones of Total Seal Piston Rings says proper oil selection is critical to helping the rings do their job.

“No matter how much you want it to be true, there is no single ring that’s the best for every situation,” he says. “Whenever I talk to a customer, my first questions are always, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What’s your application?’

Sunnen Engine Honing“Take, for example, a twin turbo application,” Jones adds. “On a performance engine like that you can have cylinder pressures of several thousand PSI. But you have to remember that the cylinder pressure is trying to get behind the ring and push it right through that thin boundary layer of oil on the cylinder wall. If we choose an oil that’s too thin, that cylinder pressure is going to push the rings right through that boundary layer of oil and the rings are going to fail in no time. Too thick and you are wasting energy and causing other problems. You have to consider the cylinder wall to be a bearing surface just like the main and rod bearings because the ring has to be able to ride along the cylinder walls on a film of oil. You wouldn’t put a zero-weight motor oil in a Top Fuel engine because you know the rod bearings are going to come crashing right through that film of oil and into the crankshaft’s rod journal. It’s the same thing with the piston ring.”

When you pull out all the stops, it is actually quite amazing how precise modern machining methods can be when preparing a new block. Top-flight engine builders for NASCAR Cup teams and other professional racing organizations use equipment that allows them to be incredibly precise. The result: once the engine is fired for the first time, there is practically zero break-in required. That’s why you may hear that Cup teams break in their engines using the same synthetic oil that they race with. But just because they do it, that’s doesn’t mean it is necessarily a good idea for you and your new engine.

00106The equipment required–including diamond honing stones–to prepare a block to the NASCAR Cup level is incredibly expensive and simply out of the budget for most of us real-world folk. Instead, by using a quality break-in oil, you can protect the engine while helping the rings to seat as quickly as possible. Essentially, during those first few minutes of operation the engine finishes the final bit of machine work that Cup teams spend so many thousands of dollars to do themselves. The trick is to use a motor oil during the break-in process that helps the engine to break in quickly (seat rings, mate tappets to camlobes, etc.) while also providing optimum protection during what is a very stressful time for engine components.

“A lot of guys think that break-in oil is just about protecting a flat tappet valve train,” Speed says. “But our break-in oil is also formulated chemically to help a new engine seat the rings quickly without doing any damage to either the rings or the cylinder walls so that the engine winds up at the same place as the big-money race engine. There’s a lot more to our break-in oil than simply throwing in a lot of zinc to protect a flat tappet camshaft.”

One specific application where engine builders can often improve ring seal–resulting in both more power and longer engine life–is methanol burning race engines. Methanol is an alcohol and doesn’t have the same lubricating qualities as gasoline. In fact, methanol can actually be corrosive to metal surfaces, making it a tricky fuel to work with.

As a way of protecting themselves, engine builders working with methanol will often add a “top lube” or “upper cylinder lubricant” to the fuel itself. The idea is to help keep the upper portion of the cylinder walls from being washed clean of oil by the methanol by actually adding lubricant into the fuel itself. But this can cause more problems than it solves, Speed says.

In past decades a top lube may have been necessary, but modern motor oil formulations are more resistant to methanol and capable of properly protecting a methanol-burning engine. In fact, use of a top lube can actually harm the motor oil.

CAST RING FACE“Top lube is usually just two-cycle oil or something very similar to it,” Speed explains. “Since it mixes with the fuel, it can’t have additives in it, and it doesn’t lubricate as well as a good motor oil. But some of it will get blown past the rings and into the crank case where it mixes with the motor oil. Then it dilutes the oil as well as the additives in the oil so that it can no longer do its job as well. We’ve worked with engine builders before who have blamed us because they were seeing a lot of sludge in the bottom of the oil pan during teardown. We tested the sludge trying to find the problem and discovered that the motor oil didn’t contain any of the stuff that was making up the sludge. It was the top lube getting into the crankcase and turning into the damaging sludge.”

Speed also points out that top lube can also actually hurt ring seal. As we discussed earlier, the most critical moments for establishing great ring seal is when the engine is first fired up. In order for the rings to properly seat, there must be some friction to help the rings mate to the cylinder walls. That’s why a good break-in oil is designed to properly protect an engine while it breaks in without being too slippery. Adding a top lube to the fuel throws off that delicate balance established by the break-in oil to potentially greatly increase the amount of time required to seat the rings. Often, if the rings don’t seat quickly, the seal will never be as good as it could be.

Carb-Defender-single bottle-Web“Your goal should always be to achieve maximum ring seal to make the engine as efficient as possible,” Speed explains. “So the best thing is not to use a top lube. If you are worried about corrosion from methanol, use Driven’s Carb Defender, which protects the fuel pump, carburetor or injectors without adding lubrication to the fuel. And then run a quality break-in oil which will protect the cylinder walls from scuffing and helps the engine finish the honing process so that the rings will seat very quickly. Don’t add any lubricity to the fuel or even the oil during the break-in process.”

