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I'm probably going to give it a shot after I retire, when I won't care if a chunk of carbon falls in a cylinder and scores the walls. For now I'm just going to keep adding oil and change the filter twice a year. If all goes well I will be retiring next year and so I only really need to get another 20k out of this engine if it decides to crater.

I've seen some good video of the PEA working but what I have seen is that you want to do it a cylinder at a time rather than the intake method, let it soak overnight and shop vac the deposits out. I believe mine are bad enough that I can't get a seal tight enough to keep the cylinders clear if I do it like that.
Piston soaks are a good method. Ask anyone who owned a Saturn S-Series car for a while. I probably should add something about them to the page I wrote this morning.

Or maybe not. When done wrong they can do some serious damage (hydrolock). I'll have to think about it.

Richard
 

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When done wrong they can do some serious damage (hydrolock).
What would be the "wrong way", just curious. I haven't done my own yet so I want to get it right the first time. 馃榿
 

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So far, I myself haven't had a drop of burn. Dealer fills it to about half inch above the hash marks, checked day after oil change, checked this morning, same spot.

I got it decarboned at my 30k service, and will at my 60k.
I read mixed reviews on changing type of oil used.

Out of curiosity, what would going to 5w-10 do, or 5w-0?
 

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So far, I myself haven't had a drop of burn. Dealer fills it to about half inch above the hash marks, checked day after oil change, checked this morning, same spot.

I got it decarboned at my 30k service, and will at my 60k.
I read mixed reviews on changing type of oil used.

Out of curiosity, what would going to 5w-10 do, or 5w-0?
Never heard of either one. I know of synthetics that are 0-20, but never heard of a modern oil designed to be thinner at operating temperatures than its cold weather viscosity. Oil is essentially designed to have flow at cold weather (your W number) and thickness at high temperature (in order to keep bearings, cam lobes, etc lubricated). Aside from that you've got additive packages to reduce metal to metal friction and slow down metals loading in your oil, keep passages from gumming, etc, but mostly they are designing something that isn't Jell-o when it's cold and water when it's hot.

If they make something like what you suggested, I wouldn't use it. 20 weight is already pretty damned thin oil. I wouldn't trust anything thinner than that even if it was synthetic.
 

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What would be the "wrong way", just curious. I haven't done my own yet so I want to get it right the first time. 馃榿
Allowing fluid to escape past the valve seals and fill up the cylinders. An internal combustion engine is essentially a big air pump; parts aren't designed to compress fluids. Get enough fluid in a cylinder that can't be vaporized out the exhaust manifold, or passed back into the head, or into the crankcase past the rings, and you're going to break something. Most likely things like piston rod pins and rings, which are weak points, but something hit just right can blow a hole through the engine block.

I had a minivan that blew a head gasket on me once on the interstate. I knew it had filled the cylinder with antifreeze and I told the guys that picked it up not to try to start it or turn it over because it was hydrolocked. They did it anyway and busted 3 or 4 teeth off the flywheel, unknown to me until about a year later when my wife called me and said it was stuck in the garage and was just whirring. Amazingly enough we drove it all over the place and never happened to stop right at the missing teeth until that time it pulled into the garage. I'm certain that when they tried turning it over full of fluid the stress snapped those teeth off and they either didn't notice or rotated it so I wouldn't notice.
 

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What would be the "wrong way", just curious. I haven't done my own yet so I want to get it right the first time. 馃榿
Any way that doesn't remove all the liquid from the cylinders before starting the engine after the soak. Fluid in the cylinders can cause the cylinders to literally explode on the compression stroke, as well as severely damage the rods and crankshaft (and theoretically even the block), because it doesn't compress like air does. That's known as "hydrolock."

The most common ways to avoid that include sucking out the solvent with a shop vac, oil siphon pump, or even a turkey baster with aquarium tubing connected to it; followed by turning the engine over a few times with the spark plugs removed afterwards. The trace fluid that's left won't be enough to damage anything.

