There’s a new twist to the fuel shortage in Venezuela. The limited fuel that is available is of such low quality that it’s causing catastrophic engine damages to a number of vehicles. And good luck finding the parts you need to repair this damage.
I love vehicles, well, most of them. I particularly love motorcycles, and maybe some classic cars over other old iron.
I have always felt an affinity with them. It has been a love-hate relationship: I have taken excellent care of my vehicles, and I have hated their guts more than once. Like the time I was left stranded without ANY warning nor apparent reason. However, on other occasions the car (or bike) resisted failure bravely until I was safe at home.
I am NOT happy about what has been happening to my beloved vehicles.
What is happening to the automobiles in Venezuela?
It never occurred to me one of the possible effects of the prolonged Venezuelan collapse would be the destruction of my beloved engines. Those fellow bikers who have pampered their hogs and cruisers for decades will understand my concern. My bike was 11 years old and less than 20,000 km when I bought it, and she was always stored inside.
I used a special treatment for engines to reduce friction and prolong life. It’s a good idea to do anything you can for your engines (gasoline engines) to run more smoothly in the Venezuelan heat.
Currently, additives in regular fuels, normally not in Venezuela’s fuel, are being used. They are needed to stabilize the gasoline and avoid it being too corrosive and volatile, among the modifying of other properties like surface tension. Our gasoline formulas, adapted to our country, remain without evaporating for years if properly sealed. The crappy gasoline sold by Iran has an extremely high evaporation rate. People have reported evaporation as high as a half tank in less than a week.
“Fuel” produced by the refineries is proven to be corrosive, and it’s damaging crucial internal components like pumps and tank level gauges. (I prefer carburetors over fuel injection for this very reason.) Imported gasoline has anti-freeze adequate for Iran. Something unnecessary in Venezuela, unless you go to overnight in Los Andes, and generally, temperatures there are not low enough to freeze gasoline.
Severe fires because of the high volatility of this low-quality fuel have occurred. It generates enormous clouds in inadequate spaces where it’s being stored, like basement parking lots in city buildings. And, brings with it the expected consequences of fire and destruction. Many people in Venezuela use only 4 or 5 liters of gasoline then take the remaining out of the tank to sell it to someone else to make ends meet.
Just imagine spending three days in a gasoline station for 15 liters of fuel, and now your car engine is exceptionally damaged? Come on. No one deserves that!
It’s a real tragedy if you ask me. Most of our car population is 12 to 15 years old and older. There were not many new models after 2012, the year the apocalypse unchained. Old engines can last with the addition of treatment (I’m still researching this), but more modern engines suffer a lot.
What is the damage done to the cars?
One of the most common low-quality fuel issues can be excessive friction generated by the fuel’s improper filtering.
Microscopic particles in the liquid stream act as sandpaper in the components where fuel has to go through while flowing at high speed, and high pressure, like the fuel injector tips. Instead of the typical conical mist of fuel/air mixture in the cylinder, a jet-like stream that won’t burn completely washes the oil off the cylinder’s walls. The cylinder is now prone to premature wear, and the engine loses power and starts to smoke.
These are problems that, unless you’re a seasoned mechanic, are going to be expensive. Given the current circumstances in Venezuela, it is very likely going to be challenging to fix these problems at all. Parts availability and shipping costs are a huge factor. Not to mention finding someone who is honest and willing to do the work.
Another critical failure generated by bad gasoline is the knocking. Knocking has a devastating effect on the engine over the long term. The reason is simple. When an engine knocks, the stresses on the parts that embrace the crankshaft peak.
Even with quality fuel, many engine components only work within a specific range of stress. Under high impact loads generated by knocking, material behavior is way different and can crack and break unexpectedly, destroying the engine. Knocking isn’t felt in well-designed modern cars because they absorb engine vibrations. You’ll generally get an indication (check engine light) requiring someone to run the scanner on your car computer.
What is going on with the fuel?
