Last Updated at
- 12:00 pm, September 18, 2011
Is there really an easy way to better your car?
Not too long ago we skimmed over the topic of additives , telling you that they could help make your car a better machine. I’m going to expand on that today. First off, why the need for additives? The answer is simple: your car is built to a cost. As such, the components aren’t the best they can be. Of course, there’s no need to go out and get exotic components that cost more than the car originally did, but there are a few things you can do to improve on what you’ve already got. The easiest of these things is additives.
Broadly speaking, additives are things you can add to existing fluids to make them better. One such additive is fuel additive. Injector cleaner (or carburettor cleaner, if you’re using a really old car) is useful because it prevents injectors from gumming up. See, the injector is nothing but a nozzle that turns the fuel into a fine spray just before it enters the combustion chamber, or cylinder. Think of a pichkari that you use at Holi, or the kind of spray that exits the hose at your friendly neighbourhood car pressure-washing centre.
Carburettors also perform the same operation as fuel injectors, and therefore have to let the fuel go through tiny holes that can get clogged if the fuel is bad, or the car hasn’t been used for a very long time, letting the fuel evaporate and leave residue behind. Additives are also present in branded fuels like Speed or Power, and they claim to do the same thing: keep your fuel delivery system and engine free from blockages and carbon deposits, which will reduce the engine’s efficiency, both in terms of power and fuel efficiency.
To explain what octane booster does, we’ll have to backpedal to what engine compression is. When the fuel and air are sucked into the cylinder and squeezed, it is compressed to a fraction of its original size. Since it is a gas, we won’t say ‘size’, we’ll call it ‘volume’ – as in ‘cc’ or ‘litres’. If the volume is compressed to a tenth of the original, the compression ratio is 10:1. The more the compression ratio, the more efficient your engine will be – but then, the more sensitive it will be to bad fuel. That’s why most of our petrol engines do not have high compression ratios.
However, with increasing demands from everyone involved, they have no choice but to increase the compression ratio and this presents a unique problem to the petrol engine, which needs the fuel/air mixture to be ignited with the spark – that of the fuel exploding by itself, much that diesel engines do. This is extremely bad for the engine and today’s car computers compensate for this ‘knocking’ or ‘pinging’ automatically. However, this still leads to increased wear and tear on engine components and reduced efficiency.
What you can do if you have a high compression engine (second generation Honda City owners, Skoda Octavia petrol owners and all premium German petrol car owners, we’re talking to you) is add octane booster to your fuel to help your engine. The bottle you see in the image is a 350-odd ml bottle, but it will suffice for a tankful of gas. To the regular Joe like you and me, it won’t offer more performance, but it will certainly improve low-rev drivability of a high-compression engine.
First Published on 12:00 pm, September 18, 2011