COVID Effects on Internal Combustion Engines

The other victims of Covid less often recognized, are the damaged Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) engines.

Driving Ultra short Distances Effects Your Car’s Engine

Since people are more sedentary, staying home and or driving ultra short distances their car’s engines take a massive beating by water dilution. Today’s ICE engines are a refinement of an extraordinary effort to make them more efficient, therefore the piston rings are a shadow of their former selves literally.

Suffice to say the same principle applies to the entire internal architecture of the engine, therefore you need less energy to keep things in motion, hence their higher efficiency in generally speaking.

Unfortunately there are some negative aspects to this fine engineering marvel. The thin piston rings combined with the help of turbocharging, adds additional pressure to the combustion chamber, therefore the blow by volume is way more intensive than on a normally aspirated engine.

German Manufacturers Run Their Crankcase Ventilation System Under Negative Pressure

To make matters worse, most European (read German) manufacturers run their crankcase ventilation system under negative pressure to reduce pumping losses, to increase the efficiency even further. Unfortunately when you only drive ultra short distances the condensation from the blow by will accumulate inside the crankcase and since the skinny low tension rings can’t do much about it will reach a terminal point where water will get sucked up upon cold start and or the cappuccino alike frothy oil and water mix will destroy the fragile internal components.

German drivers use their car only if it is driven at a longer distance.

From my humble experience, there are no German drivers who will start their monster autobahn burner engine, if they could afford one per say as the fuel is so expensive at $2.50+ a liter. They use their car only if it is driven at a longer distance. Therefore the engine goes through a proper heat cycle, allowing the pistons to expand, the oil to get hot and allow the condensed water to be boiled off in the process.

It’s actually a simple chemistry where O2 burned with HC will form H2O in the process which by itself is harmless to the combustion process. Unfortunately if the same engine is driven ultra short distances the water accumulation will have detrimental, often fatal consequences to the engines delicate internal components.

Here are a few examples of a couple of COVID related BMW engine failures by the help of condensed water ingestion.

Picture #1: BMW M3 S65 piston rings with miniature oil scraper ring holes. How long do you think it takes to get them clogged up by infrequent oil changes?

Picture #2:  Old 944 Turbo sizable piston rings.

Picture #3 #4: The piston ring tension difference between a N55 BMW and an S65 BMW engines. The later has way more tension due to performance oriented application versus low tension N55 piston rings which ones were designed for high efficiency by low tensions naturally making things worst due to turbocharging.

 Visit our Facebook for more and bigger imagesDamaged BMW pistons with piston rings

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