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Stuff dishonest car dealers used to put in the oil of worn out engines?

The first car I bought was a 1947 Pontiac back in 1962. I paid $75 for the car. The paint was dull, and the chrome had surface rust. However, some steel wool on the chrome, and some rubbing compound, polish and wax and the car looked new. The body and floor pan had absolutely no rust. However, the engine used oil at the rate of a quart per 250 miles. The cluster gear in the transmission made a howl when the car was in first gear. I should have swapped in another engine and repaired the transmission, but I bought a newer car when I saved the money. I should have stuck with the 47 Pontiac. I learned that if the body and chassis are rust free, the car is worth fixing,-at least it was the case back then.

Years ago my friends & I were towing a very heavily loaded car with my dad’s truck that was also very heavily loaded with engines, transmissions and other parts. We had barely started home we the clutch pads in the automatic transmission in my dad’s truck went. My friend was a master at fixing cars. He dropped the trannie packed it with 90 at gear oil and saw dust…and it worked. He had do this several more times because of the weight of our load to get us home. We unloaded and the truck ran great for about 10 or 11 years. My dad sold the truck and a camper to some friends of his …and when they tried to make it up the Siskiyou Summit in Oregon with the camper on… the transmission failed…they towed it back to my dad who was so confused about how the heck sawdust got into his transmission. I could hear him hollerin clear across the street. I of course knew nothing lol.

I never heard that about an automatic but the rumor was some of the used car lots used saw dust in the manuals to quiet the gears.

… and in the differential.

I wonder if this crap would work in a modern car with the tighter tolerances and emissions controls. I mean sawdust in variable valve timing and such probably isn’t going to go too well. Then there is the oil filter which I guess would plug and bypass. I am too young to have ever dealt with an automotive engine without a filter.

One thing I have noticed in recent years is the great reduction in gross polluters. You used to get stuck behind some old turd just blowing oil smoke out the tailpipe. It was usually a Chrysler product but you saw it across all brands. Now you NEVER see this except for the black smoke trucks which do this on purpose. I figure with tighter tolerances and emissions controls, an oil burner like that would foul some sensor and basically refuse to run or run so poorly and get such bad mileage it wouldn’t be worth trying to keep it on the road. You would either fix the problem or junk the car.

The new scam is the financing. You take a $3000 car and it ends up costing $10,000 by the time it is paid for! It has always been this way but I have checked out some of the local “Buy here, pay here” places and am just amazed that this many people fall for this. There is sucker born everyday!

One thing I have noticed about all the buy here, pay here places around here is that all maintenance is included in the price of the car until it is paid off. They want it to run as long as possible to keep getting those payments. The days of putting sawdust in the oil, transmission fluid, or whatever just to get it off the lot are over. It is all about the financing these days!

One thing about the older cars, they tended to belch and puff more noxious stuff out the rear anyway. No catalytic converters before 1974 or 75ish. Also, carbs delivered fuel less precisely than efi. So you’d generally have more unburned fuel in the exhaust too. Just more emissions on the older cars, even if they were running relatively well.

I am talking about even 1980’s and 1990’s cars that used to be seen burning oil. These are not that old and most are probably fuel injected.

One of my friends was telling me about a relatively new model Ford Escape he once had. It was bought used from the dealer and it appeared that something electronic was wrong. It would just die once a month and everything would go dark. No one could ever figure out out and it wasn’t that big of a deal. His wife was driving it so there was concern it might die at a bad time such as when making a left turn.

Of course the warranty went out but the car seemed fine, at least for a while. It went the entire winter without any trouble. His wife was driving on the first warm day and she fired up the AC. The car just died and then started dying like once every 30 minutes from there on out. It would sometimes go longer and sometimes twice within 5 minutes but it was enough of a problem that something had to be done.

They took it to a Ford dealer who charged $150 for a diagnostic and found nothing. They were like “It didn’t do it while we had it and we have to pay our people an hourly rate so we can keep it many days and charge you more.” They took it somewhere else, paid another diagnostic, and were told “The problem is too complex and we cannot find it. Your best bet is to trade it in.” They took it to another place and didn’t bother to pay the diagnostic but were told yet again, the best option was to trade it in.

He thought about looking into fixing it but knew it could get quite costly. He had also just had a 2nd kid and were thinking about a larger car, plus this one wasn’t reliable. He began to drive this to work each day because he didn’t want his wife driving it.

So, they found a deal on another car and traded this in at the same dealer that sold it to them as they figured they should be left with the lemon. I wonder what happened the next time around. Would they try to sell something that would die every 30 minutes or actually write it off as a cost of selling a used car by digging in and fixing it right?

I would guess something like this was a grounding issue. I probably would have at least removed and cleaned all the major grounding connections if they were easily accessible.

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It’s too bad a lot of old time radio and television repairmen are either retired or no longer living. These technician knew how to trace down an intermittent problem.
I guess the world is different. Today, mechanics have to have computers to tell them what to do. In the old days, we programmed computers and that told the computers what to do.

I filled the crankcase of a car I traded in 1968 with STP to try and slightly reduce the oil burning so that I could get more than salvage value for the car. Prior to the STP, the smoke was so bad you couldn’t see out the rear window. I saved the sawdust for the differential and the overripe bananas for the transmission.

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Could have been a failing ignition switch . . .

I’ve run into a few that would fail with no warning whatsoever . . . and no fault codes ever

Kind of like a failing crankshaft position sensor that never generates a fault code

If your diagnostic skills are weak, you have no chance of ever figuring it out

I would have probably done at least some basic diagnostics on the car but he was itching to get a bigger car, was worried about leaving his wife and young girls stranded somewhere. His wife has to drive through bad areas of town sometimes as well. Both work full time and the car is needed so taking it down for a while would be a problem.

He did seem to think anything with an electrical draw would trigger the problem. Turning on the lights or them automatically coming on, etc. The AC seemed to be the thing that finally killed it though.

What was stp, like 90w

It’s still available, heavier than SAE 90. Think the viscosity of cold honey.

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STP was popular in the 1960s and 1970s to reduce oil consumption and somewhat quiet slightly noisy manual transmissions and differentials. Fortunately I did not suffer from any of those so have no first hand experience.

I doubt STP would help most modern engines if it is that thick with all the variable valve timing and hydraulic lifters, etc. Research seems to indicate most oil treatments are snake oil for the most part. Lucas is a prime example.

I have gone up a grade of viscosity on older engines before but would be nervous to change from say a 5W30 to a 20W50. I have run into some used and abused mower engines that probably would have benefited though.

I would go a step further, and instead of merely “not helping”, I think that the use of STP in an engine with variable valve timing could actually cause damage.

Would STP or thicker oil actually damage the VVT mechanism?
Or would it tend to limit full VVT operation?

I suspect it’s the latter. But if someone wants to show me how damage can occur, I’d welcome learning.

Too thick of an oil can cause hydraulic lifters to overpump. This will lead to burned valves if it continues long at all…

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