How to Remove Carbon From Motorcycle Engines

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Several things can cause carbon to build up inside a motorcycle engine. The carbon can cause the engine to run poorly and pollute more. Riding slowly or riding short distances are a couple of the most common causes. Also, the quality of the gasoline used can make a difference. Fortunately, the carbon can be removed and kept at reasonable levels without disassembling the engine.

  • Tune-up the engine if it needs it. Poor tuning can cause carbon to build up.

  • Clean the engine inside by adding a detergent to the fuel. You can buy a detergent fuel additive at a motorcycle or automobile supply store.

  • Blow out the carbon. You need to get the bike up to about 65 to 70 mph for at least 20 miles. This allows the heat and combustion to burn off and blow out the carbon. This works well; it is known as an "Italian Tuneup," after the Ferrari's that needed to be "blown out" at high speed after puttering around town.

  • Use a good quality gasoline with adequate detergent. Once your engine has been cleaned out, using a good fuel should keep most bikes reasonably clean inside. As of March 2011 at least 26 gasoline brands were rated Top Tier. Use these or a similar quality fuel with enough detergent.

  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 as necessary. If you make a lot of slow, short runs you should probably repeat these steps occasionally, even if you are using Top Tier fuel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Detergent fuel additive is the same for cars and motorcycles, but be careful to put the correct amount in your gas tank. The bottle may say something like "Add contents to gas tank, then top it off with fuel." If these instructions are referring to an automobile, then adjust the amount for your smaller motorcycle tank.

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