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Is Redline Good For Your Car’s Engine? Italian Tune Up


Hello everyone and welcome I am sitting inside of a Maserati Quattroporte GTS Gran Sport and I thought while I’m driving this nice Italian car Why not answer the question does the Italian tune up actually work, in other words Can you remove carbon deposits by driving your car hard? Now, I read a ton of research papers about this subject for different, you know questions that I have about it And so I’ll include links all of that in the video description, but really, you know I want to break this down into more questions, because I think it’s more complicated than just simply asking “does the Italian tune-up actually work?” So, my questions are: What temperatures do carbon deposits actually form at in an engine, and then is there a certain temperature at which you can get the engine hot enough to actually remove those carbon deposits? And then do engines actually get that hot in which you could remove carbon deposits So is there a temperature which you could remove them; and then do the components of your engine, the pistons the valves things like that actually get hot enough that you could remove those deposits? And so that’s what we’re gonna kind of break through So starting at the very beginning, you know, what is the Italian tune-up? And so the idea behind it is, you know, you’re driving your car, you know Whether you drive it a bunch or not all that much, you know the EGR the PCV these are systems that are going to eventually cause, you know carbon deposits to build up especially with direct injection engines and So the idea behind the Italian tune-up is you go out on a highway you rip a few pulls, you know Get it up into the higher RPM; high load scenarios and that gets you know It breaks down those carbon deposits they get so hot that they break apart and then you just kind of push them out the exhaust So that’s the idea behind the Italian tune-up So then my next question was well what temperatures do carbon deposits form in engines? and so, I found a research paper that was looking into this and it looked like it was about 195 degrees Celsius to about 290 degrees Celsius. The peak there where you know, you get the most carbon deposits forming was at about 200 degrees Celsius So that’s really the sweet spot for carbon deposits to form That’s where they’re going to react with the metal surfaces kind of build down that layer where that deposit precursor You know it attaches to that metal surface and then bonds to it, and then you have that carbon deposit forming. That generally seems to happen the peak of that is around 200 degrees Celsius. Now, if you get below about 190 degrees Celsius Then it’s too cold. The precursors don’t actually react with the metal; and then if you get above about 290 degrees It’s too hot for those molecules – they don’t want to bond They either break apart and just go out the exhaust; or they they just it’s too hot for that molecule to actually bond with the metal. And so that sweet spot is where you know, you really don’t want the engine components to be from a deposit standpoint. Ok, so the next question then is can you use heat to remove carbon deposits? and so I found another paper which looked into this and what’s interesting is they found starting at about 325 degrees Celsius you can really start to remove carbon deposits It’s hot enough that it actually will break apart those deposits and so you can start to remove them and they also found that above 325 which as I was stating earlier, above 325 degrees Celsius, you wouldn’t have carbon deposits forming So naturally, my next question was “well, what’s happening at 325 degrees? Why is this causing carbon deposits? to be removed?” and my chemistry is poor. So forgive me on this explanation here – I don’t really understand chemistry all that much at all, but it’s a reaction called “decarboxylation”, and basically what this means is the temperature is so great that the Carbon is kind of ripped out of that molecule so the molecule is split into separate components; it then detaches from the surface and then that you those Deposits then just go out the exhaust So you’ve basically just heated up so hot that you break apart the molecules and then you just burn them out the exhaust Hopefully, you know they don’t get stuck in your exhaust equipment or you know back in EGR and then back into your engine you just Shoot that out the exhaust. So that’s the idea: above 325 degrees Celsius You can get hot enough where you can actually remove carbon deposits and it’s actually at a pretty decent rate Which was interesting to see. Alright, so now the question is can you get the components in your engine hot enough to actually remove deposits? so I was looking at studies that we’re looking at the temperatures of different components in engines and Starting with pistons; those seem to be around, you know the surface of the piston where you would have those carbon deposits forming, the surface of the piston was looking at about you know 280 to about 300 degrees Celsius. Of course peaking in the center where it would be the hottest, and then You know declining as it got towards