David Reviews the Best Fuel System Cleaners

s someone who uses older cars most of the year, and is passionate about restoring them to their full glory, I have a secret to introduce you to: the magic of fuel systems cleaners.

Now, there can be any number of problems with an older car. The frames are probably rusting, so you’ll have to grind them down and then coat them to keep it from getting worse. You’ll almost certainly have to switch out the upholstery and mats, and I generally re-panel at least one interior every year because it’s in such rough shape. But for all the fixes you make, the biggest problem is usually the engine.

It’s just a fact of mechanical life that engines don’t age well. They lose power over time, and while you can focus on tweaking individual components and make small fixes, it’s often a subjective problem that’s hard to pin down. The whole engine is weaker than it should be for no apparent reason.

Well, there is one major reason that you won’t find in any diagram. It’s the fact that combustion engines that power our vehicles are dirty, dirty machines. They don’t burn as cleanly as we’d like them to, especially not on older cars. Older cars burn very dirty indeed, that’s why you’re not allowed to drive them without adding a catalytic converter these days. And if you can see all that smog going out into the air, it only stands to reason that the insides of the motor are gonna be dirty as well, right?

The fact is, all that gunk, soot, and accumulated filth is the main culprit in taking your engine’s horse pen and opening the gates. It slowly erodes your power so that no matter what you do, you can’t get your motor going at full steam. It’s not one component–your whole system is clogged, and you’re gonna have to give it a thorough cleaning.

That’s what fuel systems cleaners are designed to do. They basically scour every last inch from the fuel lines to the exhaust output, and get rid of all the soot and grime. It’s my solution for how to care for your car’s engine all at once–just use an all-in-one cleaner like these. Injector cleaners get it all, and since they’re washing around in the gas, they can do a better job cleaning into tricky spots than you can, trust me.

Now, generally, fuel system cleaners are made to be run through the fuel line. So you don’t have to do anything really mechanical, you just pour it in the gas cap and keep on driving. But I find that with a really old engine, you’re best advised to get a kit that you apply directly to the metal surfaces inside the engine when the car’s in the shop. 3M makes the best one I’ve found. It comes with some cleaner that you can spray with a wand into the combustion chamber to get all the internal parts directly.

So, if your old motor is lacking in power for no obvious reason, I’d say you should go out and get a fuel system cleaner. My advice is to get a kit for the best initial results, do the whole fuel line carefully, then use a down the hatch cleaner every couple months to keep things going smoothly.

My preference for an in the tank cleaner is something called BG44K. That’s the least technical name you’re gonna find for it, so just plug that into google. I like it because it’s the most concentrated one I’ve found to date, and that means you don’t have to use it nearly as often as the weaker varieties. It’s basically a professional grade solution, and most good mechanics keep a couple cans around for really tough messes. You don’t have to go for that one, though, since there are lots of different ones that each do something a bit differently. Read this article for a good overview of all the different kinds you can get.

Basically, you have to choose between something that you add to each tank, and something more concentrated that you’ll only feed in once every 6 months or so. Once you find one you like, make sure to buy it in bulk to save money. But then you’re good to go! Your motor will thank me.

How to Keep Classic Cars Running

When you’ve got a great classic car that you’ve lovingly restored, the last thing you want to do is keep it cooped up in the garage. But the fact is that a lot of older vehicles aren’t equipped to handle modern roads, for a whole bunch of reasons. Today, I’m looking at why that is, and what you can do to get your favorite set of wheels back on the road without breaking laws or breaking the bank.

Probably the biggest difference between cars from the mid 20th century and vehicles made today is the cooling systems. Today, we use pressurized cooling systems to keep engines from overheating. They’re more efficient at transferring heat than older car systems, so even though they make a lot of steam, they keep coolant from burning off. That’s not the case with older systems, which burn off coolant pretty constantly. You can pour in water as a quick fix, but that rusts things quickly and that’s not something you’re going to want with something you’ve paid an arm and a leg to restore. So I use something called Evans Waterless Coolant. It’s a coolant that works in older cars, and can be used to top things up whenever you need to without rusting any components. It’s pretty darn impressive, since it won’t boil and it won’t freeze unless you’re in a really extreme climate, so in my case I’ve been using the same bottle full in most of my vehicles for years without having to change it or add any.

Another big difference between classic cars and modern cars is that the generators on a current model are massive bigger than the old generators that used to power 20th century wheels. That’s mostly because we use so much more electronic gear in our cars these days. Even if you’re doing a fairly authentic restoration job, you have no choice but to upgrade your headlights and safety equipment, and most of us probably want to get a good stereo setup that will work today. If all that’s going to work properly, you have to fix the generator to make it more powerful. If you can afford it, one great component I’ve found is a Gener-Nator, which is a device that turns old generators into modern alternators. Darned if it doesn’t look exactly like the old generator, but I guarantee you won’t have any power dips or cuts with this thing running. Again, I use it in all my classic vehicles.

Since pretty much every older car is a stick shift, you have to deal with old transmissions which really aren’t as good as they used to be. One trick I’ve learned is that rather than trying to replace an old system, you can add manual transmission lubricant to the gearbox, which controls friction and balances the gears. It’s basically what we have in new automatic gearboxes. I haven’t slipped once since I’ve started using it, and it really takes care of all the guts of the tranny. Mine comes from Red Line Oil, but any number of lubricant companies should be able to help you out with some.

Last of all, you’re going to have to get the engine back to its prime. A fuel injector cleaner is helpful for getting the whole thing working more powerfully, and you might want to consider overhauling each of the injector caps, as well. The cleaner also helps to control emissions, which is something you should really consider when you’re making all your tweaks. No classic car is going to be as clean as a Prius, but you really should try to cut down on smog so that the other cars on the road can focus on how cool your car is instead of how badly it reeks.

Alright, those are my tips for driving classic cars in 2016. Hope you’ve enjoyed them.