I have a beautiful year old Chrysler Imperial which runs...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a beautiful 30 year old Chrysler Imperial which runs great. If I drive it only 1,000 miles a year, using unleaded premium, am I harming the engine? When I ask old-car people at shows, the answers are about 50-50 yes vs. no. Please show me the way.

TOM: Don't worry about it, Frank. If you're only doing 1,000 miles a year, you could run the car on Felippo Berrio Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and you probably wouldn't harm the engine.

RAY: The truth is, the lead that used to be in gasoline helped protect the valve seats from being pounded by the valves. And if they get pounded hard enough and long enough (usually by sustained, high speed driving), the seat will eventually wear out. Then you'll have a condition called "valve seat recession," and you'll need to install new valve seats (hardened ones if you can get them).

TOM: But that may never happen, considering how little you drive this car. And even if it does happen some day, it's not that big a deal. So I wouldn't stay up nights worrying about valve seat recession, Warren. Let the Clinton administration worry about that.

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