the cylinder walls. The cylinder walls are of course liquid cooled, the Pistons are oil cooled from beneath So there is cooling that’s happening there to keep those temperatures low, of course combustion temperatures, you know The the flame itself can be as high as 2,000 degrees Celsius but those Pistons are going to be cooled from the oil and then also cooled somewhat from the cylinder walls, which are liquid cooled So looking at that range of about 280 to 300 degrees C That’s the range where you’re not really going to have piston deposits forming all that much, because you’re above the temperature So it does seem like if you’re gonna drive it hard, and bring those temperatures up not all that much You know to 325 degrees C Then you could actually start to get into that range where you could start removing deposits. Now, exhaust valves because they don’t really have much cooling and they’ve got hot exhaust going around them. They get quite hot. So they’re in the 650 degree to about 800 degrees Celsius range And so, you know, you don’t really have to worry too much about carbon deposits getting real thick buildup on the exhaust valves, they generally stay hot enough. We’re not all that much can actually build up on the valve. Now, what about intake valves? Well, the first study I film looked at intake valves on a port injected engine And so this of course means you’re going to have fuel spray over that valve that is going to have somewhat of a cooling effect But regardless it’s an interesting thing to look at as far as the temperatures are concerned And so what they saw is that the temperatures on that valve Both the side that was hit by the fuel and then the other side of the valve Which it doesn’t really get that fuel spray on They saw the temperatures on that range from about 170 to about 190 degrees Celsius and so And so, you know a bit below where you start to have carbon deposits forming But then they found that running the engine at 5,000 RPM at a high load They were able to get the intake valves up to about 272 degrees Celsius And so that’s you know That’s definitely getting into that range and crossing over the peak range of where deposits start to form and of course with the port injected engine You don’t have to worry about it nearly as much, because the fuel spray is washing off those deposit precursors So they don’t attach to the actual valve and they have cleaners to help remove deposits that are attached to the valves but overall it doesn’t look like the intake valves in this port injected engine no matter you know, How hard you’re running it we’re able to get to those high temperatures in order to remove deposits. And so then I found another study in 2016, looking at deposits in an engine; a direct injection 2 liter turbocharged engine and, the unfortunate news that they found out in their study was that they saw a correlation between engine load and deposit formation so they saw that the higher the engine load the more deposits you would actually form and so that doesn’t look good. You know, that means the harder you drive your car Actually, you’re making it worse on it But you know from a temperature standpoint there are ranges where you can start to remove deposits So what are our conclusions here? Does the Italian tune-up actually work and unfortunately, it seems like another one of those questions where the answer is always, you know “it depends” if the engine is capable of getting components hot enough, perhaps so. I think it’s gonna be more than just a single highway pull up to redline, you know the saying like “a redline a day keeps the carbon at bay” or things like that I don’t think it’s just going to be one redline, I don’t think things are necessarily going to get hot enough and that one strong pull in order to start removing deposits I think it’s going to take sustained heat more like track driving where you’re going to have a lot more heat going into the engine Forcing those temperatures to rise quite a bit. And so it seems like pistons you could actually get the temperatures hot enough. As far as intake valves, it really seems like it’s going to depend on the engine and in some cases It could actually make it worse because you’re kind of putting it in that sweet spot where deposits actually do form. Also, you know when you’re running your engine really hard You’re of course going to have a bit more blow by so that means the PCV system is going to be sending more of that Back into your engine so that blow by is going in you’ve got oil droplets and the blow-by that’s gone into your crankcase. And then you’re sending that back into your engine So that gives you an increased tendency to have those elements, you know Those deposit precursors hitting your intake valves and potentially causing more deposits So, you know does the theory behind the Italian tune up makes sense? Yes, you can remove deposits with heat. Will it work for every engine? And is it, you know a simple redline is all you need to do it? I don’t quite think so, based on the research that I’ve found So thank you all so much for watching, if you have any questions or comments or additional insight on the old Italian tuna Please feel free to leave those below You

