Pro advice on how to improve your car performance
There are many ways to impact the performance of a car but the most simple and often very effective way is by keeping the car “healthy”.
Try to think of your car like a human body. Only a healthy body can achieve high performance.
The car’s blood is the oil system:
In humans healthy blood and smooth blood circulation is one area that impacts our body performance. In the car it is the oil system. Much like human blood, the car's lubricants have crucial tasks. Lubricating the right engine and transmission parts over a long period of time and during various circumstances like a cold start in freezing temperatures, high heat in slow city traffic or when driving top speed on the motorway. Lubrication is just one of the oils features. Heat transmission, maintaining sealants and even preventing your exhaust from clogging due to ash are some of the other features. For most cars the oil system consists of the engine oil, automatic transmission oil / ATF or manual gearbox oil, differential oil and steering wheel fluid (often an ATF).
- Always clean and flush out old sludge from the oil system when changing oil. Premium lubricants can only perform well in a clean environment. Sludge and deposits will shorten the lifetime of new oil and prevent the engine from running well.
- Only use high quality lubricants that fit perfectly to your engine and transmission. Pay attention that all lubricants have the approval from the car manufacturer. OEM approvals are mentioned on the oil label. Don’t mix them up with the list of OEM standards that the oil manufacturer recommends the oil to be used for as this is only a one sided recommendation by the oil manufacturer and the lubricant was not tested and approved by the car manufacturer. Lubricants are car parts and must fit. Unfortunately every lubricant can be poured into the engine and sold as a fit but once you start the engine, the driver will soon notice if the lubricant fits the car.
- Select an OEM approved lubricant that ALSO fits your driving behaviour and environment. Lubricants are very much impacted by various factors such as driving in city traffic vs. highway, cold or hot climate, fuel qualities and much more. Another important aspect to consider is the trade off between fuel efficiency and oil consumption. Most of the time you want to focus on a low fuel consumption and accept a higher oil consumption and evaporation that usually is caused by low oil viscosities like 0W20, 5W20 and 5W30. In order to select the right oil you need to study the oil datasheets and check values such as Pour Point, Flash Point, Evaporation loss and TBN (Total Base Number). Double check if the data sheet is for the lubricant you are looking at as oil brands that produce their products in several countries tend to use one international name for their lubricant but the actual ingredients and performance is different for each factory. This selection step is very complex and requires a detailed understanding of lubricants but don’t worry. This is why we send our members a questionnaire so that our experts can select the right lubricants for you.
- Oil Additives. There are many different oil additives on the market from good and bad aftermarket brands. Their ingredients are very diverse. Some are useless or even bad and others are fantastic. Good additives have their price and definitely make sense as their impact is great. Keep in mind to apply the additives correctly and in the right proportions. Usually you should not add much more than 5% of the engine oil volume in additives as it will impact the engine oil too much. Our Super Plus Maintenance Plan will include our favourite oil additives.
- Never buy cheap lubricants! Buying cheap ends up to be much more expensive in the long run. Modern lubricants are a mix of a base oil and an additive package. Both the base oil and the additive package have huge impacts on the performance. Additive packages have important functions like maintaining the stability of the oil (viscosity stabilizer) or maintaining the sealants and therefore pressure in the engine as well as preventing oil leaks. When you save a few bucks on your oil you will get a low grade base oil with a very small additive package. The additive package is the most expensive ingredient and therefore is the priority to cut costs. Base oils are often byproducts of refineries and oil companies that process the crude tend to try to sell their own oil that comes out of their refineries as a side product. The quality is not always the best and these companies tend to focus on selling a lot of lubricant for a low price vs. selling the best lubricant for your car. Independent premium oil manufacturers tend to produce much better quality as they can source the best raw materials from a wide range of suppliers.You will feel a difference as soon you switch to such a cheap oil but more importantly you will most likely end up with high operating costs due to higher fuel consumption (can be quickly 5% more fuel consumption and that is a lot over one year), higher oil consumption, shorter oil change intervals and costly yet unnecessary repairs such as exchanging the engine sealants (costing several hundred bucks including the labor), clogged DPF or catalytic converters (can cost more than a thousand bucks to repair).
