To save money, can you pour paint thinner in your engine?

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Old 02-23-09, 04:45 PM
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To save money, can you pour paint thinner in your engine?

This is no joke! On my favorite Saturday morning car repair call-in show, Sam said he does not care for SF brand additive that you can add to either the gas tank or crankcase. He said it basically is the same as paint thinner.

But he gave no real reason as to why he does not like it. I mumbled at the radio, "What if paint thinner WORKS?" Just because it is like paint thinner in and of itself does not mean that that is a bad thing. UNLESS, someone pointed out exactly why it is a bad thing!

The main active ingredient in SF brand additive is petroleum distillates. Hmmm. Well, paint thinner cleans grease and gunk off stuff pretty well. I think THAT is a petroleum distillate. Soooo............

Do you know what I paid for SF yesterday at the big box store ON SALE? About $6.50 a measely little can! I bought 2 cans. One went in the gas tank Saturday, and one went in the crankase yesterday, in hopes of disolving (likely)sludged up return oil galleries in 270,000 mile car engine that smokes when cold started.

Paint thinner'd be WAY cheaper as long as no harm done, and there was not some additional explosion hazard or something.

Any ideas on this?
 
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Old 02-23-09, 04:56 PM
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Years ago when we were working on a job that was about an hour from the shop, we realized the company truck didn't have enough gas to make it back to the shop. We had 2 choices, pool our money and buy gas or beer. We bought beer and poured a gallon or two of paint thinner in the tank. Didn't run great but we made it back to the shop

I have put a 1/2 quart or so of paint thinner in the crankcase a few minutes prior to changing the oil but I wouldn't drive with it in the oil! or let it idle for long.
 
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Old 02-23-09, 05:23 PM
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So cars can actually RUN on paint thinner? LOL. Glad you made it home.

Regarding the oil treatment aspect: What if then you put say lots of motor honey oil thickener in the oil and then added the paint thinner so that when the paint thinner diluted the thick oil, the oil would still be about the consistency of say 5W-30, but yet still have all them distillates working for you? How's THAT thinking?
 
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Old 02-23-09, 05:31 PM
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Paint thinner is a benzene, so it has 'fuel' properties in it. How long and how much you can use in a automobile before something goes awry.....who knows.
 
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Old 02-24-09, 04:44 AM
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how can you save money with paint thinner it's about 6 bucks a gallon aroiund here.
 
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Old 02-24-09, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by risoworker View Post
how can you save money with paint thinner it's about 6 bucks a gallon aroiund here.
Because the SF is only about 1/8th a gallon or so, and still costs about $6.50. Paint thinner would be a HUGE savings!
 
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Old 02-24-09, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by HotinOKC View Post
Paint thinner is a benzene, so it has 'fuel' properties in it. How long and how much you can use in a automobile before something goes awry.....who knows.
I think I will continue to add it proportionately and moderately, when I keep having to add oil. And also gauge it by how it feels rubbing my fingers together (real scientific, eh?). My overall objective is to get it to stop billowing so much at moderately cold outside temp start ups, where it does it the worst.

Yesterday mormning, after I added the stuff, it only steamed. And this morning it did smoke blue-white some, mixed in with the steam, but only lasted about 5 minutes rather than 20 minutes. Also it did not fog up the entire acreages of field.

My objective is to reduce start-up oil consumption. And when that happens I can back off adding SF-----or, paint thinner.

I think I am going to pour out some paint thinner, and also some SF, and light each with a match. I expect both to burn probably equally well. If so, I can't think of any more additional risk by adding paint thinner to crankcase instead, can you?

Also, I am going to scrape that greasy sludge you find caked under car engines and soak it in paint thinner to see what happens.

I love experimenting.

BTW - My eyes are burning right now. This morning, I inhaled those obnoxious smoke funes that contained spent gas, burnt oil, burnt motor honey and burnt SF, and I can sort of feel it in my lungs still, and my eyes burn.


EDIT: BTW2: I researched/found web site where a mechanic? responded to someone with similar problem with 93 Dodge Spirit, and mechanic-dude said likely cause, like MY theory; that oil is likely flooding the valve cover and cannot get thru clogged return oil galleries until oil gets hotter/thiiner, and leaks in a bad valve seal, that it otherwise maybe would not, so much, if the gallery was not restricted.

I'll bet this theory holds true with many people with various old engines that smoke at first. This is a very enlightening discovery, and something for everyone to remember.
 

Last edited by ecman51; 02-24-09 at 08:49 AM. Reason: added last 2 paragraphs
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Old 02-25-09, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
Because the SF is only about 1/8th a gallon or so, and still costs about $6.50. Paint thinner would be a HUGE savings!
i don;t understand can you explain to me?
 
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Old 02-25-09, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by risoworker View Post
i don;t understand can you explain to me?

the SF is about 8 times as expensive as paint thinner.

SF 1/8 gal. $6.50

paint thinner 1 gal. $6.00
 
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Old 02-26-09, 09:45 AM
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I have heard of people using kerosene to flush out an engine, also heard that it wasn't recomended due to the fact some kero might still be in the engine after flushing it out.

