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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been doing some research on the carbon build up issues that some DI engines have, I have read a few threads and seen some P/M steps that can be taken to help. I didn't see any recent threads about it. Just wondering if anyone here has seen/heard of any problems with these engines.

So far mine is going great with 88k miles but I don't have any service history from 86k and below. Mine was a rental up to about 60 or 70 k miles according to carfax.
 

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Honestly, this has to be the biggest non-issue that I've ever seen. There were all kinds of "the sky is falling" stories about this "issue" when these Impalas first came out but I still have yet to see a single person reporting any drivability issues resulting from valve-coking in these 2012+ Impalas. There are TONS of these cars on the road with well over 100k miles now and I just haven't seen any common, widespread issues. I'm sure that there are some isolated incidents due to poor maintenance and lots of short-trips, but I wouldn't worry about it at all. Just change your oil frequently, use quality oil and quality gas and you'll be just fine.

Valve coking did seem to be a major issue on early VM and Audi direct-injected engines, but it just hasn't been an issue in the 2012+ Impalas for whatever reason (engine design, tuning differences, etc). Every single car manufacturer is using direct-injected engines now and none of them have catch-cans installed from the factory (at least for "common" vehicles - there may be some exotic sports car that has one).

So just keep up on your maintenance and enjoy your car - you'll be just fine. :)

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Honestly, this has to be the biggest non-issue that I've ever seen. There were all kinds of "the sky is falling" stories about this "issue" when these Impalas first came out but I still have yet to see a single person reporting any drivability issues resulting from valve-coking in these 2012+ Impalas. There are TONS of these cars on the road with well over 100k miles now and I just haven't seen any common, widespread issues. I'm sure that there are some isolated incidents due to poor maintenance and lots of short-trips, but I wouldn't worry about it at all. Just change your oil frequently, use quality oil and quality gas and you'll be just fine.

Valve coking did seem to be a major issue on early VM and Audi direct-injected engines, but it just hasn't been an issue in the 2012+ Impalas for whatever reason (engine design, tuning differences, etc). Every single car manufacturer is using direct-injected engines now and none of them have catch-cans installed from the factory (at least for "common" vehicles - there may be some exotic sports car that has one).

So just keep up on your maintenance and enjoy your car - you'll be just fine. :)

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Your comment sums up what I had already gathered from an older thread. I just wanted to ask to see if anything new might have surfaced. I have a bad habit of looking ahead in a car to see what I might need to plan for as far as major repairs may go. But so far I have been enjoying the hell of the impala compared to what I am used to driving (15 yr old 200k mile beaters)
 

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I think it depends on your engine. There's millions of these things, and there's bound to be many different realities.

Some of these engines are know to have some pretty high oil use, which GM claims is normal, but the oil loss can be from many different things.

If your engine has a lot of oil being drawn out of the PCV system and into the intake, then the problem will be more pronounced.

I'm going to pop my intake off and take a look myself when the weather is better; it's not that big of job to take a look.

I'd invite those who say there is no problem to show us how theirs looks, after 50 or 60K miles and no catch can.

Then I'll believe.

I've seen some ugly pics in searches on the issue; try doing your own searches for oil in the intake and air cleaner duct, oil use, with Direct Injection/3.6L GM, etc, and decide for yourself.

Check out the Malibu Forums for these issues with the 3.6L.

In the meantime, I: use a good oil, installed a good catch can, use only top tier gas, and frequently wind it up in several gears.

I do know this: the dealer says to let him spray B&G cleaner in to the intake, let it sit for 2 hours, and then run up the R's to blow out the crap, every 20K miles, for $150. Except now that abrasive crap is in your rings, it just doesn't magically go away.

I know something else: GM shortened the powertrain warranty from 100K to 60K.

Or, the less you know, the happier you'll be.
 

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I don't believe that the coking will lead to catastrophic failure but at the same time it really can't be good for the engine or the overall performance of your car. Having a catch can wont hurt. To me, it's cheap insurance just like changing your tranny fluid. The 6 speed transmission has a very low failure rate yet the general consensus is still that it's a good idea to change the fluid every year because it's such a cheap and easy thing to do.
GM doesn't put a catch can on their cars but they do offer a cleaning service of the effected parts.
 