- Be very careful when it comes to your car's automatic transmission. The automatic transmission is one of the most expensive parts of any car and it is very sensitive to the transmission fluid. Typical impacts are the speed of switching gear and the speed of the car's acceleration, surface friction and heat in the transmission, lubrication in very cold temperatures and build up of sludge that can block gears. There are many different categories of transmissions as this part is very diverse in their setup from model to model. Dual clutch transmission or continuously variable transmission (CVT) are two of the many transmission types with special requirements. In the olden days mechanics selected the transmission fluid based on the colors of the oil but this is no longer a good idea. You should strictly follow the OEM approvals for transmission oil and change the fluid at least according to your car’s manufacturer instructions (most of the time every 60.000km and 3 years, whichever comes first). Some car manufacturers speak of lifetime fluids in their transmissions and say that you never have to change the transmission oil. We advise against that especially if you want the car to last long or maintain its value and recommend you to change the transmission oil every 60.000km in these cars.
The car’s stomach is the fuel system:
We humans drink and eat to power up our organism. The car consumes fuel. Like our food the quality of fuel and the types of fuel vary. Different RON numbers indicate the Octane in Benzin or Cetan in Diesel and result in higher or lower power per Liter. Fuel loses its quality over time and can be subject to corrosion, bacteria and mixing with water either in the tanks of the petrol station or in the tank of your car. The fuel system of a car consists of the fuel tank, the fuel pump, the fuel filter and ends in through an injector in the engine's combustion chamber, where it should burn in the most efficient way.
- Let’s start with an easy one: Use the right fuel type for your car. Do not choose benzin with a lot less RON/Octane. Your car needs 95 Super, don’t go for 92 Regular. You can choose fuel with 3 points higher Octane but also do not make big jumps. The software of modern engines are adjusted to one specific fuel type and once you choose a wrong one they act against it. Lower Octane results in more fuel pumped into the engine, inefficient burning and in the end bad performance.
- Keep the fuel system clean. Especially nowadays a lot of cars are just being used for short drives within the city and consume very little fuel over a long period of time. Each day a little bit of humidity enters the fuel system and water is being built up in the tank. In humid places this happens faster than in dry climates. Hybrid cars are usually the ones most affected by this as they tend to have the longest refueling intervals as well as cars that are being driven just in winter or summer after staying in the garage for several months. Besides the water also bacteria and corrosion build up in the tank. The water does not mix well with the fuel and therefore it can happen that the fuel system sucks in a lot of water with nearly no fuel. This can quickly result in big damages in the engine. This is an extreme case but also with just a little water in the tank your engine will not perform well and can break down over time. Corrosion particles as well as bacteria put the entire fuel system under stress as well. In order to prevent these problems you can add certain fuel additives that will clean and safely move out all the water, bacteria and most of the corrosion from your fuel system. You simply fill up your tank, add an additive and drive the tank empty. It is recommended to repeat this process twice a year.
- Keep the injectors clean. Injectors depending on the fuel quality build up deposits. These deposits prevent a clean spray in process with small fuel droplets in the combustion chamber. With bigger droplets ending up in the combustion chamber the explosion slows down and some fuel will not be burnt properly. This remaining fuel ends up to damage your engine oil and increases the emission. Your car will also consume more fuel to compensate for the loss in power. You can either replace the injectors when they are dirty but with the required work hours this can become quickly expansive. A cheaper and quicker way is to use a good injection cleaner fuel additive every 5.000km, the additive usually also lubricates your fuel pump and removes water and bacteria from the fuel tank.
The car’s lungs is the air system:
Air is as important as fuel for a good explosion and burning process. As we all know from starting a campfire, blowing more air into the fire speeds up the burning process. Without air the car will behave much like a human and lose its power. The amount of air flowing into the engine is regulated by the Throttle Valve, which opens and closes the air intake. The MAF Airflow sensor is measuring the volume of air passing the air intake pipe. Both the Throttle Valve and MAF Airflow Sensor have to be kept clean in order to work properly.
Besides the right quantity of air it is also important that the air is clean, which is the task of the engine air filter. The engine air filter gets often overlooked, not kept clean and used for too long especially in dusty environments. The air system of sports engines is very sensitive and by maintaining it correctly the engine will produce a lot more power.
Once the air (Oxygen O2) was injected into the combustion chamber and ignites with the fuel it is turned into the car’s emission (a mixture of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other particles). It is crucial for the engine’s performance that these emissions are moving quickly through the exhaust system of the car. Otherwise the airflow jams, which will slow down the combustion, cause several problems along the exhaust system and increase the toxic emissions. In order to avoid this the air outflow and exhaust system should be kept clean and maintained well. Wrong engine oils cause big damages in the exhaust system, like for example breaking DPF filters due to high ash contents. This is major reason why you should always select the right oil with OEM approval for your car and not choose an oil based on viscosity or oil brand.