Piston soaks were such a common maintenance procedure on Saturn S-Series engines that GM sold a solvent just for that purpose (P/N 12378549, now discontinued). When Saturn was disbanded, GM discontinued the solvent, so enthusiasts started using others (Seafoam, MMO, Gumout, etc.). They all worked to some extent. Seafoam was probably the strongest.

Nowadays I'd probably use Techron if I still had an S-Series car to play with.

The other important part of the procedure came after the soak (and after the fluid evacuation, of course); and that was to let the engine warm up to operating temperature, drive it around the block a few times, and then do an oil and filter change with as complete a drain as possible. Lift the car opposite the drain plug, drain the oil hot, and go have lunch while it's draining. You want to get all the solvent and crud out.

Nowadays, I would combine that with something like Techron or Berryman fuel system cleaner in the gas after the soak to continue the cleaning process for a while.

Richard
 

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I posted before that doing this procedure is popular with Ford Rangers but they all swear it fouls the plugs and a plug change is needed after the Seafoam.
 

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Any way that doesn't remove all the liquid from the cylinders before starting the engine after the soak.
My mistake, I thought you were still speaking about using a cleaner like CRC or Seafoam since the hour of waiting after the product is sprayed is referred to as a "soak". Beyond using one of those cleaners I'm not going to be doing anything myself to clean the valves. Hopefully a periodic spray clean will be all I ever need.
 
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"Dealer fills it to about half inch above the hash marks.."
This overfill issue was one reason :unsure: decided to do my own oil change. Got tired of pumping out the overfill oil;)
I tell the oil change mechanic to use 1/2 qt. less than the specs say and it's then filled to the proper amount. I think the specs they're given are off slightly.
 

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My mistake, I thought you were still speaking about using a cleaner like CRC or Seafoam since the hour of waiting after the product is sprayed is referred to as a "soak". Beyond using one of those cleaners I'm not going to be doing anything myself to clean the valves. Hopefully a periodic spray clean will be all I ever need.
No, this is a different procedure. It's a piston soak to clean the pistons and rings, and it's typically left to soak overnight. It does nothing for the valves.

The S-Series engines were works of art -- except for the idiotic oil ring design, which they never changed. As a result, most S-Series engines would eventually start burning oil. Those that were switched to synthetic early on tended to start burning oil much later in life; but eventually, practically all of them would start burning oil.

Part of the problem was that the engines took forever to warm up. The engineers were concerned about nucleate boiling, so they overbuilt the cooling system. That made for very slow warm-ups, with the engine running in rich idle, crankcase pressure higher than manifold pressure (so the PCV valve would be open the whole time), and the engine too cool to properly burn off the oil gases, encouraging impingement instead. Combine that with the crappy oil ring design, and it's no wonder the chamber, pistons, and rings got fouled.

I also observed an anecdotal association between platinum spark plugs and fouling. The car was designed to use cheap copper plugs, but most non-Saturn mechanics and many DIY-ers would replace them with platinum. Among other problems, the platinum plugs seemed to foul much more quickly. They also sometimes triggered odd codes like P0341, which was odd because the S engines didn't even have camshaft position sensors. That code on an S engine always meant plugs, wires, or both; or once in a while, coil packs.

Plugs that triggered malfunction codes for non-existent parts couldn't possibly be working at their best efficiency, which I believed also added to the carbon issues. Switching back to copper plugs (and changing the wires if they were old) usually cleared up the P0341.

When I acquired an old Saturn, a throttle body cleaning, piston soak, plug and wire replacement (using copper plugs), and PCV valve replacement were de rigueur. I would replace the PCV valve with a fixed-orifice one made for a Ford. It smoothed out the crankcase pressure, thus reducing the blow-by and making the engine run a bit more smoothly.

I also would replace the oil filter with one made for a Ford that had the same threads and bypass as the Saturn filter, but about twice the capacity. Then I'd do a short-OCI oil change or two with Delvac or Rotella to clean out the innards without the trauma of a flush. The first drain would come out like tar most of the time.