Cesar Sullivan

100 thoughts on “Is Redline Good For Your Car’s Engine? Italian Tune Up

  1. Hope everyone's having a wonderful day! I made a video a while back about why engines lose power over time (summarized with 10 reasons), which feels relevant to this video, for anyone interested. Here's the link! https://youtu.be/uj8hjAjI7p4

  2. And how high are the temperatures in direct injected engines thought (intake valves)? That's a information which is missing..

  3. i had this old car about 12 years old 1,000 cc engine, when i had to take it on a road trip away from home, on the way to the destination it would harly keep up 75mph, on the way back it would easily get up to 95 mph and i could tell there was a difference in power. flat surface all the way around all i can blame it is for the carbon deposits getting cleaned up a bit.

  4. Why ant you say just yes or no as a reply I your question instead of making us to watch the whole faking video which is really boring

  5. i'll be honest with you, when i push the 2nd right to red than change normally up to 5th (only have 6 including reverse), stop on traffic light, i feel like the car is working waaay better than before…
    it runs smooth, no pre-detonation, less vibration… i dont know, could be my mind, but it works better XD

  6. We have the diesel generators at work connected to a load bank and run at 100% load for a few hours annually. Not only is this a test to see what will fail it burns out any carbon and unburned fuel (Wet stacking) within the exhaust system.. Italian tune up just at normal engine speed and for a long time

  7. I heard it many times that you need to at least drive the car on hway for a while under normal to high load in order to keep the engine cleaner. With diesel it will also make sure dpf is regenerated.
    Ps used to redline my S2k daily 🙂 for fun not to clean anything

  8. I can confirm the Italian tune up does work! I purchased a long time ago a Lincoln Town car, ran like garbage. After about 10 minutes on the highway chugging through a few pulls, it started to run a lot smoother. Another 10 minutes of full throttle runs, it ran incredibly smooth. Felt like a new car again!

  9. Would be interesting to see the correlation if any between inline and v engines, longitudinal to transverse, 4cl/6cl/8cl/10cl/12cl engines, naturally aspirated to turbo charged to supercharged to pro charged!

  10. I use to rev my car while spraying water in the air cleaner to break up the carbon , u could see it coming out on the ground. I use a spray bottle not garden hose .

  11. Here's my experience with a 1987 Mazda 323 (E5 engine).

    This thing, partly due to the incorrectly jetted 32/36 carb, gets lazy quite quickly. Just last week I gave it a bit of a tune up (three pulls up to a mere 60km/h at traffic lights, I was in town). You'd be suprised how the engine came to life just from that. So with older engines, the Italian tune up definitely works. I've also noticed though that driving the car long distance helps a lot, but of course that also means high RPM, high load when overtaking.

    Oh, and just for the record, the engine used to get lazy in a single tank if I didn't use Shell or Caltex petrol. That was before I put this carb on, now I'm still in the process of figuring out the correct jetting. EDIT: I see I already commented about how it used to get lazy in one tank from the wrong petrol. But I didn't expect a mere three quick puls to make such a difference.

  12. Would it be different if you got the engine in the high-rpm range , but under lower load ( like redlining in lower gear , maybe downhill ) ?

  13. As I understand it Mazda used this information to design the intake valves in their GDI engines to run hotter to reduce the chances of carbon build-up on said valves.

  14. I've heard that for a Rotary engine "A redline a day keeps the mechanic away" I wonder if this applies to the spinning Doritos?

  15. I think that the Italian tuneup is good for engines that have REALLY bad deposits, as they will absorb far more heat and not experience as much cooling as the engine itself (the cooling has to go through the piston to reach the deposit, so there is bound to be a temp differential between the surface of the metal and the deposit). One guy I know had an old gas car that barely ran due to deposits. He put in engine oil meant for heavy duty diesels and then ran the car at redline for around 10-20 minutes continuously. After about 5 minutes the exhaust started belching this weird orange-ish color. He ran it till the smoke looked normal for a few minutes.

    Afterward the car ran like new, but he replaced the oil right after the Italian tuneup.

  16. I enjoy watching this guy's videos, but it would be nice if he would restrict them to less than 100,000 words per vid.