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I don't want to go through this whole catch can debate again - been there, done that (a few times now). :) In the end, since I haven't seen ANY complaints about issues resulting from valve coking on these Impalas, I consider it a non-issue. If it really were a common, widespread issue on these Impalas, we'd see tons of complaints about it by now - and they're just not there. Pictures of "dirty" intake valves are meaningless to me - in the end, what *really* matters is how the can runs.

Not to mention some of the other "cons" of installing a catch can (regardless if you think they are needed or not). Here's a link to a somewhat-recent, rather heated "debate" about those topics. Interesting read. :)

http://www.impalaforums.com/showthread.php?t=1404745

Anyway, I've stated my opinions, both here and in other threads, so like I said, I'm not going to go down that rabbit hole again. :)

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This is a thread is about plug change in an LLT V6 in an earlier Traverse, but the GM Service Bulletin covers the LFX 3.6L, too, like we have.

The owner went on to manually clean the intake valves while it was apart, after he was alerted to the issue. Due to the overhang of the intake, it can be removed to access the plugs more easily.

The following quote is from another poster and is the service procedure for this issue.




"2011 Cadillac CTS | CTS VIN D Service Manual | Document ID: 2863222
#PIP5029 : Engine Misfires Due To Major Carbon Deposits On The Intake And/Or Exhaust Valves - (May 29, 2012)
Subject: Engine Misfires Due To Major Carbon Deposits On The Intake And/Or Exhaust Valves

Models: 2008 - 2012 Cadillac CTS, STS
2008 - 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt SS, HHR SS
2007 - 2010 Pontiac Solstice GXP
2007 - 2010 Saturn Sky Redline
2009 - 2012 Buick Enclave
2009 - 2012 Buick Lacrosse
2009 - 2012 Chevrolet Traverse
2009 - 2012 GMC Acadia
2009 Saturn Outlook
2010 - 2012 Cadillac SRX
2010 - 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox
2010 - 2012 GMC Terrain
With any of the Following Direct Injected Gasoline Engines:
2.0 (RPO LNF)
2.4L (RPO LAF, LEA, or LUK)
2.8L (RPO LAU)
3.0L (RPO LF1)
3.6L (RPO LFX or LLT)

The following diagnosis might be helpful if the vehicle exhibits the symptom(s) described in this PI.
Condition/Concern:

Some customers may complain of a MIL and engine misfire. In some cases, the misfire may be more apparent on a cold start, may count on a single cylinder or several cylinders, and may or may not be felt by the driver. Upon inspection, the technician will find one or more misfire codes (DTC P0300-P0306) stored in the ECM and SI diagnosis may or may not isolate the cause of the misfire depending on whether the intake/exhaust valves are sticking at the time of the diagnosis.

This may be the result of major carbon build up on the intake and/or exhaust valves as shown below so the misfires should not have appeared until the engine has accumulated around 5,000 miles or more.





.







Recommendation/Instructions:

If this concern is encountered, perform SI diagnosis. If SI diagnosis isolates a valve sealing concern and/or eliminates everything else external to the engine, decarbon the engine with Upper Engine and Fuel Injector Cleaner by following the guidelines below:

Important Extreme care must be taken not to hydrolock the engine when inducing the cleaner, especially if it is induced without Kent Moore Tool # J-35800-A. If too much cleaner is induced at too low of a RPM, or if you force the engine to stall by inducing too much cleaner at once, the engine may hydrolock and bend a connecting rod(s).
1. In a well-ventilated area with the engine at operating temperature, slowly/carefully induce a bottle of GM Upper Engine and Fuel Injection Cleaner into the engine with RPM off of idle enough to prevent it from stalling (typically around 2,000 RPM or so). Depending on the engine configuration, induce the cleaner through the throttle body or an engine vacuum hose/pipe. For best results, it is suggested to induce the cleaner with Kent Moore Tool # J-35800-A (shown below).
2. Turn the engine off after inducing the cleaner and allow the cleaner to soak with the engine off for 2.5 to 3 hours (Do not let cleaner soak for more than 3 hours as remaining deposits may start to harden back up again).
3. Add a bottle of GM Fuel System Treatment Plus to the fuel tank and fill the vehicle with one of the Top Tier gasolines listed at Home | Top Tier Gas and/or in the latest version of 04-06-04-047 (USA) or 05-06-04-022 (Canada). See Bulletin 05-00-89-078 for more details on GM Fuel System Treatment Plus.
4. Test drive the vehicle extensively to circulate the GM Fuel System Treatment Plus, which will help to eliminate/reduce any remaining intake valve deposits.
5. Re-evaluate the concern to determine if it is repaired or improved at all. If the concern is improved but not repaired, it may be necessary to perform the above decarboning process a 2nd time.



