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Terra-ising your classic! Published: 28th Aug 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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If your car’s engine feels under the weather, why not treat it to a spot of TerraClean to make it feel better?

Terra (as in Earth) Clean originates from a group of environmentally-conscious Canadian physicists who, on behalf of car maker General Motors, were attempting to create an emissionfree 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 down and discovered it was incredibly clean as a result of the fuel and so TerraClean was invented and it’s been marketed in the UK for over a year by Randstad Ltd, a leading automotive supplier for more than 30 years – and is 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.

Of course Epsom Salts for engines is nothing new and most of us have probably carried out the time honoured ‘Power in an hour’ Redex trick of pouring this upper cylinder lubricant down the engine’s bores and letting it soak in before giving it some revs – with the resultant clouds of white smoke! What TerraClean has done has drag the practice into the 21st Century claiming increased pep and economy plus reduced emissions.


We used our project BMW 323i as a guinea pig. With 106,000 miles on the clock, although it ran well enough it’s inevitable that some degree of deterioration has taken place. You can’t counteract 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, including diesels, and little used classics of all ages are ideal candidates where the engine may not get hot enough, even on a run, to fully purge itself.

Our TerraClean was carried out by Vortex Performance Exhausts of Essex an authorised TerraClean service centre. Before anything else, a basic MoT emissions test was carried out and our car failed it due to excessive Hydrocarbons!

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 40 minutes but the actual job can be quite lengthy due to how easy, or hard, it is to tap into the fuel line – a diffi cult job on a modernish BMW unlike the majority of classics! The engine is simply run on this cleaning fuel removing carbon, tar and varnishes from internal components including fuel injectors, injection pumps, combustion chambers, valves, manifolds and oxygen sensors, before the fuel lines are rejoined.

In fact Vortex told us that it frequently treats vehicles that are failing emission tests or have a running fault that can’t be fi xed by conventional means without undue expense for the owner.

Although it wasn’t part of the TerraClean service, we opted to also change the engine oil and fi lter reasoning that it’s daft to go to all this time, expense and effort cleaning the engine’s internals yet still drive around on old dirty oil! Filter designs and so their performance do vary so we played safe with an OE Mahle one plus Millers semi-synthetic 20W/50 Motorsport lube for good measure.


Obviously the more off-song the engine, then the greater the gains of the TerraClean treatment and on our car we found it gave a pretty surprising improvement, rather like what an old fashioned points and plugs tune up achieves.

Reports from a number of drivers who are familiar with the car say performance feels a god deal sharper and smoother with a quite bit more zest under the right foot – probably to levels when it left the showroom. Certainly the VANOS variable valve timing this engine features kicks in earlier and with more vigour.

A post treatment emissions test also revealed that an MoT pass improvement had also been achieved so obviously TerraClean works!

The cost is £108 although prices vary according to engine sizes and we think it’s money well spent especially if you indulge in some lateral thinking.

Say you are after some more poke for 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?

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. But we’d recommend having any classic treated before you contemplate any tuning.

So before you splash out on exotic hardware that may also affect your insurance premium why not try to get the most out of what you’ve got by a simple spot of cleansing your classic’s inner soul?

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