  17. Decarboxylation is something different, has to do with acid groups and covalent bonding. You just want to burn off the carbon.

  18. Airplanes with piston engines will do "run-ups" before takeoff to clean the plugs. This is done by running the engine up and leaning out the fuel mixture for 30 seconds or so.

    I believe most fuel-injected production cars are mapped to run rich at full throttle to avoid detonation which means you are probably just adding more deposits.

  19. Great video, thank you. I like your videos because I am a structural engineer and I have always been passionate about cars since I was a kid and I like the detail that you go into with your research. Most people wouldn’t take the time to research various engine temperatures, DI vs port injection and even chemistry! Good job!
    I’ve always believed that cars need to be revved out regularly. If you just putter around in city traffic all the time then it’ll definitely carbon up. Not just on the valves and cylinders but in the exhaust and cats too. A good thrashing on a windy back road helps. I think some people misunderstand and think holding the car at high RPM with only partial throttle is the way to go but I believe you need to have high load and RPM. Windy roads are the best because you accelerate hard, brake, corner and accelerate again. It’s that repeated hard acceleration that really gets things hot and the hot gasses flowing quickly enough through the catalytic converters etc. I was a bit disheartened when you said you found some research that says it’ll actually increase carbon build up in modern DI engines but it won’t stop me from giving my car a thrash with some fuel system cleaner in the tank from time to time. Cars I’ve owned and thrashed: Honda Accord Euro R, Subaru Legacy 3.0R and now Audi S4 B8.5.

  20. Reason I would oppose this is that you'll wear and tear your components quicker, now you got hella heat which can dry out plastics, darken the oil quicker, wear the spark plugs faster, using more tires and brakes. And all your shocks will soften up quicker, probably develop squeaks faster. Where as if you drive normally your car will last without maintenance longer. But gas it sometimes you need to make sure your car can handle it. If your car can't handle full throttle that's not good. Stay off the freeways lol

  21. Lots of witty jokes in these comments. But one unspoken lesson here is to avoid those temps that invite carbon build-up in the first place: Moderately warm engines that get hot enough to invite carbon molecules to adhere, but not hot enough to burn them out. In other words: Short trips. But it's tricky, because water-cooled engines are designed NOT to get hot. A puzzlement.

  22. gasoline is a strong solvent, thats why the new di engines also have port injectors, to remove the carbon on the valves

  23. I have just one question professor. If the piston head is 2,000C right in the center, and steel melts at 1370C. How does this work?

  24. Lol when my dad was 17 he took out his dads '69 E type and raced a gt350 on the highway. My grandfather was an old doctor and never really drove the car fast.. he took the car out that week and came back asking my dad if he worked on the car for him 😂

  25. I think some added confirmation bias with this is the cats. If I'm not mistaken; older, more restrictive catalytic converters on vehicles that were driven at low speeds and/or excessive heavy traffic, would get packed with carbon. This would cause poor flow in the exhaust system, making the car run noticeably worse.
    High revs would create pressure, & possibly the heat necessary to break this stuff loose, & blow it out.

  26. Bro I watch some of your videos and you over explain everything. Seriously just say yes and no or if you need to explain something please short in it. Like you went to details about the history of Italian tone up and all that just so at the end we get the answer.

  27. Yeah, a quick thrash down the bypass just isn't going to cut it. You need to drive it like you stole it for 15-20 minutes minimum I'd say.

  28. just clean your intake valves manually with a set of round nylon brushes attached to a drill gun and spray carbon cleaner beforehand and soak….works like a charm…my motor was noticeably snappier afterward….better gas mileage too.

  29. So basically all those guys with small GDI engines and turbos are more likely be putting carbon deposits on their intake valves instead of removing them, when they rev it and keep the engine at a certain RPM. There goes the "italian tune-up" for pretty much all compact- mid and full size sedans and small SUVs released in the past 4 years. It's actually quite hard to find a non-GDI engine in 2019. Everybody is doing 1.4-2.5 liter +turbo engine. Basically the worst /most unreliable setup you can think of, worse than the 00's , which were mostly multi-port fuel injection.

