I have noticed fewer mass polluting vehicles on the road lately and am curious as to why. Getting behind a nasty oil burning smoker was common and I would get behind one at least once per day, often more. These always seemed to be a Chrysler product of some type, usually an older minivan with the Mitsubishi engine that was notorious for oil burning. Although I am happy not to get behind cars like this, I am curious as to why you simply do not see vehicles like this nearly as much as in the past. I live in a rural part of Missouri where we don’t have emissions inspections so that isn’t why.
Here are some reasons I have heard.
- Cash for clunkers got a lot of these junkers off the road.
- Police, etc. ticket drivers of these vehicles enough that it is best to either junk or repair the car.
- Engines are built better and tend to last longer, even with less than ideal maintenance, so some other major failure or accident takes the car off the road before the engine has a chance to really begin burning oil.
- Newer cars have catalytic converters that are better able to convert this smoke to cleaner exhaust.
Another theory that I have but have never heard is that because cars have so many sensors and everything is computerized that semi-modern to modern cars will simply run terrible or not at all because all the O2 sensors, EGR, etc. become so fouled with carbon from all the oil burning in a very short time.
I know that some of the lower income people around here haven’t just decided to start maintaining their cars better so why is this the case? I talked to a used car dealer once who sold mostly $1500 or less vehicles. Most of these were the result of his primary business being a towing company. He would get called by the authorities to tow in abandoned vehicles. These cars are almost all 10 year or older and have something wrong with them so the owner doesn’t pay the tow fee and he applies for an abandoned vehicle title after many months. He then repairs the usually minor failure and puts the car up for sale. He told me that he always puts a quality synthetic oil in these types of vehicles because this is usually the last oil change these kinds of cars will ever get. He says most engines will run at least a year without an oil change and the owner won’t blame him for selling them a bad vehicle by the time the engine fails due to owner neglect.