How bad does the playa eat up your car engine?

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How bad does the playa eat up your car engine?

Postby fountainpen6 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:39 pm

I went to U-Haul this morning to talk to them about renting a vehicle. I gave them the dates and they quickly asked (with a furrowed brow), "Are you going to Burning Man?" Since I am a 49-year-old very innocent looking woman, I acted shocked and said, "What? Why would you ask that?" They proceeded to unload about how much is messes with the vehicle's engines and gums things up. I am thinking of using my own vehicle this year instead and wondering others' experiences with performance once back home. I have a 1999 Toyota Landcruiser. Your experiences? I will be pulling a trailer with my mutant vehicle.
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Postby TomServo » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:49 pm

They ask the same question any RV rental company would ask.. Im surprised its gotten this far. If you have a Landcruiser, bring that! But, get an extra air filter. My Nissan Frontier has made a couple trips to the playa with no problem...except for the air filter. An oil change wouldnt hurt after.
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Postby Kinetik V » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:19 pm

The U-Haul people don't want to clean up the mess the playa dust causes to the interior of their trucks. It's a bitch to clean up. But as for engines...I've never, EVER had any issues with my vehicles post-BM. Change the air filter, do an oil change when you get home, that's it. I've taken F-150's, Ranger pickups, and a Nissan X-Terra that was my pride and joy and again have NEVER had one bit of trouble because of the playa.

In short.....NOT AN ISSUE.
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Postby ygmir » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:26 pm

yeah, most engines are pretty well sealed..........air cleaner, maybe and oil change............it is nice to wash it off, in general, because of the caustic nature of the dust, but, if it's oily enough, even that is not much of an effect.

I agree, it's more about cleaning the interior.
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Postby Dr. Pyro » Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:17 pm

Fountainpenalice, JR always rents a U Haul from Sacramento with no problems. Why not contact him and see how he does it? I mean, why else be a Barbiebarian if you can't get help from your campmates?
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Postby phil » Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:34 pm

I know people who take their own vehicles to the playa (including me), and I've never heard anyone mention have any problems caused by having their vehicle there. I'm sure the alkali takes its toll, but it's not going to be in a year. I have the van washed (including undercarriage), and I've had the engine steam cleaned a couple of times. My concern is having hoses, belts, and other rubber stuff rot from the alkali, but nothing's happened yet. I've forgotten whether we've had the van out three years or more.

You'll get used to having the playa powder smell blow out of the A/C after awhile. :->
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Postby Sic Pup » Sun Mar 27, 2011 4:43 pm

phil wrote:You'll get used to having the playa powder smell blow out of the A/C after awhile. :->


The only tangible impact I see is the periodic "weeping" of dust from the crevices of the side mirrors and door handles on my black vehicle. It usually takes 5-6 weeks after a washing for it to reappear.

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Postby CornStar » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:07 pm

My buddy drove his mazda protege hatchback in '08. He wasn't smart about staying out of the car during the burn, and the interior got caked in playa. His CD player hardly works anymore. He claims its because of playa but we've never bothered to ask a mechanic. I'm in the same boat as you are, this will be my first year driving a non-rental and I'm trying to be overcautious about it.
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Postby fountainpen6 » Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:14 pm

Hey everybody, thanks for the input. I've decided to go for it! Advice well taken: new air filter, oil change, leave the doors and windows shut (duh on that one!) See you in 5 months!!! P.S. Thanks Doc...are you following all of my posts or are you magical?? LOL.
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Postby phil » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:14 pm

I haven't seen anyone mention bluetaping over your air inlets on the car. We use blue painter's tape to cover over the external inlet on the van. This helps cut down on the amount of playa in the cab when we start the engine.
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Postby Bluemandrew » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:40 pm

We just use wd40 to spray down the engine compartment when all is said and done. Cleans it up nice. But a gallon container and a squirt bottle instead of a spray bottle, cause' you'll use a lot.
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Postby C187 » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:41 am

Like others have said, a new air-filter and a oil change and your set. In my case after the burn I generally stop at the first rest stop on 80 or in Lovelock and beat the crap out of my air-filter. Then pick a new one up in SLC and put it in. Generally I don't worry about washing, cleaning out, or oil change until after I get back to the lakes.