Just doing those simple tasks would often transform a barely-running Saturn to one that ran like new. It would also stop or dramatically reduce the oil burning, although not necessarily the first time. Sometimes it took more than one soak. My last S-Series car burned no oil and had something like 187,000 miles on it when I sold it. It was an oil-burner when I bought it, but not when I sold it.

The reason I mention it here (other than nostalgia) is because I am convinced that although the cause is different (KIA engines don't have poorly-designed oil rings), the oil-burning problem still gets down to deposits around the rings. The valve face deposits affect performance more than they directly cause oil burning. But when the deposits slough off, some of it winds up around the rings (along with the more typical deposits formed by combustion, especially when people use el-cheapo gas).

That also means that if people use good oil, keep the induction system clean, use good gas, and use Techron regularly, right from the start, they may never have to deal with this problem and debate doing things like piston soaks and installing catch cans.

By the way: The induction cleaning will do the rings some good, especially if the product has a high PEA content. But I've become convinced that the Techron in the gas should be considered part of the procedure, not the least reason being that deposits are likely to be coming off the valves for at least a few hundred miles after the cleaning, and possibly as much as a thousand miles. Because the valves are likely to be shedding carbon for quite some time after the intake cleaning, it makes sense to be running the PEA in the fuel to help prevent the shed carbon from fouling the rings.

PEA was first verified by SAE as a highly-effective combustion-chamber cleaner back in 1983, with a single treated tank of PEA-treated gas reducing a vehicle's octane-requirement increase from original spec by as much as 30 to 40 percent, and the benefit lasting about 3,000 miles. Concentrations of as little as 0.2 percent PEA were found to be effective, with a the curve starting to flatten around 0.3 percent, and little or no additional benefit at concentrations greater than 0.5 percent. It's pretty potent stuff.

Interestingly, the most effectiveness for combustion chamber cleaning was obtained in cars used for commutes of about half an hour. The most effective cycle seems to be to get the engine hot during the commute, then let it "soak" in-between when the car is parked, and to do this repeatedly.

It makes sense (at least to me), therefore, to time the intake cleaning to coincide with a Techron cycle (or several consecutive cycles, if the chamber is badly fouled). Doubling up on the PEA doesn't increase its effectiveness; but using it for a longer time at the standard dose, while driving normally, does. To do it right after the intake cleaning adds the additional benefit of reducing the chances of dislodged carbon from the valves fouling the rings, potentially making the oil-consumption problem even worse.

In a nutshell, it still comes down to the triad of good oil (source reduction), intake cleaning for the valves, and fuel treatment with PEA for the combustion chamber and rings.

Richard
 

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No, this is a different procedure. It's a piston soak to clean the pistons and rings, and it's typically left to soak overnight. It does nothing for the valves.

The S-Series engines were works of art -- except for the idiotic oil ring design, which they never changed. As a result, most S-Series engines would eventually start burning oil. Those that were switched to synthetic early on tended to start burning oil much later in life; but eventually, practically all of them would start burning oil.

Part of the problem was that the engines took forever to warm up. The engineers were concerned about nucleate boiling, so they overbuilt the cooling system. That made for very slow warm-ups, with the engine running in rich idle, crankcase pressure higher than manifold pressure (so the PCV valve would be open the whole time), and the engine too cool to properly burn off the oil gases, encouraging impingement instead. Combine that with the crappy oil ring design, and it's no wonder the chamber, pistons, and rings got fouled.

I also observed an anecdotal association between platinum spark plugs and fouling. The car was designed to use cheap copper plugs, but most non-Saturn mechanics and many DIY-ers would replace them with platinum. Among other problems, the platinum plugs seemed to foul much more quickly. They also sometimes triggered odd codes like P0341, which was odd because the S engines didn't even have camshaft position sensors. That code on an S engine always meant plugs, wires, or both; or once in a while, coil packs.

Plugs that triggered malfunction codes for non-existent parts couldn't possibly be working at their best efficiency, which I believed also added to the carbon issues. Switching back to copper plugs (and changing the wires if they were old) usually cleared up the P0341.

