Ever wonder if there is an iota of truth in fuel commercials that claim their products actually clean the insides of your car's engine in order for it to perform optimally and run the way it should? No, not those little people with broomsticks scrubbing away inside the mill, but the effectiveness of the additives that are present in the fuel you load into your car's tanks. Well, we, too, wonder from time to time. Fortunately, Caltex, the fuel brand that claims this the most, has actually showed proof that its advertising is true.
Braving its peers' scrutiny, Chevron, the company that is better known by its fuel brand Caltex, conducted a test early this year to see how much of an effect its exclusive fuel additive, Techron, has in cleaning the innards of a gasoline-fed combustion engine. Based on the compound called Polyetheramine or PEA, Techron works to remove deposits left behind by low-quality gasoline. Furthermore, according to yesterday's presentation of product engineering specialist Jude Porras before a group of journalists, Techron also works on the molecular level to prevent the formation of deposits in the combustion chamber.
Partnering with Bosch, Chevron brought in its engineers from abroad to conduct an inspection of the intake valves of volunteer cars that use other locally available fuels. Using an image-taking instrument called a borescope, the Chevron engineers were able to peer inside the engine's cylinder head and combustion chamber to take photos of the intake valves and piston tops.
"We hired a third-party contractor and asked them to look for random volunteers," Porras said. The main consideration for the test is that the volunteer cars must be non-Caltex fuel users. "To speed up the process, we introduced high concentration of Techron into the engines and topped them up with a full tank of fuel," he added. The vehicles were then made to come back to the Bosch Technical Center in Pasong Tamo, Makati, after three to four days to be re-inspected.
Using a 2003 Honda Civic running purely on Caltex Silver 93 with Techron as the control vehicle, the engineer showed how clean the intake valves had been kept by the fuel additive even after 117,000km of running. Using the standards promoted by the Coordinating Research Council Intake Valve Ratings--a scale with 1 being the lowest score and 10 being the highest and cleanest--the photos on the presentation showed the Civic's valves almost deposit-free with an average score of 9.2. A second control vehicle, a Honda CR-V with 107,000km on the odometer, showed similar results with the same fuel.
Aside from the Techron additive, Porras attributes the effectiveness of Caltex fuels in preventing deposit formation to the fact that they do not contain two controversial metal-based additives. According to the product engineering specialist, manganese, a Research Octane Number (RON) rating booster that has the side effect of fouling spark plugs and rendering catalytic converters ineffective, and ferrocene, an additive that creates red deposits on spark-plug tips leading to corrosion and eventual engine misfires, are not present in the additive cocktail of Caltex fuels.
The Caltex presenter then showed some examples of borescope photos from the test vehicles. A 1.3-liter Toyota Vios with an odometer reading of 25,000km running on a different brand of fuel initially averaged 6.9 on the scale. After it was treated with the Techron additive and re-inspected, its cleanliness score went up to 7.1.
A 1.5-liter Toyota Vios using a different 93 RON gasoline brand also showed an improvement from a score of 8.3 to 9.0 after only driving 232km with the Techron additive. Other test vehicles using non-Caltex fuels likewise showed improvements in intake valve cleanliness.
Now, if you're wondering if a bottle of Techron additive can simply be poured into your car's fuel tank and deliver similar results, the reps of Caltex are quick to clarify that the product is not available yet as a separate item. They did, however, state that Caltex is looking at a Techron-based injector and fuel cleaner to be launched by middle of 2014.
Do you find this Caltex presentation convincing?
Photos by Mikko David