One year at a rest stop in Nebraska a business woman struck up a conversation with me because she could tell my car was just on the playa. So not going for a car wash right away has some benefits. :)

End the end, if your really worried about it. Schedule a tuneup and flush for after you get back.
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Postby ygmir » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:35 am

another good thing I've found, is to put a lawn sprinkler under your rig when you get home, and move it from time to time.
it'll clean out a lot of the dust and gunk that washing misses, and, tend to clean areas not protected by paint, which are more susceptible to corrosion. It's amazing to see all the mud that comes out from underneath.
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Postby ibdave » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:04 pm

ygmir wrote:another good thing I've found, is to put a lawn sprinkler under your rig when you get home, and move it from time to time.
it'll clean out a lot of the dust and gunk that washing misses, and, tend to clean areas not protected by paint, which are more susceptible to corrosion. It's amazing to see all the mud that comes out from underneath.


Been doing the same for the 12 yrs my RV has been on the Playa..

I have NEVER EVER changed a engine/air filter until I go back home and did the normal clean up of all camp gear.. All this noise about changing filter's when you leave, cause's dumb-ass people to change right after pulling out onto the road home blocking and being a danger to others.. :roll: :shock: :roll:
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Postby penguin » Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:45 pm

I live in the desert year round and get dust year round (no, not playa dust, but dust all the same) and have never changed the air filter nor the oil out of sequence (every 6K miles) even after the last two years to the playa and back (about 2500 miles RT).

Just because you don't drive in a certain condition daily doesn't mean your vehicle isn't designed for those conditions.
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Postby socks » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:14 pm

Have no fear at all about the playa dust on your car.The first fact is your car will get dusty,very dusty.Its part of going to Burning man,be one with the dust.As soon as you get there limit the amount of time you enter your car.That alone will keep it cleaner.The cars engine will have no problems with the the dust but as others have said change your oil and air filter when you get home.When you leave Burning man you will see signs for the local school car wash.They do a great job and it goes to the local schools.Warning about the playa dust it has hooks.It will work it way into your mind,heart and soul if you let it.
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Postby much2naughty2 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:19 pm

We drove our 2004 chevy Tahoe last year, and pulled our trailer. We didn't clean up or change filters (engine and cab) until we got home. I washed the Tahoe for hours and no matter what we did, gray dust/mud leaked out from every crevice for months when it rained. Everytime we turned on the AC or defrosters we got a wiff of playa dust and a smile swept over our faces.

Wear your dust as a badge of honor.
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Postby falcon451 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:40 pm

Also remember, once you park your engine need not run for the entire week for the most part, so you're not actively sucking in dust into it.
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Postby Mojojita » Thu Apr 14, 2011 12:19 pm

Engine is no problem but be sure to protect your interior from the sun - gets so hot things can and sometimes do melt. We use blue painter's tape ('cause duct tape melts in the heat and leaves a horrible mess) to tape mylar or alum foil over the windows. I saw one of the trailers out at the work ranch with the plastic tail lights melted from long term exposure.
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Postby some seeing eye » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:25 pm

Good discussion. Make a plan for sitting in a queue for hours, incoming and outgoing, where the norm is sucking in playa dust - which future renters will find odd. Avoid some of that by coming early or leaving early.
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Postby gyre » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:40 pm

Mojojita wrote:Engine is no problem but be sure to protect your interior from the sun - gets so hot things can and sometimes do melt. We use blue painter's tape ('cause duct tape melts in the heat and leaves a horrible mess) to tape mylar or alum foil over the windows. I saw one of the trailers out at the work ranch with the plastic tail lights melted from long term exposure.

I couldn't get blue tape to stick.
Did I get a bad roll?

The usual reason for tail lights melting is so called longlife bulbs.
Avoid these.
All the ones I've looked up are intensely inefficient and run very hot, around 40 watts.
Any high voltage or a long time with the brake lights on will overheat smaller lenses.
When you have a choice, use the european bulbs, especially when not chinese.
They are the best balance of efficiency and long life.
Typically around 20 watts and brighter than "longlife" bulbs.

HID lights in saudi areas have overheated from being heated by the sun and turning on too soon to cool off in the evening.
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Postby teardropper » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:21 pm

Until something major breaks, of mine, I say it's not a problem.
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Postby Sic Pup » Fri Apr 15, 2011 3:51 am

gyre wrote:I couldn't get blue tape to stick.
Did I get a bad roll?


+1

I was going to ask the same thing, if I recall correctly it stuck to the Reflectex fine but not the car interior.

