Everything You Need to Know About Engine Performance
Engine performance — it’s a topic that comes up in nearly every discussion about new or used vehicles. Whether you’ve got a brand-new model or are trying to get your old reliable car to its next mega-milestone, you want to get the best performance out of your engine for a long as you can. You don’t need to be a trained mechanic to understand how you can achieve optimal performance. All you need is a crash course in Engine Performance 101.
We know a thing or two about this. We talk to customers every day from all walks of life – daily drivers, weekend racers, drag racers, off-roaders, SCAA racers. Rislone’s been in the performance game for a long time.
In fact, Rislone’s been the trusted source of proven engine treatment and performance improvement products for over a century. For those who aren’t too familiar with what’s under their hood, we want to take a moment to talk in detail about your engine and why engine performance matters. Our team believes that what you need to know about engine performance includes learning about the history of the engine, how car engines work, why they lose performance over time and how to keep it at peak performance no matter how far you go.
Got a cup of coffee? Let’s do this. (It’ll be fun, we promise.)
History of the Internal Combustion Engine
There are many types of engines, but nearly every vehicle you encounter is running on an internal combustion engine. Internal combustion engines are heat engines that function via fuel ignition. Vehicles typically use a four-stoke piston engine, also known as an intermittent combustion engine. The first internal combustion engine design was created in 1680 by a Dutch physicist, but the first internal combustion engine wasn’t invented until 1807. Similarly, the first four-stroke engine was patented in 1862 but not created until 1876. Didn’t know engines went that far back, did you?
In 1876, Nicolaus August Otto’s invention, which was deemed the “Otto Cycle Engine,” was the first practical and efficient four-stroke internal combustion engine. Although other inventors would build and improve upon this creation, Otto’s design was used as the template engine for all vehicles using a liquid fuel source. However, what is considered the first prototype of the modern gas engine was created nearly a decade later by Gottlieb Daimler, an employee of Otto’s company. Daimler also improved upon it by designing V-slant cylinders to replace vertical cylinders.
Anatomy of an Engine
The internal combustion engine is a remarkable invention. Pop open the hood of nearly any vehicle, and you’ll find a four-stroke intermittent combustion engine with four, six or eight V-slanted cylinders. There are many components to your engine, and you’ll be able to view most of them readily. Knowing what each part is, what it does and how it’s supposed to look will help you identify problems and maintain your engine performance.
- Timing system: The timing chain, or timing belt, coordinates the movements of the crankshaft and camshaft. This timing system keeps those components from falling out of sync and immediately stopping the engine.
- Camshaft: The camshaft is key for optimal engine performance. It works with the crankshaft to ensure that the intake and exhaust (also sometimes called outtake) valves are opening and closing at the correct times.
- Spark plug: Spark plugs are located above the cylinders in an engine. They create sparks which then ignite fuel and air to cause an explosion.
- Cylinder head: Naturally, you can spot the cylinder head by looking at the top of the cylinders. This metal covering is small and enables combustion by creating room at the top of the chamber. Other components are mounted onto the cylinder head, including fuel injectors, spark plugs and valves.
- Crankshaft: The crankshaft creates the rotational movement that causes a car to move forward. It is housed in a crankcase and stretches the length of the engine. As the pistons move, the crankshaft converts that motion by spinning and helping the camshaft power the vehicle.
- Combustion chamber: The combustion chamber of an engine houses the explosions that occur when air, fuel, electricity and pressure are mixed.
- Engine block: Also referred to as a cylinder block, the engine block is the heart of the engine. It has multiple holes available to house between two and eight cylinders, depending on the vehicle.
- Connecting rod: The connecting rod connects the crankshaft and the pistons.
- Piston: The pistons are located in the cylinders of the engine. They move up and down to move the crankshaft as fuel combusts.
- Valve: Every car has at least one intake valve and one outtake valve, though some vehicles will have an extra intake valve or two pairs of each valve. Intake valves pull the air and fuel into the combustion chamber. After the combustion occurs, the outtake valves remove the resulting exhaust. The more valves a car has, the more air, fuel and exhaust can be cycled through to improve performance.
- Valve train: The valve train is made of up rocker arms, lifters, pushrods and the intake and outtake valves. This component controls both valve operations.
- Fuel injectors: Without fuel, the pistons cannot create combustion within the cylinders. The fuel injection system uses injectors to deliver fuel to the cylinders. There are continuous and timed fuel injection systems, each of which has a specific type of injector. Injectors in continuous systems spray fuel when the engine is running. Timed systems use injectors that only deliver fuel when the cylinder triggers it.
5 Things You Need to Know About Engine Performance
Your engine is the heart of your vehicle, and you should evaluate its performance regularly. Having an understanding of your engine’s components and how they work together is useful for maintaining your engine correctly. Along with this information, we believe that all car owners should know how long their engine may last, which symptoms require professional inspections, what causes these symptoms, why engine performance matters and how it can be improved.
