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Old 12-04-2010, 08:30 AM   #1
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Italian tune-up

People say its bad to "baby" an engine too much because it creates excessive carbon buildup. Ive also heard its bad to run hard all the time due to excessive heat and friction, accelerated wear, etc...

My question is, what is the best compromise between the two extremes? What is a healthy amount of gettin on the throttle, if you want the engine to last? Should racing the engine be an every day thing? Every week? Month? Ive heard stories of motors that were beat on for years but still ran like new.

Okay, so the Italian tune-up is done by running the car at high loads and rpm for long periods of time to clear out carbon, and reseal the piston rings. Basically, its racing the engine and giving it all shes got to "clear things out" I guess.

I use my focus as a slow economy car that is for A to B purposes that must be reliable (what its meant for), and I rarely get on it because Im trying to make it last as long as possible. Im actually afraid Im babying it too much and wanted to ask about it on these forums.

Good habits of mine: Im especially easy on it during warm up (I dont sit and idle or get on it hard). I accelerate very slowly until its at operating temp. The car is 100% bone stock, Ive always used genuine motorcraft factory parts and fluid, and change according to owners manual.. I also usually accelerate slower than most people going from stop light to stop light, try to be smooth, etc...

I open it up probably once a week in second gear, doing about 2 or 3 runs to redline and compression braking to seal the rings. Is this sufficient for a healthy italian tune up?


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Old 12-04-2010, 09:32 AM   #2
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Your never going to find someone that will say definitively "you should redline X times per week."

Personally, I don't think it's necessarily bad to baby your engine. I don't really take a whole lot of stock in the babying = carbon buildup hypothesis. As long as everything gets up to operating temp in the course of your drive I wouldn't worry about it. You've gotta think about the people that aren't car enthusiasts like, say, old women. Old women aren't going to redline at all for months, maybe years, at a time. I would say, purely on opinion, that once a week is more than enough.

Probably an even better solution would be to get on the highway for awhile and just let her run...
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:41 AM   #3
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I don't really take a whole lot of stock in the babying = carbon buildup hypothesis. As long as everything gets up to operating temp in the course of your drive I wouldn't worry about it. You've gotta think about the people that aren't car enthusiasts like, say, old women. Old women aren't going to redline at all for months, maybe years, at a time.
Let's use that example, my grandma had a 1984 Mazda B2000 pickup, when she died in 2003 it had something like 30,000 miles on it. She babied it, she drove it like... well, like a grandma. After she passed away we took it into our family and I used it. It had lots of engine knock using the recommended 87 octane gas, if I stepped up to 89 octane, the pinging went away. Why? Carbon deposits in the combustion chamber. It raises the compression ratio. Over the 7 years that we've had it (and now we've given it to my cousin, who will surely beat on this vehicle) the knocking has gotten less severe. Maybe because I tended to flog the piss out of it and inadvertently gave it an Italian tune-up? I dunno.

For what it's worth I don't think occasionally taking it to redline constitutes an "Italian tune-up" really. I've read in the past that you need to have the engine under heavy load for a sustained amount of time. Be aware you run the risk of doing serious damage to your engine doing something like this.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:57 AM   #4
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Let's use that example, my grandma had a 1984 Mazda B2000 pickup, when she died in 2003 it had something like 30,000 miles on it. She babied it, she drove it like... well, like a grandma. After she passed away we took it into our family and I used it. It had lots of engine knock using the recommended 87 octane gas, if I stepped up to 89 octane, the pinging went away. Why? Carbon deposits in the combustion chamber. It raises the compression ratio. Over the 7 years that we've had it (and now we've given it to my cousin, who will surely beat on this vehicle) the knocking has gotten less severe. Maybe because I tended to flog the piss out of it and inadvertently gave it an Italian tune-up? I dunno.

For what it's worth I don't think occasionally taking it to redline constitutes an "Italian tune-up" really. I've read in the past that you need to have the engine under heavy load for a sustained amount of time. Be aware you run the risk of doing serious damage to your engine doing something like this.
Or you can take my grandma's Buick. Runs like the day she bought it. Not sure what the vintage is though... Never given her a lick of trouble.

I think there are a lot of variables at work and we can't narrow it down to just carbon buildup from not "getting on it" often.

For the record, I've never heard the term "Italian tune-up" before today. You learn something new everyday!
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:27 AM   #5
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I first heard about it reading a book about how to restore and care for Alfa Romeo cars. The author recommended it (given the engine is in sound condition) because Italian cars were tuned, geared, and built to be driven at high speeds, and Americans tended not to drive them that way, resulting in a lot of carbon build-up.
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:56 AM   #6
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First, drive it how you want. It does not really matter that much. the grandma case is more because it sat a lot causing misfires/ and bad gas.
second, If there are enough carbon deposits in the cylinder to cause a problem, you could redline that thing all day and not fix anything. The so called "Italian tune up" is nothing but a load of shit. if you want to clean your engine get some top end cleaner. and if you want to keep it clean, keep good gas in it, do the maintenance when its due, and drive it a couple times a week.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azdamay View Post
I first heard about it reading a book about how to restore and care for Alfa Romeo cars. The author recommended it (given the engine is in sound condition) because Italian cars were tuned, geared, and built to be driven at high speeds, and Americans tended not to drive them that way, resulting in a lot of carbon build-up.
I also believe Italy has lots of hill and mountains and stuff, which would constitute "driving under a heavy load". But I've never been to Italy, I can't confirm.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:12 PM   #8
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Never heard of this Italian Tune Up, but it doesn't sound like it would work.

I think I'll stick to Seafoam, thanks.

Oh, and I romp on My ST, not like roasting tires and junk, but I have been known to be a bit heavy on the throttle and slow to shift, lol.
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Old 12-04-2010, 03:31 PM   #9
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^^^^^ I agree with jmiller_1974. Seafoam will clean out that carbon. And a good romp getting on the highway never hurt.
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Old 12-04-2010, 03:36 PM   #10
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I've never heard "Italian tune-up" before but I think it was commonly believed in the past that a car needed to be driven hard occasionally for it to run best. I think with engineering and tolerances being so much more precise in modern cars, and especially the advent of EFI, it's probably not really true anymore.
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