The right fuel

BY Jim Kerr. Aug 18 04:00 am

Our vehicles are perhaps the costliest single item we purchase next to our homes, so keeping them in good shape makes sense to ensure they serve their purpose for many years.

Regular maintenance of our vehicles helps keep them going, but there is a surprisingly easy way to also help protect your vehicle — fill it with the right fuel.

Not all fuels are created equal. In Canada, there are regulations regarding the basic standards for fuel, but these are basic minimum requirements. Many of the Auto Manufacturers have agreed on a higher standard called “Top Tier” fuel, which has a higher level of additives in it to help keep emissions systems working properly. In Canada, many of the name brand fuels meet these standards. Shell has been very vocal about being better than even the Top Tier standard by increasing their additive content. I have seen the results for myself.

With Shell V-Power gasoline, the engine is much cleaner inside. During normal engine operation, deposits form on critical parts. Carbon deposits start to form on the back side of intake valves and this disrupts the fuel flow into the cylinders which increases fuel consumption and decreases power. Direct fuel injection has reduced some of this carbon buildup but there is still some caused by oils in the engine. Deposits that form in the combustion chamber, creating uneven combustion, are reduced. Finally, deposits are prevented from forming on the tips of fuel injectors, creating uneven fuel spray patterns which significantly affect engine performance. I have inspected many engines and I have seen these deposits. I have also seen how Shell V-Power gasoline will remove them even when already formed.

To do this, Shell Scientists found a way of adding nitrogen molecules to the fuel additive package, which is part of what helps clean the deposits. This fuel is called V-Power Nitro. Now, Shell has improved the fuel even further and the fuel is called V-Power Nitro+.

Joe Russo, a Shell Fuel Scientist responsible for developing fuel additive packages for North America, explained to me the new additive package.

While the actual chemicals and formula remain a guarded secret, Joe’s team has succeeded in making an additive package that reduces engine wear while at the same time keeping all the cleaning properties the fuel already had. Most of the engine wear occurs in the top part of its combustion chamber and on the tips of direct fuel injectors. This is the area subjected to the greatest heat, highest pressures and least amount of lubrication. Piston rings and valve seals are designed to keep the engine oil out of the combustion chamber. Combine this with the effect of fuel washing away any lubrication that remains and you get wear in the combustion chamber.

This is especially noticeable during cold starts, when extra fuel is injected into the cylinders and not all the fuel burns because it can’t atomize quick enough. I have worked on older vehicles from California that had very little engine wear due to always starting in warm weather, while a Canadian vehicle with similar mileage would have significant wear due to cold starts. The additive package in Shell’s V-Power Nitro+ fuel provides protection against wear in these critical areas. As the fuel enters the engine, the additive package temporarily coats engine parts to decrease metal-to-metal contact and reduces the wear. Continued use of the fuel will help protect those parts.

Part of Shell’s fuel research includes their partnership with Scuderia Ferrari and Formula 1 racing. Working with Ferrari since 1950, Shell has over 50 technical staff and 21,000 hours of work invested each year in developing fuels and oil for the Formula 1 team. The fuel used during a race almost identical to what you buy at the local Shell filling station and engine longevity is important on the race track as it is to your vehicle. You may not be aware that Formula 1 regulations limit each race team to only four engines for the complete 20 race season. Any item that protects those engines and delivers the most performance is highly sought after and Shell’s V-Power Nitro+ is doing that. It can help protect your engine too, especially during cold starts when engine wear occurs the most.

james.kerr@sasktel.net