1: How Long Engines Should Last
Most engines in today’s vehicles are built to last well over 100,000 miles. With proper maintenance, it’s not uncommon to see an engine push the 200,000-mile mark. However, poorly maintained engines can breakdown well before the end of the typical lifecycle. Routine maintenance should get you nearly a decade of use out of your engine, while exceptional attention to detail and preventative maintenance can keep your car on the road even longer.
2: When to Seek Help for an Engine Problem
Of course, any time your check engine light comes on, you should acknowledge it. However, most car owners understand that not every issue requires a mechanic. When the light comes on, it’s wise to take it to an auto parts store to have them run a diagnostic check. Many oil change centers will also check a handful of elements under your hood and will alert you to any issues they find. When should you head straight to a mechanic for potential engine performance problems?
- When your check engine light is flashing
- When you hear strange noises coming from your engine, especially as you accelerate
- When the engine feels like it’s shaking
- When you notice fluid leaks under your car
- Whenever there is smoking come from under your hood
- When there is excessive or blue exhaust coming from your exhaust pipe
3: What Causes an Engine to Lose Power
Usually, the symptoms of engine trouble are caused by normal wear and tear that accumulates as you drive. Many of these problems are mechanical, resulting from clogged, dirty or damaged components. Other problems are simply the result of malfunctioning components like sensors. Anything that impacts the air, fuel, compression or spark within the engine can cause it to lose power. Some issues may be as simple as a dirty air filter, while others may be more complex issues that affect the fuel injectors or spark plugs.
4: Why Engine Performance Matters
Maybe you’re an easy rider who doesn’t mind if your car loses some of its performance over time. Though it is admirable that you still accept and cherish your car even when performance starts to suffer, you should realize that a loss of power and performance may be a sign of trouble under the hood. Depending on your symptoms, your engine could be few miles away from its last ride. Paying attention to your engine performance is crucial because it will help you identify which areas require attention.
5: How to Improve Your Engine Performance
Although normal wear and tear will occur over time, you can still help your engine maintain its high performance with routine maintenance. By performing simple tasks like applying additives to your oil or fuel, you can maintain or increase your engine performance. These additives can not only treat existing problems with compression and oil thickness, but they can also prevent future issues from occurring, such as contaminant buildup and damage from spark knocking.
Improving Your Engine Performance
Each engine is unique, but all car owners want one thing from their engine — reliable power and performance. Proper engine maintenance requires more than regular oil changes and tune-ups. The friction that occurs while you drive will damage your engine’s internal parts. Low-quality fuel can also leave contaminants in your engine that contribute more damage. Keep your engine performance as high as possible with Rislone engine treatment products.
- 3X Concentrated Engine Oil Supplement With Zinc Treatment: Increase the engine life of older/classic hot-rod engines with the Rislone 3X Concentrated Engine Oil Supplement With Zinc Treatment. Especially useful if you have a flat-tappet camshaft engine, this treatment will enable newer oils to work and gives you the zinc protection your car needs (and that modern oils do not provide). Car owners around the globe have used this to protect their engines since 1921. The ZDDP treatment attached to the metal surfaces inside your engine to become a sacrificial wear material, limiting corrosion and other damages. Use this to protect engines older than 2004 and diesel engines older than 2006. If you own an older classic car or hod rod, this is our #1 option.
- Compression Repair With Ring Seal: We’ve seen it a hundred times: low compression causes poor engine performance. Give your engine its power and performance back with our Compression Repair With Ring Seal high mileage treatment. Use it every time you change your oil or once every 6,000 miles, and you’ll instantly increase your engine’s compression. This product seals and repairs micro-damage in your engine’s cylinder walls and properly re-seals rings around the pistons.
- Engine Treatment: As you run gasoline through your engine, the fuel leaves behind deposits of gum, sludge and varnish on the inner parts. Clean these deposits and prevent them from building up with the maximum performance Engine Treatment conditioner and cleaner from Rislone. Our formula will keep your engine clean, reduce excess wear and silence noisy components. Use it on your four-stroke engine when you change your oil and it’ll begin working instantly. This is literally the product that made Rislone famous in auto enthusiast circles.
- High-Mileage Formula Engine Treatment: Does your older vehicle need a performance enhancement? Our High-Mileage Formula Engine Treatment conditioner and cleaner formula was built for car owners that want to get the most out of every mile. This formula is guaranteed to keep your internal engine parts clean, and you can add it to your engine oil at any time.
- High-Performance Oil Treatment: When maintaining your car’s engine, don’t forget that you need to give some attention to your oil as well. The Rislone High-Performance Oil Treatment formula was specifically designed for older engines that are high on miles. This treatment increases oil pressure and protects your engine against damage from normal wear and tear. It can be used throughout the year regardless of temperature and can be used at any time.
