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Engine Cleansing

Engine Cleansing Published: 23rd Dec 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Engine Cleansing
Engine Cleansing
Engine Cleansing
Engine Cleansing
Engine Cleansing
Engine Cleansing
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If your car’s engine feels a bit under the weather, why not treat it to a spot of inner cleansing? We try out two professional treatments

Ever taken Epsom Salts – remember Andrews; two well known special drinks that helped clean your ‘inners’ to put it politely? They could certainly perk you up a bit and you can do the same for your classic by way of dedicated additives or treatments.

Of course, many of us have already done so in the past; Redex is probably the most popular upper cylinder lubricant, going back to the days when forecourt attendants (whatever happened to them…) used to offer a shot with your fuel. You could go further and try what was called Redex’s ‘Power in an Hour’ trick of pouring this upper cylinder lubricant down the bores, letting it soak in to piston tops and valves before trickling some down the carburettor intake on a fast idle – with the resultant clouds of white smoke afterwards!

Times have moved on and while DIY additives are increasing on the shelves, such as CataClean that’s now RAC branded and sold in Halfords, professional treatments have too evolved dragging cleaning practices into the 21st Century to offer better performance and economy together with reduced emissions.

By their nature, fuels and their burning properties, over time, will gum up the works and so lead to a gradual decline in performance and economy that may go unnoticed by the regular driver. And it’s surprising how much performance can tail off, leading to some owners considering carrying out costly performance mods which may not be necessary.

Time to terra-lise your classic!

Terra (as in Earth) Clean originates from a group of environmentallyconscious Canadian physicists who, on behalf of the Canadian Government, were attempting to create an emission-free internal combustion engine. They succeeded but the costs made it commercially non-viable. The project was canned – but out of interest they stripped the test engine and discovered it was incredibly clean as a result of the fuel and so TerraClean was conceived and developed from that finding, and it’s been marketed in the UK for more than four years by Randstad Ltd, a leading automotive supplier for more than 40 years and endorsed by Wheeler Dealers host and mechanic Edd China who has used the equipment on the show and is also an authorised TerraClean service centre.

We’ve used the treatment before and have been impressed with the results but now wanted to try it out on a modern performance car. With under 70,000 miles on the clock, and regularly serviced, you wouldn’t think that there wasn’t much wrong with our ‘new’ ten year old Golf R32 and yet it’s inevitable that some degree of deterioration has taken place over time and mileage. You can’t counteract normal wear of course, but a good ‘clear out’ can well put back what’s been gradually lost over the years.

TerraClean is said to be suitable for all types of engines, even diesels. Little-used classics of all ages are also ideal candidates where the engine may not get hot enough, even on a run, to purge itself of any by-products. In fact, our specialist centre AutoCentre Rushden (01933-353250) of Northamptonshire had recently carried out the TerraClean on a Jag XK and the owner came beaming, reckoning it could take on an E-type! This may not always be the case, says TerraClean, and you need to speak to the centre first as the cleaning process may prove much too thorough and remove those vital carbon build ups that were providing the seal for good compression on old engines.

TerraClean consists of two canisters of dedicated cleaners that are installed into an air-driven machine that’s also run off the vehicle’s 12v supply. The cleaning process takes about 40 minutes depending on how easy it is to tap into the fuel line – a difficult job on some moderns – unlike the majority of classics – but a piece of cake with our VW V6 engine. The engine is simply run solely on this concentrated cleaning fuel, removing carbon, tar and varnishes from a number of internal components including fuel injectors, injection pumps, combustion chambers, valves, manifolds, oxygen sensors and even the cat, before the fuel lines are rejoined.

Before anything else however, Gerry, our technician, carried out a diagnostic interrogation to see if any faults have been logged in the electronic ‘brain’; a safety check for owner and workshop alike. In fact, a past fuel fault was flagged up but nothing major and probably a fuel filter AutoCentre Rushden told us.
Indeed, other TerraClean centres we’ve used before claim that they frequently, and successfully, treat vehicles that are failing MoT emission tests or may be having running faults that can’t be rectified by conventional means without undue expense.

Fuel for thought

The (fuel) burning question is… does TerraClean work? Naturally, the more off-song the car, then the greater the gains of the TerraClean treatment. Previously, we’ve experienced good successes, particularly on a BMW 323i where, apart from a notable improvement in pep (due to its VANOS variable valve timing kicking in earlier and with more vigour), a secondary emissions test further revealed that an MoT pass improvement had also been gained whereas before the Hydrocarbons were way too high.

Improvements with our newer, fresher, healthier Golf R32 weren’t so noticeable; it certainly felt smoother and crisper but nothing significant. However, a quick but law abiding return trip to Essex revealed a welcome gain in fuel economy where the car’s fuel computer showed 37.5mpg!

Now, these instruments aren’t terribly accurate we know, but subsequent checks – by both using the readout and gauging our wallet – have proved to us that this 3.2V6 (hardly noted for its economy) is now using less fuel.

Finally, there’s a footnote to our earlier impressions concerning performance gains. A recent run on a (known and reliably accurate) rolling road with an engine dynometer saw 251bhp recorded – some 5bhp over the quoted VW figure. As our car is in completely standard tune, but possibly in need of a service, surely the TerraClean treatment must have contributed to this power gain?

Costs vary according to engine sizes and location. RRPs start at £110 (cars up to 2000cc) and go up dependent upon engine size but generally it’s around £120 and we think it’s money well spent.

TerraClean says that, ideally, the treatment should be carried out annually, perhaps as part of a service, but we think few will go this far.

However, we’d certainly recommend having any classic treated before you contemplate further performance tuning. Which brings us to a final pertinent point: Say you’re after some more poke from your classic – how much will orthodox hotting up cost when in fact just returning the engine to ‘as new as possible’ standards may be all that’s needed? You’d be hard pushed to gain a five brake horsepower for £120! So before you splash out on exotic hardware that may also affect your insurance premium (see last month’s issue – copies available-ed) why not try to get the most out of what you’ve got by a simple dose of automotive Epsom Salts?


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