- Keep your engine air filter clean and exchange it on time. The air filter is located most of the times on top of the engine and is easy to access. Open the cover and take it out frequently. Shake it for dust particles to fall off and place it back in the engine. In case it is not close to clean or damaged it is time to put in a new filter. Your car manufacturer instructions for the exchange interval of the air filter are usually based on a clean environment and not a dusty or sandy environment. When driving offroad and following another car, the dust from the car in front of you quickly pollutes your engine air filter.
- Clean your MAF Sensor and do it correctly! The MAF Sensor measures air particles and is extremely sensitive. You can take it out of the engine very easily. Never touch the actual sensor front of it and just hold it on the back during the entire process. You clean it with special MAF Sensor cleaning sprays by spraying the fluid around 10 seconds on the sensor. Afterwards you hold the sensor for a few minutes (5-10minutes) and the remaining fluid will evaporate. Please do not use Parts cleaner or other cleaning fluids and never whip the front of the sensor. It is good to clean the sensor once a year.
- Clean your Throttle Valve. The Throttle Valve builds up small dirt deposits over time. You can clean it by using a special Throttle Valve cleaning spray, that can be easily applied by spraying it into the Throttle Valve.
- Keep the exhaust system clean. Most important for this step is to use the right OEM approved engine oil for your car. With a wrong engine oil the exhaust will get clogged and can not regenerate or get cleaned. You will end up having a costly replacement of the catalytic converter or DPF filter in your car. You can clean and regenerate the catalytic converter or DPF filter by driving above 100km/h for about 30 to 60 minutes. The heat in the system will burn and remove the emission particles. This process happens automatically if you regularly drive at higher speeds but does not happen if you only drive in low speed city traffic. Another effective way is to use fuel additives (DPF cleaner for Diesel cars with DPF and Catalytic System Cleaner for Benzin cars).
The car’s skin to cool the temperature is the radiator system:
The human body is very sensitive to temperature changes and ends up having a fever when the temperature moves too much. In extreme cases it causes death. The engine in a car is behaving quite similarly. Engines have an ideal operating temperature and break if they overheat.
Much of the temperature control of a human is done by the skin by sweating. Engines are cooled mainly by the radiator and also by the outside air as well as the engine oil. When standing in traffic in a hot climate the engine is only being cooled by the radiator as there is no airflow and oil gets very hot (especially bad oil without good friction additives).
The radiator located in the front of the engine consists of the radiator and the pipes that transport the cooled cooling fluid to the engine and the hot cooling fluid back to the radiator.
Radiators are often being overlooked so be sure to follow our Pro advice.
- Check frequently if your radiator has enough fluid inside as indicated on the tank placed under the engine hood. In the event your fluid level is low, top up the radiator with the right radiator antifreeze. Avoid the mistake of selecting your antifreeze by the color of it and check for OEM approved products that fit the standards of your engine. This is very important on modern cars and sport engines.
- Don’t forget to exchange your radiator fluid. The range of recommended radiator liquid exchange intervals is huge. Bad ones should be changed every year and good ones can stay very long. We recommend to exchange good ones at least every three years or 150.000km or according to the radiator fluid specification or the vehicle manufacturer instructions, whichever is first. Again do not choose the radiator fluid based on the color but check for the OEM approvals. Do not skip radiator fluid by using just plain water. You can either choose a ready mix fluid or you can buy usually cheaper and better radiator liquid concentrates. The concentrate gives you the benefit that you can dose the mix yourself and decide the freezing point. The concentrate is also good for a top up of the radiator fluid. The freezing point is the lowest temperature the radiator fluid can handle before it freezes, so add about -10 Degrees Celsius to the lowest temperatures you will face at night during winter. Some radiator fluids claim unrealistic low temperatures (e.g.: -60 Celsius), this is most of the time not true therefore select a trustworthy brand. Cheap radiator fluids are often based on alcohol, which causes problems in the long term. Try to avoid them. Mix the concentrate with bottled water or distilled water. Tap water is fine in some regions but can be also bad depending on the quality. Clean the radiator system when exchanging the fluid. This is an easy process when you flush out the old fluid. Simply add a radiator cleaning liquid in the radiator and flush the system three times afterwards with tap water.
- You can protect your radiator against small stone chips that hit the radiator. Small stones can hit your radiator and cause a leak quickly. These leaks are usually hard to repair and the radiator needs to be replaced and your trip will be interrupted as a radiator without fluid will result in an overheating engine that will soon break. Never drive without radiator fluid! To prevent this there are small radiator additives that you pour into the radiator. The additive contains small flakes that close the leak from the inside within seconds and you will only have to worry about larger leaks.
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