The message we got from both Speed and Jones is that sometimes it can be tough to figure out exactly which oil–and ring package, for that matter–is right for your application from reading catalogs or the internet. But that doesn’t mean you are forced to rely on guesswork. The best manufacturers of both performance motor oil and engine components are constantly finding ways to improve engine efficiency and want to help you reap those benefits. So give them a call and get busy building your best engine yet.







Power AutoMedia Releases Carb Defender Video Spotlight

Power AutoMedia, the parent company of industry leading automotive websites such as StreetLegalTV.com, Chevyhardcore.com and RodAuthority.com, just released a new video that takes an in-depth look at Driven Carb Defender and the growing problem of Ethanol Corrosion. Check out the video on our YouTube channel or view it in the player below.

Ethanol Fuel Concerns Are A Hot Topic Among Trusted Media Sources

Carb Defender Is The Bodyguard For Your Carburetor

Modern fuel blends containing ethanol are eating classic cars from the inside out. Here’s what you can do to protect yours.

By Jeff Huneycutt

Like they say, “It’s the things you don’t see that you’ve got to watch out for.”

Sort of like when you are buying a new car and then get hit with all the fees the salesman never mentioned until you are signing the paperwork. That’s sort of what is happening with the fuel you use.

A few years ago, when ethanol began being blended with gasoline, we were told how it’s good for the environment, how it helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil and how it will benefit the American farmer. After all, in the U.S. ethanol is created from corn, and what could be better than corn, right?

But ethanol also has some very serious drawbacks that weren’t mentioned at the time. Namely, ethanol is hygroscopic, which is just a fancy term meaning that it attracts water. Ethanol exposed to the atmosphere will actually pull the moisture from the air and attach to it. Having water in your fuel system is bad enough on its own since it is pretty useful at putting out fires instead of helping combustion, but it gets worse. The water and ethanol are actually corrosive to many metals and actively harm components in the typical fuel system. That’s why many auto manufacturers now build and market cars and trucks as “Flex Fuel” vehicles. That doesn’t just mean that they can burn E15 and E85 ethanol-blended fuels—practically any vehicle can do that—it means that the manufacturer has taken extra steps to protect the fuel system from the harmful effects of ethanol.

So is ethanol really that damaging? Yes! Consider that most of the gasoline used in the United States is delivered to terminals through pipelines. But the ethanol isn’t blended into the fuel until later. That’s because the ethanol is so damaging that the pipeline companies won’t allow it into their equipment. They simply don’t want the ethanol eating away their pipes from the inside out.

The same corrosi20130524_195322on that damages fuel pipelines happens in your hot rod, classic car and even your daily driver if it was built before 2007 or so. The water and ethanol reacts to both aluminum and zinc, two of the primary components in the alloy carburetors are made from, to eat away the material and leave behind white scaly deposits. Those deposits create the perfect trifecta of bad: loss of performance, fuel mileage and reliability.

To make things worse, the damage taking place happens unseen inside the fuel system, hidden from you. And the rate of corrosion can also vary depending on a few factors. The big one is how much ethanol is in your fuel. Obviously, E85 (85-percent ethanol) fuel will corrode your fuel system faster than E10 (10-percent ethanol), but neither is good. And it looks like the percentage of ethanol used in the gasoline you can buy will only be going up. Recently, the United States Supreme Court denied a motion to force the EPA to hold off on bringing E15 to market because it isn’t being properly labeled so that consumers can avoid it. And none other than the American Automobile Association (AAA) says studies have shown that even vehicles rated as E15 compliant can be damaged by the high ethanol content in the fuel. In fact, AAA is warning its members that under no circumstances should they try to use E15 in boats, planes, motorcycles, small engines and older cars because it is so damaging. Unfortunately, it may soon become quite difficult to purchase gasoline that doesn’t have high levels of ethanol.

The second major factor regarding rate of corrosion is how long the car is allowed to sit. Believe it or not, ethanol isn’t as damaging to a daily driver as it is to a car that is only driven occasionally and allowed to sit for long periods. It’s that prolonged contact that can really do the damage. Knowing all this, it’s easy to see that classics, hot rods and other older cars that are normally only driven on weekends and during nice weather are most susceptible to the perils of ethanol. And a car allowed to sit over the winter is especially at risk. Ethanol-blended fuels are also particularly tough on marine, or boat engines, small engines like lawn mowers and power generators, and motorcycle engines.

Since ethanol began showing up in fuels, a multitude of quick fixes have popped up claiming to cure the problems ethanol creates. All you have to do is make a trip to your closest auto parts store to see the incredible variety of products now on the market. Almost every single one, however, claims to work by changing the fuel, either by somehow “removing water” or as a “fuel stabilizer.” The problem with this method is that by changing the fuel to achieve one goal, the additive may also change it in other ways that you cannot know. The fuel’s octane may be moved either up or down the scale, the vapor pressure may change, the idle may get rough, or any number of things might change that affect the way the fuel burns. This normally isn’t an issue for your average weed whacker or low-RPM grocery getter, but it can harm the performance of a highly tuned engine. Any additive that changes the chemistry of the fuel can affect the proper tune-up for the engine in ways that are very difficult—or even impossible—to predict.