6. To complete the repairs, advise the customer to only use one of the Top Tier Gasolines listed at Home | Top Tier Gas and/or in the latest version of 04-06-04-047 (USA) or 05-06-04-022 (Canada) to minimize future deposits. It can also be recommended to add a bottle of GM Fuel System Treatment Plus at every oil change as mentioned in the latest version of 04-06-04-051.
Kent Moore Tool # J-35800-A
Upper Engine and Fuel Injector Cleaner"

I suspect that the fuel treatment recommendation is to regularly clean the piston/rings from separated deposits between chemical cleanings of the top end.

Pic of his intake valves:



He's a believer:


Manual valve cleaning here:



Chevy Traverse Forum: Spark plug replacement?


I do not want to do it the GM way, and will be cleaning mine manually.

The dealer told me they did it at 15K when they bought it from the Rental Fleet. They advise every 20K.

I plan to never let that happen again.

The vehicle report stated only one oil change between new and the 15K, at which time the dealer did it again to sell it.

Based on my research into deposits and timing chain stretch, I will be changing at roughly 5K from now on.



Complete thread:

http://www.traverseforum.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=12754be2c7c7a4bdda4a2de72fd173a4&topic=2656.0
 

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Again, none of this is specific to the Impala though. Just because it's the same base engine, doesn't mean that the Impala will experience the same issues (again, different engine tuning, different gearing (so RPM patterns will be different), different PCV setup, etc, etc). I'm betting that there are WAY more Impalas out there "in the wild" and I still haven't seen any issues with the Impala. Referencing articles from 2012 from different cars (and different engines, such as the LLT) is certainly not evidence that this problem exists with the Impala.

And besides all of that, again, if you are only changing the oil every 15k miles, then that is what I would consider poor maintenance. Proper maintenance is important!!

And I will also point out that he didn't seem to have any issues with the way the car ran - he just noticed how the intake valves *looked*, right? That's what I got from that thread based on a quick browse...

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Not trying to void my warranty over a can. Top tier gas and full synthetic oil every 5,000. I also use seafoam intake valve cleaner before every oil change. That is as far i would go. OP has 85k on his with no issues. GM will stop making the impalas also by 2018 i think, that's why they shortened the warranty. They will continue to honor prior years 100k miles powertrain warranty too.
 

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Regarding the warranty, you *could* remove the catch can before you take the car to the dealership (for whatever reason), but what about that one time where the wife is driving the car and it breaks down and needs towed to the dealership (or some other circumstance like that)... Just something to be aware of if you do install a catch can. Obviously, I don't feel it's necessary based on the track record of the Impalas. I'm sure it can and does cause problems in isolated incidents under certain rare circumstances, but I with a 100k mile warranty (on the 3.6L Impalas), if it doesn't cause a problem before 100k, then I'm not too concerned about it. If it does cause a problem before 100k, then I'll let GM deal with it. If I need to clean the valves at 175k (if I have the car that long, which is highly unlikely in my case), I'll get the blasted with walnut shells for a few hundred $$..

To each their own - this is just one mans opinions. :)

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Regarding the warranty, you *could* remove the catch can before you take the car to the dealership (for whatever reason), but what about that one time where the wife is driving the car and it breaks down and needs towed to the dealership (or some other circumstance like that)... Just something to be aware of if you do install a catch can. Obviously, I don't feel it's necessary based on the track record of the Impalas. I'm sure it can and does cause problems in isolated incidents under certain rare circumstances, but I with a 100k mile warranty (on the 3.6L Impalas), if it doesn't cause a problem before 100k, then I'm not too concerned about it. If it does cause a problem before 100k, then I'll let GM deal with it. If I need to clean the valves at 175k (if I have the car that long, which is highly unlikely in my case), I'll get the blasted with walnut shells for a few hundred $$..

To each their own - this is just one mans opinions. :)

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Exactly better have catch can removal kit in the trunk. ?
 

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It's probably not a huge problem. But any1 who cares about peak performance in there engine should clean the valves. Opened up mine about 50000km catch can on at 45k, little build up. It's obviously has a negitive effect imo. No data to back that up though, just personal.
 

