The dust raised by construction can GREATLY increase the wear on your engine. Under normal driving conditions, about 0.04 grams per hour of dust is inhaled by your engine (past the air filter). Near construction areas, figures of 86.7 grams per hour are not uncommon (2,186 times as much!) The majority of this dust is silica (about 70 percent), a highly efficient abrasive. Abrasive wear is the common cause of engine wear. In a recent engine study by a bearing manufacturer, more bearings failed due to dirt in the engine than to lack of lubrication by 43 percent versus 15 percent.

  1. Change your filters on an accelerated schedule (oil, gas and air). As the dirt increases in the filter, it's ability to keep dirt out of your engine goes down. You lose power due to restricted engine breathing and more dirt winds up in your engine. Use the best filters you can find. Like the commercial implies, and extra dollar spent on a good filter is much cheaper than several thousand spent on an engine rebuild. Most cheap filters simply do not do the job.
  2. Try to avoid (as much as possible) driving through dusty areas. Do not drive behind trucks that are raising dust, and in extreme dust situations pull off the road and YOU COULD TURN OFF YOUR ENGINE.
  3. Keep the engine compartment clean, especially near the air intakes. Washing your car should include the engine compartment. Dawn dishwashing soap, or laundry detergent soap works well.
  4. CHANGE YOUR OIL AND FILTER! 3.000 miles is the absolute limit under these conditions. 2,000 is even better. Also, use the best oil you can find. Don't be mislead by commercial claims that any oil can last for 12,000 miles. The oil may be fine, but the stuff accumulating in the oil will definitely hurt your engine.

Specifically, for every 100 gallons of gas you burn, your engine will produce:

  • 90 - 100 gallons of water
  • 3 - 10 gallons of unburned fuel
  • 1/2 - 2 pounds of sludge
  • 1/4 - 1 pound of resin and varnishes
  • 1 - 5 pounds of nitric and sulfuric acids
  • 6 - 10 ounces of insoluble lead salts
  • 1 - 2 ounces of hydrochloric and hydrobromic acids, and more.

That's a lot for the engine and especially the oil, to deal with. Some of these nasties exit in exhaust, some remain in the engine oil unless vaporized, some stay until the oil is changed. Use a high quality gas from a reputable vendor. Never fill your car when gas is being delivered; the sludge from the bottom of the stations storage tank will be stirred up and get in your car tank.

Originally printed by the Windy City Chapter in their Windy City Breeze.