Once upon a time any blow-by gasses produced by a vehicle’s engine were allowed to escape into the environment. As environmental restraints became more stringent, manufacturers fed those gasses back into the engine via the air intake.
That’s all well and good, but returning air containing oil and other impurities including water vapour into the air intake of the engine not only decreases the engine’s power and efficiency, it increases the carbon build-up in the inlet manifold and the EGR valve, corrodes turbo bearings and allows a layer of oil sludge to build-up in the intercooler, greatly decreasing its cooling ability.
That all adds up to not only a loss of power and performance, but increased fuel use, and it could lead to more expensive damage.
Some people propose that you blank off the EGR valve, but that is highly illegal and usually ends up costing you more in lost fuel efficiency. The way to stop that hassle and to maintain your engine’s performance is to fit an oil catch can.
As with everything you can get cheap, basic units that do a poor job, or something a little more expensive and complicated but a lot more efficient at removing those impurities from entering your engine.
The Flashlube Catch Can Pro from Terrain Tamer is a premium oil fume filter that filters out the damaging oil mist and condensation, helping your engine run like it was when it was new. The unit is made from a high-grade engineering polymer and glass-fibre compound so it is robust and can withstand the heat of an engine bay.
It is designed with 19mm inlet and outlet ports as well as pressure relief and vacuum relief valves to stop any over pressurisation of the engine and to maintain the efficiency of the motor.
The Flashlube Catch Can is fitted with a replaceable filter element, and these are reportedly much more efficient at collecting the oil fumes and condensate than stainless steel mesh filters. The Flashlube elements need replacing every 20,000km or so.
The unit comes with all the piping and brackets required and, while any handyman could fit this unit by following the instructions supplied, we had our unit fitted by the crew at Outback 4WD (www.outback4wd.com.au) in Bayswater.
The Catch Can will withstand a fair amount of heat, but it should not be mounted on the firewall, beside the turbo or exhaust manifold, or behind the radiator.
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We fitted ours close beside the radiator at the front of the engine bay where it has a chance of cool air flowing around it, while the drain pipe runs down to the outside of the chassis rail where the drain tap is located and can be easily accessed. Yep, you have to drain the oil caught by the catch can, which is normally around 5-15ml of oil every 1000km or so.
The Flashlube Catch Can Pro may be compact in size, but it is good enough for all 4WD engines on the Australian market, even those fitted with a performance chip, an aftermarket exhaust and/or larger snorkel. The unit can handle flow rates of 250L/minute.
You should really fit one of these as soon as possible to get the best possible result, but with 110,000km on the clock of my Land Cruiser it is still a very worthwhile thing to do. While it isn’t completely ‘fit and forget’, it’s so easy to drain any captured oil that it is as close to hassle-free as it can get.