John Hollenhorst reportingImagine being able to drive your car 100- thousand miles, maybe even 500- thousand, without changing your oil!
New test results to be announced tomorrow by the federal Department of Energy suggest it may be possible, with a device that's already available. And a Bluffdale, Utah, company hopes to play a leading role.
In the motor industry, gizmos and gimmicks come and go. Some of what people put under the hood sounds too good to be true. But what about this blue contraption? Promoters say it will virtually eliminate this messy job: changing the oil.
Kim Capps/ R.G.S., Inc.: "If there were no mechanical problems, under the right conditions, yeah, we could see a half million miles on the same oil."
And not only that.
Matt Luntz/ R.G.S., Inc.: "People get significantly improved fuel mileage, and significantly less wear inside their engine."
The "oil bypass filter" is an old idea that's never become standard in the industry. But it really does seem to work. Tuesday, the Idaho National Laboratory will announce favorable test results on two models, including the blue one sold by RGS of Bluffdale. RGS officials say some test trucks are up to 180,000 miles without an oil change.
At this trucking firm, one truck is at 62,000 miles, and counting. It's a hopeful sign for a firm that consumes a quarter-million quarts of oil a year.
Mark Hadley/ Central Refrigerated Service: "If we can cut that in half, obviously there's a huge savings, not only for the environment, but for our company."
The filter circulates engine oil through tightly wound cotton string. It removes microscopic particles a regular oil filter misses.
Matt Luntz: "They cause damage. They scratch and create friction inside of your engine."
A heat processor removes water and fuel contamination, preserving the lubricating ability.
Mark Hadley: "The engine doesn't have to work as hard. It saves fuel."
Promoters hope for the day when every new car has one built-in.
Kim Capps: "At some point it's going to be standard that a car will be able to go 100,000 miles between oil changes."
The backing from a federal lab may give the bypass filter a shot in the arm that's been a long time coming. The concept dates back to the great depression, when farmers strained tractor oil through cheesecloth, and then heated it before they put it back in the tractor.
The filter insert does need to be changed every 20- thousand miles or so. And, the oil has to be tested regularly to make sure it doesn't deteriorate.