On to the math question:

1/8 gallon (1 pint) of paint thinner $0.75

1/8 gallon SF (whatever that is) $6.50
 
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Old 03-12-09, 07:45 AM
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Talking

It seems to me as if you are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!!

Why are you doing all this? Is this to stop an oil using problem, smoking problem or what. If you are burning oil then it is probably either valve guide seals, worn engine rings, or, as someone said, the drain holes in the heads are stopped up an allowing oil to build up in the valve cover and drain by the intake valves on start up.

I would take the valve covers off(if build up is suspected) and check the drain back holes for obstructions and clean if necessary. I would then do a compression check to see about the condition of my rings/cylinders. How many miles are on this vehicle???

If you are getting white and blue smoke it means oil and water/brake fluid most likely. It probably has power brakes, right? Check the vacuum line from the booster to the engine and see if there is any liquid in it!

Good luck with the project and the lungs (if you are breathing that stuff)!!
 
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Old 03-13-09, 02:22 PM
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Exactly what mikeTN said....It's an interesting principle, but I would never "run" it with the stuff in the oil. use it to flush out the motor before an oil change? maybe but oonly in a car on it's last breath. But never drive. In the fuel it's possible it might help clean out carb jets or fuel injectors?
 
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Old 03-15-09, 12:12 PM
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cost vs. results

When you pay for sludge remover to flush out a trusty old engine with 270,000 miles you know how much to use and how long you can run the engine to get the desired results.

If you use paint thinner you have to guess how much to use and wonder how ineffective you are rendering the primary function of the oil itself. If you had your engine in pieces, you could soak the heads in paint thinner all you like.

You have a valid curiosity but I wouldn't make your poor car the guinea pig to prove it ! I dunno, sounds like you've reduced the smoke so at least you have diagnosed the problem.
 
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Old 03-22-09, 11:14 PM
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Red face Oh no!

I did some thing like this about 10 years ago poured Marvel Oil in the engine on 2 1989 broncos, well it worked too good both engines ended with nocking rods and no oil preassure due to the oil pick tube screen pluging up on both engines
 
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Old 03-23-09, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by nightowlpunk View Post
1/8 gallon SF (whatever that is) $6.50
Sea Foam..................................
 
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Old 03-23-09, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by mikeTN View Post
It seems to me as if you are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear!!
Well, of course I am! Aren't we all, when we try to keep our old stuff going?

Why are you doing all this? Is this to stop an oil using problem, smoking problem or what.
Presumption made that 270,000+ miles, with engine already having been plugged with coolant lime deposits(radiator/heater core and ?), that engine sludge may be a realistic possibility too, based on theory that oil backing up in valve cover could more easily then leak past past worn guides/seals, if oil is FLOODED around them.

If you are burning oil then it is probably either valve guide seals, worn engine rings, or, as someone said, the drain holes in the heads are stopped up an allowing oil to build up in the valve cover and drain by the intake valves on start up.
I wound up looking. Water/sludge on inside curtain sheetmetal under the valve cover. But drain holes did not look stopped up one bit. And no water mixed in with oil on the top of the head. Just on the cover.

I would take the valve covers off(if build up is suspected) and check the drain back holes for obstructions and clean if necessary.
I did, as mentioned.

I would then do a compression check to see about the condition of my rings/cylinders.
I did, but I'm not sure what the actual cause is from 2 low cylinders(NOT adjacent cylinders, BTW!). I poured in lots of oil and retested and compression shot up to above factory specs by 30 psi! I have not monkeyed around with figuring this out since my last post, since I got an identical car now(even same color!) that I'm now driving. But I aim to go back down to that garage and do more testing, as I feel I have not resolved the issue -the actual cause. I can't stand not figuring things out and it burdons my mind.

If you are getting white and blue smoke it means oil and water/brake fluid most likely.
Nope. Have not lost 1 drop of brake fluid. But I go through through a quart of oil in about 200 miles. Yes, some of the billowing was from coolant. Oddly, up unitl the very end it could billow and fill acres of land to the point I thought the police would come. Yet, driving down the highway, or past people I knew on city streets, would tell me no smoke was coming out the tailpipe!! It ONLY started doing that the day she 'really let go' (MONTHS after I have had the billowing problem in the morning, or after 3 hours of cold sitting!), and when I got home and rotated the engine by hand, for the first time, water gurgled in the reservoir, just by rotating the engine by hand, and green coolant was ontop piston #1.

But I still want to resolve if only the head is bad, or the gasket, or if the rings are bad - and I mean not just a little normal wear and tear, but REALLY bad(primary cause of compression loss?), as to which is the culprit of the billowing. If it were just in the head, I'd be tempted to rebuild the top half of the engine. Maybe. Then again, other issues with the vehicle may make me come to my senses and give up and get scrap money for the car, and strip off what I can for my (new)'90.
 