When I acquired an old Saturn, a throttle body cleaning, piston soak, plug and wire replacement (using copper plugs), and PCV valve replacement were de rigueur. I would replace the PCV valve with a fixed-orifice one made for a Ford. It smoothed out the crankcase pressure, thus reducing the blow-by and making the engine run a bit more smoothly.

I also would replace the oil filter with one made for a Ford that had the same threads and bypass as the Saturn filter, but about twice the capacity. Then I'd do a short-OCI oil change or two with Delvac or Rotella to clean out the innards without the trauma of a flush. The first drain would come out like tar most of the time.

Just doing those simple tasks would often transform a barely-running Saturn to one that ran like new. It would also stop or dramatically reduce the oil burning, although not necessarily the first time. Sometimes it took more than one soak. My last S-Series car burned no oil and had something like 187,000 miles on it when I sold it. It was an oil-burner when I bought it, but not when I sold it.

The reason I mention it here (other than nostalgia) is because I am convinced that although the cause is different (KIA engines don't have poorly-designed oil rings), the oil-burning problem still gets down to deposits around the rings. The valve face deposits affect performance more than they directly cause oil burning. But when the deposits slough off, some of it winds up around the rings (along with the more typical deposits formed by combustion, especially when people use el-cheapo gas).

That also means that if people use good oil, keep the induction system clean, use good gas, and use Techron regularly, right from the start, they may never have to deal with this problem and debate doing things like piston soaks and installing catch cans.

By the way: The induction cleaning will do the rings some good, especially if the product has a high PEA content. But I've become convinced that the Techron in the gas should be considered part of the procedure, not the least reason being that deposits are likely to be coming off the valves for at least a few hundred miles after the cleaning, and possibly as much as a thousand miles. Because the valves are likely to be shedding carbon for quite some time after the intake cleaning, it makes sense to be running the PEA in the fuel to help prevent the shed carbon from fouling the rings.

PEA was first verified by SAE as a highly-effective combustion-chamber cleaner back in 1983, with a single treated tank of PEA-treated gas reducing a vehicle's octane-requirement increase from original spec by as much as 30 to 40 percent, and the benefit lasting about 3,000 miles. Concentrations of as little as 0.2 percent PEA were found to be effective, with a the curve starting to flatten around 0.3 percent, and little or no additional benefit at concentrations greater than 0.5 percent. It's pretty potent stuff.

Interestingly, the most effectiveness for combustion chamber cleaning was obtained in cars used for commutes of about half an hour. The most effective cycle seems to be to get the engine hot during the commute, then let it "soak" in-between when the car is parked, and to do this repeatedly.

It makes sense (at least to me), therefore, to time the intake cleaning to coincide with a Techron cycle (or several consecutive cycles, if the chamber is badly fouled). Doubling up on the PEA doesn't increase its effectiveness; but using it for a longer time at the standard dose, while driving normally, does. To do it right after the intake cleaning adds the additional benefit of reducing the chances of dislodged carbon from the valves fouling the rings, potentially making the oil-consumption problem even worse.

In a nutshell, it still comes down to the triad of good oil (source reduction), intake cleaning for the valves, and fuel treatment with PEA for the combustion chamber and rings.

Richard

Richard, thank you for this very thorough explanation and a wealth of knowledge! 馃憤

Can you tell me, is there any worry whether using a product like CRC will allow pieces of carbon to break off and damage the catalytic converter? Will Techron used at the same time also help to keep this from happening? My biggest worry about applying a CRC treatment is that I end up causing more harm than good, especially since the car hasn't a warranty to fall on should something go bad.

Also, during this last year that we've owned our Soul it spends most of it's time with short drive commutes of about a mile or two. (I might have been better off buying a golf cart, LOL) Unfortunately due to the pandemic now it really doesn't even get driven on longer drives unless I specifically take it out and drive it that way for fun. Before Covid the car would get several long, highway drives per month, so I've been trying to compensate with longer highway drives with no real destination at least once a month. It's a waste of gas and time, but I want to get the engine up to higher temps to compensate for all of those under-temp drives. Is this overkill?

