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Does my engine need additional lubrication and what are the Valve saver fluids?

Short answer:

LPG Lubrication or Valve saving is a way of lowering the wearing of valve seats in an engine. This can happen faster in a LPG converted engine because it encounters higher temperatures.

Long answer:

Valve wear
Lead as a lubricant
Hardened valve seats
Valve saver kits

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Not every converted engine needs it though. It depends on the material of valves and engine operating conditions. Bigger LPG systems manufacturers test their systems on different engines and they also get the information about how a certain engine is handling via their distributors and installers. All this data is gathered in a database for their installers to use, even the need for any valve saving kits for lubrication purposes.

Installers will usually suggest a valve saver kit if they believe it would benefit your engine.
Nonetheless it is advised to ask different installers to check in their databases if your car needs it or not.

Valve wear

A four stroke engine schematics showing valves and valve seats

It doesn't matter if we have gasoline or diesel engine, valves are going to be worn. There are standards for how long a valve should last. For example, a typical heavy duty diesel engine of a road truck should withstand 1.600.000 km without changing the valve or valve seat insert.

One of the reasons valves could get more worn out with using LPG is because engine usually encounters higher temperatures (around 900° to 950°C) than gasoline (around 600°C).

We don't want the valves to wear for several reasons:

  • it increases the local shearing forces during sliding
  • it increases temperature in the valve
  • it can lead to leakage and guttering
  • and most importantly - it can lead to a gradually increased travel distance upwards for the valve to seal (Valve Seat Recession) that changes the fuel to air mixture and thus performance (3mm recession led to a 20% decreased power output and a 4mm recession led to over 30%)

Lead as a lubricant

From around 1920 tetraethyl lead was mixed with gasoline to improve its performance and lower the fuel consumption (leaded fuel). It also helped as a buffer that prevented too much friction between valves and valve seats thus increased usage life for the components. Unfortunately lead is toxic and when it went through the exhaust system it polluted the environment. It is also associated with neurotoxic effects that could lower IQ.

When it was banned, automotive industry needed a solution to prevent valve wear so they started producing hardened valve seats.

Useless fact of the day: You've probably seen the sign »Unleaded fuel only«. Even though leaded fuel as a road vehicle fuel is banned in most countries you can still find it in handful of them. One of the main reasons why you shouldn't tank leaded fuel in your car is because it would damage your catalytic converter that converts toxic gases to less toxic ones in the exhaust system.

Hardened valve seats

A four stroke engine schematics with moving parts including valves and valve seats

The technology and materials for valves and valve seats are not the same in all engines. Standards can vary, but if your engine's valves and valve seats are higher quality the wear should be less of a concern. It is best to ask installers to check for the info for the same engine what are the best practices.

Valve saver kits

There are products to prevent valve wear mostly called Valve saver kits. These kits dose a fluid into the engine intake manifold which coats the valves and valve seats in a protecting wrapper, lubricates and cleans them. The kits contain a tank for the lubricant which is connected with a tube to the engine and it slowly drips drops of lubricant into the intake manifold.
Usually you would need about 1 mL of fluid per 1 L of fuel.

Companies

Companies that develop valve saver kits in alphabetical order:

ERC

ERC logo

http://www.erc-online.de

German based company

Tests and certificates:

  • Tested by DEKRA
  • Tested by TÜV
  • Tested with Kia Cee’d with an LPG system for 113.506 km. The measurements concluded no valve wear at all. Click here for the report (.pdf).

Products:

  • LPG GasLube Premium
  • LPG GasLube Special

Flashlube

Flashlube logo

http://flashlube.com

Australian based company

Tests and certificates:

  • Tested by Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes - University of Applied Sciences. Tested with a Peugeot 107 with an LPG liquid phase injection system for 10.000 km. The additive stopped further wear of the valves and valve seats.
  • Test done by AG Autogas Systems in the Netherlands and France in the year 2000. Tested with a Honda CR-V with an LPG system for 10.179 km without Flashlube and 20.548 km with it. And tested with a Honda Accord 2.01-16V for 14.162 km without it and 28.459 km with it. In both cases the cars were used in traffic through the tests and the valve wear slowed down considerably. Click here for the report (.pdf).

Products:

  • Valve Saver Fluid
  • Valve Saver Kit
  • Valve Saver Kit Series 2
  • Electronic Valve Saver Kit

Flashlube invented their LPG additive back in 1979 and they were the first on the market.

JLM Lubricants

JLM Lubricants logo

http://www.jlmlubricants.com

Netherlands based company

Tests and certificates:

  • Tested by TÜV
  • Tested by Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes - University of Applied Sciences. Tested with a Peugeot 107 with an LPG liquid phase injection system for 12.500 km without Valve Saver Fluid and another 10.246 km with it. The additive stopped further wear of the valves and valve seats. Click here for the report (.pdf).

Products:

  • Valve Saver Fluid
  • Valve Saver Kit

Other useful links on myLPG.eu

Also check the LPG calculator or find your local LPG installer.