Niagara Gazette

Features

May 16, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: A little bit of automotive alchemy

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — It seems that everyone is looking for the magic elixir, the “Engine Extender,” the “Fountain of Youth,” the “Mechanic in a Can.” Is this a reasonable quest? Companies that make these products claim that, by using their oil additive, the oil in your engine performs better and lasts longer. Unfortunately, the intense claims of these products give people a false sense of security. As a result, people put off oil and filter changes and the consequence is often premature engine failure.

An actual account recorded by Consumer Reports duplicated the test seen in the infomercial for the engine-oil additive Prolong to see if the product really does offer extra engine protection. The commercial said it added Prolong to the engine’s oil supply, then drained the oil and ran the car with no oil plugs or filters. The product makers say they ran the car with no oil for four hours without damaging the engine. (The infomercial has a small-print disclaimer: “Never run your car without oil or water.”) Testers at Consumer Reports used two former taxicabs with rebuilt GM V6 engines when they duplicated the infomercial test. After breaking the engines in, and changing their oil, they added Prolong to only one car, and drove them both more than 100 miles. Then they drained the oil and removed the filters, just like in the infomercial. Next, testers drove the cars around a test track to see what would happen. “We drove the cars around the test track at speeds between 20 and 30 miles per hour,” Consumer Reports tester Marc McEntee said. “We were able to go for 13 minutes, 5 miles, until both cars died within about 100 yards of one another.” Testers later took the engines apart. The damage to both engines, including the one with Prolong, was extensive.

Consumer Reports says save your money. Don’t buy the oil additives and make sure to keep your eye on your oil gauge. My recommendation: Change your oil and filter every 3,000-5,000 miles OR what’s recommended in your owner’s manual or oil life monitor and drink from the Automotive Fountain of Youth!

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