Blow it out your carburetor

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Carburetor

Carburetors don't exist in most vehicles built after 1980, so you don't need to run the engine hard to clean them out. Image: Flickr / phiso.child / CC-BY

Until the 1980s, vehicles were built with carburetors. During this time, the best practices of driving included a long, high-speed drive now and again to “blow out the carburetor.” Many people still believe it is a good idea to drive fast now and again in order to “blow out” the engine.

The story of blowing out the carburetor

Carburetors are devices built into internal combustion engines to assist with combustion. Carburetors blend fuel and air to make it easier for the fuel to burn. Many vehicles were built with either two or four carburetors. Each barrel opens up in succession as the vehicle requires more fuel. If a vehicle isn’t driven fast or hard enough, the fuel and carbon begin to dry in a barrel and become gummy, reducing engine performance. Conventional wisdom dictated that a vehicle be driven at high speed in order to blast the gummed-up material from the carburetor barrels.

Don’t blow out what doesn’t exist

Unless you are driving a vehicle that was built during or before the mid-1980s, your vehicle likely does not have carburetors. This means that there is no reason to drive a vehicle at high speeds or floor the accelerator to blow out carburetors. In fact, fuel-injected vehicles are built in such a way that they can be run under 3,000 rpm for their lifetime.

Treat vehicles according to age

Vehicle technology has changed significantly in the last 100 years. The best practices for driving change as major changes to engine construction occur. Unless you are a mechanic or gear-head, the best way to get the most miles out of any engine is to follow the manufacturer’s best practices outlined in the vehicle manual. If you have an older vehicle with a carburetor, rev up the engine to blow out the gunk. Keep in mind, however, that engines in newer vehicles can be damaged by such jackrabbit starts and fast stops.

Sources:

HowStuffWorks
Popular Mechanics 1953
Wikipedia Carburetor

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