- Nano Prime Engine Oil Performance Booster: This is our very best. If you’re looking for the ultimate synthetic engine treatment, look no further than our Nano Prime Engine and Oil Performance Booster. We spent years finely crafting this solution until it was formulated to the highest standards. Featuring MoS2 with WS2 nanotechnology, this treatment increases horsepower and torque, reduces wear on your engine, repairs metal surfaces and cleans your system. Feel free to use this during your next oil change or apply it now for unbelievable results. This is our #1 performance formula.
- Ring Seal Smoke Repair: Have you ever noticed blue smoke coming out of your exhaust pipe? This phenomenon is caused by gaps within the engine that have worn down over time. This allows oil to drip down onto the engine block and burn. Our Ring Seal Smoke Repair solution reduces oil burning and prevents blue exhaust smoke by sealing the worn pistons and rings in your engine. Add this to your engine oil at any time, and you’ll immediately notice a difference.
Now let’s talk about gas and fuel quality, which is something many take for granted.
From the pump to the pistons, gasoline impacts your entire fuel system and engine as it moves through your vehicle. Many car owners don’t realize just how important the health of their fuel injectors is, which is why it’s easy for these components to become damaged. Even the slightest bits of debris can significantly impact your car’s fuel economy and drivability. We recommend that every vehicle owner protect their fuel injectors and fuel system by keeping it clean. Our award-winning gasoline and diesel fuel treatment products will improve performance.
- Complete Gasoline Fuel System Treatment: Although you can control how well you maintain your vehicle, you can’t always control the quality of the gasoline you put into it. Low-quality gasoline will dirty up your fuel system over time by leaving behind contaminants that can damage your engine. Rislone Complete Gasoline Fuel System Treatment solution is an octane booster, gas treatment, combustion chamber cleaner and a fuel system cleaner, all in a single bottle. Usee this treatment to remove all contaminants from your system and prevent fuel from going bad.
- Diesel Fuel System Treatment: Similar to our gasoline fuel system formula, our Complete Fuel System Diesel Treatment solution is the best diesel additive money can buy. It cleans and lubricates your fuel system, removes harmful contaminants, prevents corrosion and reduces friction. We suggest using this product every 5,000 miles you drive or during each of your oil changes.
- Fuel Injector Cleaner: As carbon builds up in your engine system, it can result in a loss of power. We’ve designed a Fuel Injector Cleaner with an upper cylinder lubricant that lubricates the injectors, carburetors, lines, tank and fuel pump in your fuel system to reduce wear from friction. Our fuel injector cleaner maximizes power and mileage on both gasoline and diesel engines. Simply use either one small bottle or six ounces from our 32oz bottle during every fill-up.
- Super Concentrated Octane Booster: Don’t let the name fool you, our Super Concentrated Octane Booster is legal for street and racing use. This antiknock formula prevents spark knock, which occurs when air and fuel mixtures in your engine’s cylinder explode. This causes an increase in pressure that can damage your engine. Use an entire bottle of Super Concentrated Octane Booster in your fuel tank to stop engine knocks, restore your horsepower and receive a real MMT power boost.
You’ve got an eye on your engine and are attentive to your fuel system — but are you regularly caring for your transmission as well? Some car owners don’t realize that the transmission has a substantial impact on your car’s performance. In fact, the check engine light will sometimes come on because of problems stemming from the transmission. You want every component under your hood running as optimally as possible. Give your transmission the assistance it needs with Rislone transmission stop slip products.
- Transmission Stop Slip With Leak Repair: Transmission slipping can be a concerning experience, particularly because transmission repair costs are often exceptionally high. Poor-quality transmission fluid or fluid leakage could cause slipping, as could overheating in older vehicles. Give yourself immediate peace of mind by adding Rislone Transmission Stop Slip With Leak Repair to your transmission fluid. Our formula eliminates slipping, repairs hard shifting and stops fluid leaks. This product is suitable for both manual and automatic transmissions, and you can add it to your transmission fluid at any time.
Improve Engine Performance With Rislone
You get out of something what you put into it — get the best performance out of your engine by treating it with the best additives on the market. Rislone’s line of engine, fuel system and transmission products were designed with optimal performance in mind. You deserve to get every mile possible out of your vehicle, and our specially formulated additives are the treatments your engine needs to restore its power, rebuild its compression and enhance its performance. With Rislone running through your engine, age becomes just a number.
Don’t settle for poor engine performance — keep your car running as smooth as possible for as long as possible. For over a century, Rislone has been the trusted provider of high-quality automotive additives. As we continue to provide revolutionary performance products for cars of every year, make and model, we remain focused on helping you keep your vehicle in great condition. Visit our blog for more helpful car maintenance tips and browse our inventory for the reliable engine performance additives you need. Contact us today with any questions – we’re always happy to chat about cars.