® Marvel Mystery Oil

While we're a lot more subtle than we were in the 1930s and 1940s, we're demonstrably just as gullible.

While a technical consumer advocate at Honda corporate, I frequently received calls from folks with valve problems on their early DOHC four Hondas. Of course, the calls came in from all over the country, but a disproportunate number were from riders in Northern California. The valves were failing due to excessive carbon buildup, and It wasn't long before it became clear that the club racing scene in that area played a part. In almost every case, the motorcycle owner was using a fuel additive, usually an octane booster, and this was proven to be responsible for the dramatic increase in carbon in the combustion chamber.

Fast forward to today and I read in certain places the recommendation to use such things as Marvel Mystery Oil, as well as other fuel additives. Many folks are sold on this stuff, and amazingly, they really can't say why they use it. In fact, that is the most perplexing, and most consistent thing people say about it. And I find it very interesting that Wikipedia wastes no words, using the phrases "little evidence" and "unsubstantiated claims" in its description of the Marvel Mystery Oil product. Note especially the information about how many one-time industrial users have spoken out against it. If ever there was a snake oil, something made of incredibly stupendously basic and inert ingredients, in this case mineral oil and stoddard solvent, and about which amazing and unsubsantiable claims are made and such slavic, unreasonable and unthinking devotion is exhibited, Marvel Mystery Oil is it. Like bolt-on fuel mileage improvers, engine parts rebuilder in a can, and 1930s electromagnetic wonder "cures", this is the stuff of whimsy. The real "marvel" is anyone's belief in the stuff.

Mechanics I hope know better. They undestand that adding anything to fuel is unwise and even in the best cases, such as in the use of fuel stabilizers, must be done carefully. Many additives, particularly petroleum based ones, alter fuel's ability to burn properly, often resulting in detonation. Any first year tech school student knows this. Marvel Mystery Oil, being mostly baby oil, is nonetheless an oil, and putting it into your fuel is akin to having bad valve guide seals that steadily leak oil into the combustion chamber. For detonation and other reasons, this can't be good.

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