The "pre-luber" buy or not to buy?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1990

Dear Tom and Ray:

I've heard that someone makes a device that lubricates the engine with a separate oil pump before the car is started. They claim that it will save significant wear and tear on the engine. Have you heard of such a device, and what do you think of it?

RAY: The device you refer to is called a pre-luber, and it's made by a company of the same name in Carlsbad, California. They do claim that it significantly increases engine life, but my brother and I disagree as to its merits.

TOM: I happen to think this device is great. Once the engine starts, the engine's oil pump sends oil to important places like the cylinder walls. But it takes a few seconds for the oil to get there. The guys who make the pre-luber claim that you do more damage in those first few seconds without oil than you do in 10,000 miles of regular driving. And I agree with 'em.

RAY: Au contraire, piston puss. Today's oils have much more cling than they used to, so there's enough residual lubrication hanging on from the previous drive to lubricate the cylinder walls until the oil starts circulating. Moreover, most of today's fuel injected and computer controlled engines don't race as much on cold starts, so there's less chance of damage than in the old days when carbureted cars used to "warm up" at 2500 rpm.

TOM: Wrong again, fender face. Today's fuel injected cars start almost immediately. At least with the older cars, the oil had a chance to start pumping while the car was cranking. My '74 Chevy gives the oil pump a good ten to fifteen sec??onds to get going before the car actually starts. Today's cars start so fast, the oil pump doesn't have a chance.

RAY: Must I put everything in perspective for you? Even if this pre-luber does work---let's say it makes engines last 300,000 miles---who would want their car to last that long?? Aside from a few knuckleheads like you, after 150,000 miles in ANY car, most people would be praying for the thing to die so they can buy a new one. Imagine spending 300,000 miles in an AMC Pacer! You'd feel like a pet goldfish!

TOM: My brother does have a point. I still contend that the pre-luber will make the engine last much longer, but before you buy one, I guess you should ask yourself how you're going to feel if it really DOES work.

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