  30. Life is about trade offs. Here is my take away from your video…

    Redlining may remove some carbon deposits in certain areas, depending upon your engine and configuration. However, seems likely that the higher heat would need to be sustained to do any significant carbon removal. Therein lies the rub. There is a reason why they call it a "red line." Again, depending upon your engine, even pre-redline can cause things like valve float, excess heat build-up and stress critical components of your engine. Not sure I'd want to risk that for any extended period of time and/or repeatedly in the hopes to fight carbon deposits.

    If you're worried about upper engine carbon deposit build-up, you're probably better off just getting a valve and intake cleaning at 80-100K miles (direct injected engines) or just using fuel injector cleaner every so often (non-direct injected engines).

  31. Anyone else find you can't turn the video volume down enough, like he's yelling in your ear no matter how quiet it gets? Great information as usual….how do I make it sound like he isn't yelling at me the whole time?

  32. Engine steam clean with water through the PCV or brake booster line. Not recommended on modern cars. Some vehicles' brake booster hose only goes to 1 cylinder, too.

  33. I actually have some experience with two cars (both turbodiesels) which had initially failed their MOT (a UK test which includes exhaust smoke testing for diesel vehicles). Both had a high mileage of over 100k. Failure was due to high level of exhaust smoke. After a short but aggressive run they both passed the retest (with a significantly lower smoke level). Since then I have done this routinely BEFORE their yearly MOT and smoke levels remained well below the required level. Maybe does not work for all cars but definitely did for mine!

  34. Since the days of the Model T it's been known full throttle acceleration and/or redlining the engine is far more HARMFUL to the drivetrain than beneficial.

  35. the mazda 3 service manual actually has as part of a service/ spark plug cleanup procedure to run the engine in neutral at 4000 rpm for 2 minutes.

  36. Heat plus pressure should create a different result though shouldn't it. Especially when the downwards motion of the piston create a downward pressure similar to suction, thus sucking down the build up building at the top of the cylinder. If I'm wrong let me know I'm hear I the name of education of mechanics

  37. This is excellent don’t get me wrong, but how the fk do you remember all this 😂😂😂 have you a script on view?numbers etc? 😂

  38. Unfortunately a lot of vehicles run around 195 to 200 degrees. At least my older pickup runs there according to code reader readings

  39. How does an old engine that has a leaking head gasket in a specific cylinder self clean the whole cylinder area including rings, intake and exhaust valve while the other cylinders are fouled up with carbon.

  40. Well Italian tune up is useless for most of today's cars but dont forget that EGR significantly affects combustion temperature (it is meant to do so). I havent been in details of the study you reffered but back in the times when cars had no EGR and especially those that had carburetor instead of injection – the combustion tempeature was growing with revs because it was mostly working with excess of air. I mean i think it could possilby work in 70s or 80s… Also (I dont know if this is case of US) in Europe (including italy) there was pretty common to have two-stroke engine in cars. Theese are burning oil (a lot of oil) by design since oil is a part of the fuel. And you could spot them by hude cloud of stinky blue-gray smoke behind them. Those cars are gone theese days but i remember them when I was a child. The thing was that if you havent been using full power (i.e. in the city) it caused oil and carbon sediments in the exhaust pipes and the only way how to get them rid was to "red line" the engine for 5 minutes… Maybe this is the source of the legend behind Italian Tune Up… Also find some Wartburg 353 videos to see some two-stroke fun 🙂

  41. I don't really think it's a question of running it hard once to remove deposits. It's more like a preventative maintenance thing IMO. If you drive your car like a grandma all the time, it's never doing the work it was designed to do. I think it's a good idea to occasionally drive spirited and get that engine revving up there. The engine is designed for it.

    That said, It probably greatly depends on the specific car/engine. A poorly built engine might actually fail sooner if driven "hard" too often while a well-built engine might run great for years and years even after driving it hard every day.

  42. One of the point you miss is the power of the engine in the research you found. I don't think my Fiat Punto with 80HP have the same load temperature of an Audi TT with 250HP.

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