Other than using Techron, TopTier gas and synthetic oil with frequent changes, is there anything else that I should be doing to help make this engine last? How do you feel about oil catch cans and would one be beneficial in my short drive situation? I plan to replace the PCV soon and this should give me a hint as to just how much these short commutes are fouling that system.

Otherwise our Soul is driving great, the engine purrs and the power is strong, but I want to be as proactive as possible to help this car last long enough to hopefully be our last car in this lifetime. 馃槒

鈥揔erig
 

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Richard, thank you for this very thorough explanation and a wealth of knowledge! 馃憤

Can you tell me, is there any worry whether using a product like CRC will allow pieces of carbon to break off and damage the catalytic converter? Will Techron used at the same time also help to keep this from happening? My biggest worry about applying a CRC treatment is that I end up causing more harm than good, especially since the car hasn't a warranty to fall on should something go bad.

Also, during this last year that we've owned our Soul it spends most of it's time with short drive commutes of about a mile or two. (I might have been better off buying a golf cart, LOL) Unfortunately due to the pandemic now it really doesn't even get driven on longer drives unless I specifically take it out and drive it that way for fun. Before Covid the car would get several long, highway drives per month, so I've been trying to compensate with longer highway drives with no real destination at least once a month. It's a waste of gas and time, but I want to get the engine up to higher temps to compensate for all of those under-temp drives. Is this overkill?

Other than using Techron, TopTier gas and synthetic oil with frequent changes, is there anything else that I should be doing to help make this engine last? How do you feel about oil catch cans and would one be beneficial in my short drive situation? I plan to replace the PCV soon and this should give me a hint as to just how much these short commutes are fouling that system.

Otherwise our Soul is driving great, the engine purrs and the power is strong, but I want to be as proactive as possible to help this car last long enough to hopefully be our last car in this lifetime. 馃槒

鈥揔erig
I doubt that cleaning the intake system will in any way harm the CAT. First of all, the amount of carbon is a minuscule percentage of what it deals with in ordinary operation. Secondly, even if some solid carbon made it to the CAT, the catalysts typically heat to somewhere ranging from 1,200 F to more than 1,600 F, which should deal with the flakes quite nicely (assuming they don't just pass through the honeycomb). Thirdly, reducing the oil burning will result in a net drop in carbon emissions over the CAT's life.

As for additional things to do, you're probably doing more than 95 percent of owners do nowadays. The demise of high school shop class has resulted in entire generations of clueless drivers.

Maybe use the Techron more frequently. The 1983 SAE study found the benefits lasted 3,000 miles, but that was to pre-treatment condition. Why wait for it to get that far? The expense is minimal if you're barely driving the car anyway. Also, the short-ish drives seem to exploit the PEA's effectiveness best as long as the engine reaches normal operating temperature.

What I do when making short trips, such as to the Post Office, is just lengthen the "downwind leg" (the leg of a landing approach before the turns to base and final) until the engine is at operating temperature. The ride back is enough to burn off the water and also help the PEA do its magic. But taking the car out for a romp once in a while is good, too.

I'm conflicted about catch cans. They can do no harm as long as they're emptied regularly, but I don't think they're necessary with a good synthetic oil. They also may cause inspection issues in some states because they're technically a modification of part of the emissions-control system. If you want to try one, however, it can do no harm. Just save the parts you removed so you can reverse it for inspection, if your state requires one.

Richard
 

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I tell the oil change mechanic to use 1/2 qt. less than the specs say and it's then filled to the proper amount. I think the specs they're given are off slightly.
Is the oil in the bulk line delivered to your oil cap opening by a preset number? Does the attendant set the number at five quarts (for example)?

It's been many-many years since I last visited an oil change shop. I think my last visit was in 2004, when I was hospitalized and couldn't crawl under my vehicle for a couple months.
 
