Will the "magic pellets" I dropped into each cylinder prolong the life of my engine?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1984 BMW 528e with 248,000 miles. I bought it when it had 47,000.
Lately, I've been burning a quart of oil every 375 to 500 miles. I can still buy
20W-50 for 99 cents a quart, and the quotes I've obtained on a rebuild are at
least $2,000. So I've been content until now to just "burn, baby, burn." The side
benefit is that our north Florida property is mosquito-free due to my daily
foggings. However, my brother-in-law is coming to town and will be using the car
for a couple of weeks. So, looking for a quick, cheap and desperate fix, I bought
the "magic pellets" from the JC Whitney catalog. I pulled the plugs out and
dropped 11 pellets into each cylinder. The directions said nine, but I said if
nine are good, 11 must be better. My wife thinks she sees less smoke coming out
of the tailpipe, and I think I'm already noticing more power off the line. I
still have 60 miles to go in the break-in period. Will the pellets work? -- Brian

RAY: You're going to have to write back and tell us, Brian.

TOM: Here's the theory: When engines get old and worn out, space develops between
the piston rings and the cylinder walls. That lets oil sneak into the combustion
chamber, where it gets burned and then spewed out the tailpipe as blue haze --
which appeals to neither man nor mosquito.

RAY: And although we couldn't get the scientists at JC Whitney to divulge their
"pelletalogical" secrets, our guess is that the magic pellets must somehow melt
against the cylinder walls, thickening the walls and therefore closing the spaces
between the walls and the piston rings (Note: this is complete and utter
speculation on our part -- and therefore, probably bull-feathers).

TOM: We DO know of one case where they actually worked. At least for a while. How
far did Nissenbaum's front-end loader run with those pellets?

RAY: About 60 miles.

TOM: My guess is that this is a temporary solution at best, Brian. It's sold to
people like you -- with 240,000 miles on an old beater and nothing to lose. And,
now that you've invested in the stuff, you WANT it to work, and you might even
think you notice improvement where there is none.

RAY: But as I said, we have no scientific evidence either way on the magic
pellets. So write to us every 60 miles and let us know if they're still working.

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