Understanding this, Driven Racing Oil™ has found an alternative solution to the problem. Driven’s history is in racing, and not just the NASCAR Cup Series. Driven also has extensive experience racing with Sprint Car and Modified teams running methanol alcohol as the fuel, and for years those teams have dealt with the same issues hot rodders are now seeing with ethanol. Driven’s chemists and engineers know what works and what doesn’t, and its solution to the ethanol issue is a great departure from the rank-and-file products already on the shelves. Driven Racing Oil’s new Carb Defender additive doesn’t affect the fuel but instead creates a sacrificial barrier between the carburetor (and other fuel system components) and the ethanol.

“We’re racers and engine builders,” explains Driven’s Lake Speed Jr., “so we understand the need for protecting an engine’s performance. When we set about looking for a solution to help engines with ethanol corrosion, we looked to find the right balance. We wanted to provide superior protection without affecting the fuel. Our answer with Carb Defender is actually to create a metal deactivator. The molecules in our additive have what you might call a preference for aluminum, zinc and other materials. It creates a chemical barrier that keeps the fuel from oxidizing with the metal and protects your fuel system without affecting performance.”

Speed says Driven’s research shows that for hot rods or older cars driven fairly regularly, Carb Defender needs to be added to the fuel only every other fill-up or so. But even for a car that’s only driven irregularly, maybe on nice weekends or to the occasional car show, adding a bottle of Carb Defender each time you hit the pumps will still be able to provide proper protection. The tiny 4.5 ounce bottle is highly concentrated so it can treat a 25 gallon tank without diluting the fuel. It also works as a cleaner to dissolve and break up oxidation deposits; just mix one bottle for every eight gallons for the first tank and then bring the treatment back down to normal levels.

“At Driven, our primary business is high performance motor oils, and we’re pretty successful at it,” Speed says. “We saw the ethanol problem from being involved in motorsports ourselves and also from engine builders we work with. If we thought that there was a viable product already available to help with the problem we would have simply told people, ‘Hey, use this.’ But there just wasn’t anything that we thought worked to the standard we thought it should. So that’s why we are producing Carb Defender. Like racers and hot rodders, we’re engine guys first, so we looked for the molecule that fit the problem. Unlike a lot of chemical companies, we didn’t start out with a prized chemical and then look around trying to find a market for it.”

But Speed is also quick to simage_2ay that because Carb Defender is designed specifically not to affect the fuel, it also won’t cure an excessive buildup of water drawn into the fuel because of the ethanol. “This is a phenomenon known as ‘phase separation’ which happens when the ethanol draws enough moisture from the air that the water actually separates from the fuel,” he explains.

“Phase separation is most likely to happen in situations where there is lots of humidity in the air, when the fuel and air temperature is warm, or when there is a lot of surface area for the air and fuel to meet. So if you are driving around on a warm day in an area where it’s humid and with a half tank of fuel, that’s when the fuel is drawing the most moisture. You park the car with the half- tank so there is a lot of the fuel’s surface area exposed to air in the tank, and that ethanol really starts pulling in the moisture. Then when the fuel cools—just like air—it can’t hold the moisture as well as when it is warm and it falls out of suspension as drops of water. Water is heavier than gasoline so it gathers in the bottom of your tank, which is exactly where your fuel pump pickup is located.”

Imagine how hard it is on your engine when you hit the starter and the first thing it gets is a shot of water instead of fuel. If you’ve ever put your car into storage for the winter running great and then had trouble getting it to start the next spring, you may have been a victim of phase separation. The good news is Speed says the best cure for phase separation is mechanical, not chemical. So you can do it yourself rather than spending your hard-earned money on more product. The key is to limit any opportunities ethanol-blended fuel may have to interact with air.

Since most of us don’t have easy access to ethanol-free fuel, we have two real-world options for eliminating phase separation and the problems that come with it. One option is to always drive the car until the fuel tank is empty, or drain the fuel tank every time you store your car. Then, put in fresh fuel when you are ready to drive again. This, obviously, isn’t realistic so we’ll scratch that one and move on to option two.

This time around, instead of running the car out of fuel before storage, top the tank off on your way home so that it is absolutely full of fuel when you park it. A fuel tank must be vented, so you can’t totally cut off access to the atmosphere, but by filling the tank to the top you move the contact area for air and fuel to interact up from the fuel tank to the filler neck, severely limiting the opportunity for ethanol to pull moisture from the air. Since you have to buy fuel anyway, the fix doesn’t cost anything, and combined with Carb Defender you can allow your car, boat, motorcycle or anything else to sit all winter if necessary and still have confidence that it is fully protected from harmful ethanol. And when you do bring it back out of storage, it will run just as well as the day you parked it. That’s the Driven advantage.

Learn More About Carb Defender™

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