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Richard, thank you for this very thorough explanation and a wealth of knowledge! 馃憤

Can you tell me, is there any worry whether using a product like CRC will allow pieces of carbon to break off and damage the catalytic converter? Will Techron used at the same time also help to keep this from happening? My biggest worry about applying a CRC treatment is that I end up causing more harm than good, especially since the car hasn't a warranty to fall on should something go bad.

Also, during this last year that we've owned our Soul it spends most of it's time with short drive commutes of about a mile or two. (I might have been better off buying a golf cart, LOL) Unfortunately due to the pandemic now it really doesn't even get driven on longer drives unless I specifically take it out and drive it that way for fun. Before Covid the car would get several long, highway drives per month, so I've been trying to compensate with longer highway drives with no real destination at least once a month. It's a waste of gas and time, but I want to get the engine up to higher temps to compensate for all of those under-temp drives. Is this overkill?

Other than using Techron, TopTier gas and synthetic oil with frequent changes, is there anything else that I should be doing to help make this engine last? How do you feel about oil catch cans and would one be beneficial in my short drive situation? I plan to replace the PCV soon and this should give me a hint as to just how much these short commutes are fouling that system.

Otherwise our Soul is driving great, the engine purrs and the power is strong, but I want to be as proactive as possible to help this car last long enough to hopefully be our last car in this lifetime. 馃槒

鈥揔erig
The old tradition of Sunday drives.
During the summer we pack a lunch and head out to a park, where we can be by our selves (with a couple camp chairs and a table).
Otherwise I have developed a 20 mile loop on the Interstates that takes me back by our pharmacy that's 3 miles away.
 

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As for additional things to do, you're probably doing more than 95 percent of owners do nowadays. The demise of high school shop class has resulted in entire generations of clueless drivers.

No doubt! 馃槱
Thanks again for offering your advice! I'll continue with what I've been doing, but I may add more Techron as you suggested. Good insurance. I'll consider an OCC after I look at the condition of the PCV. Plus I'll increase the number of "Sunday drives" I take, especially during the pandemic.
I do appreciate your advice! Thank you! 馃憤
 

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Is the oil in the bulk line delivered to your oil cap opening by a preset number? Does the attendant set the number at five quarts (for example)?

It's been many-many years since I last visited an oil change shop. I think my last visit was in 2004, when I was hospitalized and couldn't crawl under my vehicle for a couple months.
I believe that's how they measure it, but I wasn't there. My wife has taken it in for the changes, but I'm going to be there the next time to make sure how they're doing things is the way I want them to. That way I can pick the service manager's brain about their procedures.

Unfortunately I can't physically do oil changes myself at home to better control the process. But they only charge me $35, which is almost the cost of the materials for me. I just need to establish that I'm the customer with the shop manager, in case they treat women differently than men as a lot of mechanic's shops still do, sadly. 馃槪
 

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The old tradition of Sunday drives.
During the summer we pack a lunch and head out to a park, where we can be by our selves (with a couple camp chairs and a table).
Otherwise I have developed a 20 mile loop on the Interstates that takes me back by our pharmacy that's 3 miles away.
I'd love to have done this last summer, but job schedules always seem to conflict in my family these days. Then, as the cooler weather moves in, mixed in with the limits from the pandemic, makes Fall destinations fewer than normal. So we'll just drive to drive. 馃槈
 

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I believe that's how they measure it, but I wasn't there. My wife has taken it in for the changes, but I'm going to be there the next time to make sure how they're doing things is the way I want them to. That way I can pick the service manager's brain about their procedures.

Unfortunately I can't physically do oil changes myself at home to better control the process. But they only charge me $35, which is almost the cost of the materials for me. I just need to establish that I'm the customer with the shop manager, in case they treat women differently than men as a lot of mechanic's shops still do, sadly. 馃槪
That was the norm back in the days when boys typically took shop class and girls typically didn't. Nowadays, most young men and women are equally clueless about things mechanical. Not around here so much, where a lot of them are farmers and have been driving and maintaining tractors since roughly the same time they were potty-trained; but the local college kids from the cities and suburbs think I'm some kind of car genius because I know where the oil dipstick is.

Richard
 
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