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3 Automotive Problems Caused by Fuel Varnish Deposits

canister of gasoline
Gasoline possesses a natural degree of volatility. The longer gas sits inside of your car's fuel tank, the more likely the gas is to change on a chemical level. The hydrocarbons that make up gasoline's backbone readily interact with atmospheric oxygen in a process known as oxidation.
Oxidation causes the chemical structure of the gasoline to change, generally in ways you don't want. Not only will the gas provide less energy when combusted, but the formation of substances known as varnishes can lead to deposits building up on your engine components. Most gasoline blends contain detergents meant to minimize the accumulation of varnish.
However, fuel varnish may still build up to problematic levels, especially inside of your fuel injectors. If you would like to learn more about some of the problems that fuel varnish can cause for your car, keep reading. This article will outline three issues that may stem from excessive fuel varnish deposits.
1. Misfiring
Misfiring is one of the most common problems caused by varnish deposits - as well as one of the most noticeable. Misfiring involves one or more cylinders where combustion fails to occur. For a car with a fourcylinder engine, if even a single cylinder misfires, overall power levels will drop by the 25 percent of power that cylinder usually provides.
The uneven forces generated by misfiring will likely cause your engine to begin shaking or vibrating. Such vibrations can travel up your steering column, often causing your steering wheel itself to shake and rattle. In addition, your engine may struggle to turn over when starting your car and may be more prone to stalling when at a standstill.
The problem here involves varnish deposits that have restricted the flow of fuel from the injector into the cylinder. This restriction may be partial or complete. Even a partial restriction can lead to misfiring, if it skews the air-to-fuel ratio too far in the air direction.
2. Engine Overheating
Even if varnish deposits in your fuel injectors don't cause misfiring, they can still have other adverse effects. Most of these stem from the unwanted changes in the air-to-fuel ratio. When fuel levels drop below normal, the resulting mixture goes by the name of lean fuel. Unfortunately, lean fuel not only hurts your car's power, but it also leads to higher engine temperatures.
The gasoline in your cylinders does more than just provide a material for combustion. The gas also helps cool off the piston chamber. Lean fuel simply doesn't contain enough gasoline to perform this vital function. As a result, combustion temperatures will rise dangerously, putting pistons and other engine components at risk of damage or failure.
3. Decreased Fuel Economy
Both of the problems discussed above will usually be accompanied by a decrease in your car's fuel economy. In the case of misfiring, especially, precious fuel will be wasted every time a cylinder fails to combust. This uncombusted fuel will pass out of your car's exhaust system into the atmosphere.
Varnish deposits can hurt fuel economy even when they do not reduce the volume of fuel entering your cylinder enough to cause misfiring. For combustion to take place efficiently, the fuel must enter the cylinder as a fine mist. The presence of deposits often causes the fuel to trickle and drip into the cylinder instead.
The less finely dispersed the fuel, the less efficiently it will burn. As a result, you will likely find yourself having to refuel your car more frequently than usual.
For more information on how to prevent varnish deposits from adversely affecting your car, please contact the automotive experts at Corporate Auto Works.