Hmmm, I don't think I tried it directly on glass, maybe I should've cut the Reflectex shorter than the windows to allow the tape to adhere to the glass?

Or maybe it's the composition of the interior panels? (I drive a VW Jetta)
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Postby ygmir » Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:26 am

Sic Pup wrote:
gyre wrote:I couldn't get blue tape to stick.
Did I get a bad roll?


+1

I was going to ask the same thing, if I recall correctly it stuck to the Reflectex fine but not the car interior.

Hmmm, I don't think I tried it directly on glass, maybe I should've cut the Reflectex shorter than the windows to allow the tape to adhere to the glass?

Or maybe it's the composition of the interior panels? (I drive a VW Jetta)


you have to make sure the surface is very clean......and, on interior, especially if you use "Armorall", it can be too greasy.
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Postby dcweas » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:58 am

I agree with oil change/air filter change - but as another poster said, not until you get home, or at least a couple of hundred miles away :)

Also, this year I am considering putting a tarp over the front grill of my car. About 5 miles off the playa last year, my check engine light came on, and stayed on until I changed the air filter. I think it was because the wind blew so much dust in there.

I still have dust inside my gas cap area - I haven't cleaned it out, because it makes me smile to see it.
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Postby pinemom » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:30 am

heheheeee,

Then when you become totally playa worthy, you'll care less about the dust.
Sounds horrible but I havent cleaned out my Jimmy since it went to the playa in 2008 and 2009. It didnt have to go last year. But in 08 the back window didnt work and hehehee I left it down all 2 weeks...ya we all know what happened in 08....then hahahaaa I left the damn drivers window down when I parked on playa, never looked back for 14 days...hehehee Again another layer has been added.
I guess had I been able to get it really clean back when I was a 2 yr birgin, i might have tried harder to clean it out. But you know, its a convertible...all I really have to do is take the top off and go to LemmonValley Playa and do some brodey's!!!


Change air filter when you get into your home driveway. Change them if your driving more then 1200 miles to get home, but not until you reach a gas station so your not still sucking everyones dust off 447 up.


We did find that sometimes the alkali dust can get into your rear lights(back up/blinker/brake). It can sometimes short out your fuse's everytime you try to put a new one in....that requires cleaning out the contact grease and starting over with fresh grease.
(This is on a truck that has been 8 years to the playa.)
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Postby Sic Pup » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:17 am

ygmir wrote:
Sic Pup wrote:
gyre wrote:I couldn't get blue tape to stick.
Did I get a bad roll?


Or maybe it's the composition of the interior panels? (I drive a VW Jetta)


you have to make sure the surface is very clean......and, on interior, especially if you use "Armorall", it can be too greasy.


I just looked and my problem is the vehicle roof and the horizontal roof supports are all clad in a tightly woven fabric. I tried to cut the material to fit snuggly so tape would function only as a backup but I didn't have the time/patience/skill to get it right. I think I'll just try to cut it 1/2-a- tapes width short and see if I can get contact with glass when the time comes.
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Postby moonrise » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:00 pm

I tapped the dust out of my air filter when I got home.

When I had my next regularly shceduled oil change done; a Reno lube, oil & filter change place noticed I had gone to BM...one of the guys is a burner and he told me to power wash the inside engine compartment at the do-it-yourself car wash. I did that.

He also said don't waste $ on the under-the-car wash.
This year, I think I'll do the lawn sprinkler method Ygmir mentioned.
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Postby geospyder » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:14 pm

phil wrote:I haven't seen anyone mention bluetaping over your air inlets on the car. We use blue painter's tape to cover over the external inlet on the van. This helps cut down on the amount of playa in the cab when we start the engine.


Blue tape and a cut down furnace filter worked great for the Jeep.

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Postby burner von braun » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:14 am

Before my first burn, I think my biggest concern was for my truck, everything else seemed resolved to a good comfort level (after working and prepping mostly using info here). What's been said already is great advice. While it is a harsh environment, as someone said last year, it ain't the moon. Your vehicle will likely do just fine, with the attention that has been suggested. You might consider giving the exterior a wax job before you go. I spent a couple hours cleaning the engine by hand when I got back, daunting at first, but actually it went pretty quickly. It will be dusty, but it'll do fine.

..and that bit about smelling a faint whiff of Playa dust when you turn on the air from then on, it's true.

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