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Old 03-23-09, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mickblock View Post
When you pay for sludge remover to flush out a trusty old engine with 270,000 miles you know how much to use and how long you can run the engine to get the desired results.

If you use paint thinner you have to guess how much to use and wonder how ineffective you are rendering the primary function of the oil itself. If you had your engine in pieces, you could soak the heads in paint thinner all you like.

You have a valid curiosity but I wouldn't make your poor car the guinea pig to prove it ! I dunno, sounds like you've reduced the smoke so at least you have diagnosed the problem.
I'd figure on pouring in the same amount -whatever the Sea Foam can size is, I'd do equal volume of paint thinner.

I haven't reduced the smoke. Pretty bad when you have to fear the police maybe a knockin at your door, asking you to stop gassing out the entire town! I'm not joking either. It is REALLY something. I think I burn 1/2 quart just during that cold idling process, along with engine coolant combined.
 
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Old 03-23-09, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Rat View Post
I did some thing like this about 10 years ago poured Marvel Oil in the engine on 2 1989 broncos, well it worked too good both engines ended with nocking rods and no oil preassure due to the oil pick tube screen pluging up on both engines
They talk about this very negative aspect, sometimes, when the subject comes up, On "Sam's Garage" radio program I listen to every Saturday morning.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 01:47 PM
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Talking 'tired engine'

I think maybe you are straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel! If you have two cyl. low on comp. and water on one, a gurgling in the radiator when turning the engine by hand, I think it is time to throw in the towel and rebuild that puppy if you want to retain it. If it throws some of the parts out while running, re-build is not going to be possible.

Yes I am a believer in that if it is not broke, don't fix it!! However, things DO wear out. As I turn 65 I am constantly reminded of this and can't rebuild some things! LOL! Good luck with the problem!!
 
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Old 03-25-09, 02:56 PM
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Sorry to hear you are so old.

I feel a little run down lately from fighting this brutal winter we had this year (the freezing and tons of snow shoveling) and driving that heaterless car in below 0 weather, being sick, working hard everyday, etc. I still have a little time on how to make up my mind regarding that car. I wish I was on a farm. I'd just park it in the weeds and strip parts off it on an as-needed basis.

Still debating how much testing and all that I will do, now that I have the other almost identical car. The stereo system in the '91 was superb - and in the new '90 something is haywire and it crackles and doesn't work worth a darn. THAT is a shame that the good stereo/speakers is in the wrong car now.

I am actually even curious as to why my (new)'90 puts out 143 degree heat out the register, while the '91 put out 50 degrees over outside temp. (i.e., 0 degrees out, 50 degree heat). And that was without the blower running. The faster I ran the blower, the less heat it would emit! Driving the car to work with it 0 degrees out and getting up to highway speed and having meager 50 degree heated air waft out the register at me (with the blower off), actually felt freezing with that air first hitting the cold air in the car. It actually felt better to set the thing on defrost so I'd feel none of that breeze. I never really spent a lot of time analyzing the heater core, as I was always busy working on other stuff, and the time it got cold out, for the season, I was too cold to stand outside to try to work on the car. Kind of ironic.
 
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Old 04-01-09, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
Sorry to hear you are so old.

I feel a little run down lately from fighting this brutal winter we had this year (the freezing and tons of snow shoveling) and driving that heaterless car in below 0 weather, being sick, working hard everyday, etc. I still have a little time on how to make up my mind regarding that car. I wish I was on a farm. I'd just park it in the weeds and strip parts off it on an as-needed basis.

Still debating how much testing and all that I will do, now that I have the other almost identical car. The stereo system in the '91 was superb - and in the new '90 something is haywire and it crackles and doesn't work worth a darn. THAT is a shame that the good stereo/speakers is in the wrong car now.

I am actually even curious as to why my (new)'90 puts out 143 degree heat out the register, while the '91 put out 50 degrees over outside temp. (i.e., 0 degrees out, 50 degree heat). And that was without the blower running. The faster I ran the blower, the less heat it would emit! Driving the car to work with it 0 degrees out and getting up to highway speed and having meager 50 degree heated air waft out the register at me (with the blower off), actually felt freezing with that air first hitting the cold air in the car. It actually felt better to set the thing on defrost so I'd feel none of that breeze. I never really spent a lot of time analyzing the heater core, as I was always busy working on other stuff, and the time it got cold out, for the season, I was too cold to stand outside to try to work on the car. Kind of ironic.
If it gets colder the faster you run, maybe the thermostat is stuck open not allowing time for the water to heat up!!
 
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Old 04-01-09, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by mikeTN View Post
If it gets colder the faster you run, maybe the thermostat is stuck open not allowing time for the water to heat up!!
I've put in different stats. But thanks anyway. Sometimes the obvious gets overlooked. Also, the temp of the upper hose would fluctuate as it should with a stat.
 
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Old 04-02-09, 09:29 PM
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Increased compression after squirting oil in the cylinder is an indication that your piston rings are worn. Face it, in an engine with this many miles, you have got your money's worth and it is time for a rebuild.
 
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