There are gasoline components added that are necessary to make fuel high quality. But, this gasoline is more suited to modern engine consumption. These additional components are likely to change their behavior under the very high temperatures and pressures generated in a running engine’s interior. Some of these components can be very harmful to materials designed to work with regular gasoline.
For instance, in regular fuels, corrosive Sulfide Hydrogen is not going to be present. However, in some gas streams used in huge industrial motors for gas transporting and compression, it is a variable to be considered and controlled.
Once you change something as important as the chemistry of the fuel mixture, almost everything engineers use to predict the failure of engines has just evaporated. (As fast as the crappy gasoline in the tanks of the Venezuelan drivers.) But, to some degree, we could still predict failure based on the maintenance history and attention to the performance.
(Although, we may be navigating uncharted waters with a captain wearing a blindfold, and drunk, at the wheel.)
One of Venezuela’s worst possible scenarios is being left stranded on a desert road, not being a mechanic. Having some device that could increase the chances of fixing the problem is well worth the expense. I highly recommend anyone with a modern car get one of those scanners. They will provide you with the code referring to the type of failure your car is suffering.
If I can get people to pay attention, there is a solution.
I mean, we could produce very high-quality fuel, but this is against the interest of the ruling Mafia. It would mean mobilization and economic recovery and loss of control by the Mafia. The Mafia wants to keep control of the food chain supply in the main cities; they need to keep people from gathering or transporting materials from one place to another.
So, what is this solution? Biogas.
For me, as an engineer, it’s interesting to watch how some people respond to stuff like this. Most of my closest friends are engineers; they get me. We have overcome obstacles and solved many difficult problems together. It’s challenging to find others who understand the need to build a biogas facility. The lack of information on this subject has led to a complete lack of interest by many.
In Venezuela, an old vehicle with a conventional fuel system shines! I suggested almost 1.5 years ago to one of my most appreciated friends that he get rid of his old beater and get himself an older, converted diesel truck. I will never understand why he prefers to sleep in his car for two days in a row at the gas station to refuel.
Modern technologies rock, sure. But for the conditions found in the semi-apocalypse, old vehicles with diesel engines are the way to go. No matter the smoke, if I can run that thing using light crude, unrefined oil that seems to be spilling all over the place because of the communist rampant, reckless ineptitude, so be it!
Even though it takes a great deal of abuse before the permanent (and costly damage) occurs. When it does, it is sudden. It’s uncertain which engines will incur the damage. Different engines have different designs, and their response to knocking is indeed different. Modern engines are more sensitive. My old trashcan of an SUV had a crankshaft knock sensor. That doesn’t impede the engine self-destroying, though. A combination of low-quality oil and oil-pressurized timing chain tensors generated the failure.
No need to worry, guys like me can figure these things out.
The engine’s more susceptible parts will need special treatment to resist the new conditions generated by the chemistry introduced by the new fuel: Biogas. (Already in the works by yours truly.)
These widely used suggested solutions come from the industrial machinery world. The main disadvantage until not too long ago, was the high cost. But thanks to a patented process I’ve been researching, this could be done in a small workshop with non-hazardous compounds or technically complex chemical processes. And they are very likely to mitigate the damage rate on time.
From my perspective, there is absolutely no reason for people to be struggling, whether looking for a crust of bread or fist-fighting over a rationed propane tank smuggled by the mafias. It does not matter that countries are floating over oceans of hydrocarbons. No one is left to get the hydrocarbons out, and those running the facilities seem not to have a clue. Or maybe they know, but to increase the production (something not exactly the priority of the Mafia) needs tons of money that no one is going to invest.
The current mindset of many in Venezuela makes me wonder if we will ever be capable of getting ahead. Perhaps I would be doing as they are doing if I were there. However, I would prefer to use my free time to make more money and find ways to get around the whole scheme.
P.S. To you, my fellow readers. You have proven to be superb companions on this journey. It wouldn’t have been the same without you, your support and encouragement. Thanks for being there for kiddo and me. One day, he will read this and understand how much his papa loved him, and all the effort I made to give him the needed tools to survive.
Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151