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Honestly, this has to be the biggest non-issue that I've ever seen.
FWIW, I completely agree with you. I bought my 2013 LT with about 20K miles on it. Now at 60K miles it still runs as well as it did when I bought it and the MPG is still the same. I've rented MANY of these cars over the last few years, including a 2016 LT during Thanksgiving. My 2013 runs just as good if not better than the rental 2016 car, which had less than 10K miles on it.

I am using synthetic oil changing at 5K - 6K miles, and only use top tier fuel - usually Chevron or Shell (both popular in my area). No problems here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Not trying to void my warranty over a can. Top tier gas and full synthetic oil every 5,000. I also use seafoam intake valve cleaner before every oil change. That is as far i would go. OP has 85k on his with no issues. GM will stop making the impalas also by 2018 i think, that's why they shortened the warranty. They will continue to honor prior years 100k miles powertrain warranty too.

85k with no previous KNOWN issues. I will post back to this thread if my car ever has any issues related to this.


Thanks everyone for all of your input!!
 

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Every DI vehicle except Impalas?

A BMW forum.

I cleaned my valves, before and after pics!


A Camaro forum.

Had an upper induction cleaning done. Wow! - Camaro5 Chevy Camaro Forum / Camaro ZL1, SS and V6 Forums - Camaro5.com


It's not a problem if you don't bother to be informed.
Again, more stories/pictures of cars other than the Impala... Yes, the issue affects all DI engines - but not to the same extent. Certain brands/engines/cars experience the issue more severely than others. Based on my personal experience (with my 2012 Impala that I've had since it had19k miles) and the lack of complaints from other 3.6L Impala owners, I just don't see it being something that you need to worry about with the Impala if you maintain your car properly.

If this issue was a common, widespread issue with the Impala, why can we not find a single complaint about it anywhere? There are millions of the 3.6L Impalas on the road - we would be seeing *tons* of complaints about this issue if it substantially affected the way the car runs in any sort of widespread fashion.

I honestly believe that the harder a car is run, the more this will be an issue. If you think about it, more vacuum is created with more thottle - more vacuum means that there is a better chance of oil being sucked up and ingested through the air intake (and thereby landing on the intake valves). This is why I think you see more issues on cars like the Camaro - or boosted engines (which I believe is where the whole catch-can thing started). With the way that the Impala is tuned and the way that most people drive them, I think that also plays a part in the equation... Now this is just my opinion - I have no data to back this up.

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Exactly better have catch can removal kit in the trunk. ?
Why not?

It's not like I'm going to sell the car with the can.

I'll replace the altered parts, and I already have them.

Keeping them in a package with the necessary tools is pretty simple; a wrench and a screwdriver, and a trash bag to contain the can system.

I think what is far more risk is having done a tune on the full system and having to go the dealer in case you have engine related issues on warranty.

Are those who have done a tune carrying a laptop in the trunk?

There is far more risk of a tune carrying a negative result than having a catch can. None of know what may effect our cars and if we'll need to visit the deal with a drivibility problem or a more serious issue.

I see less than about 50 different people regularly logging on here, if you don't count the troll who posts Istream links to football games. That's hardly a sampling of the millions of these engines out there, most of posts are installing an infotainment system, a rear sway bar or LED's, yet how many have actually opened the intake and shot some pics to determine how widespread the issue is?

Will most notice a slight gradual decrease in gas mileage or performance?

I think it's the old man demographic of chevy's big car that is responsible for there being less mention of DI dirty valves than anything, and not there being any less of a problem for the model.

And no, GM didn't decrease the powertrain warranty across the entire line because they may kill the Impala model.

I've had 4 months since I bought the car to rethink extended oil changes, due to researching issues for the car, the chain stretch and dirty valve issues for this engine, and it's been a definite eye opener seeing and smelling what comes out of the catch can.

When I see and smell what's coming out of the can, I shake my head at the people who refuse to install one.

Still no pictures of anyone here having actually looked to see how bad the problem is though.

I'll post pics when the weather breaks, but I am running a can. I expect at least some crap on the valves, though, but my pics will not be indicative of what a car with no can would look like.

Let's see what 70K miles and no catch can looks like.
 

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I see less than about 50 different people regularly logging on here, if you don't count the troll who posts Istream links to football games. That's hardly a sampling of the millions of these engines out there, most of posts are installing an infotainment system, a rear sway bar or LED's, yet how many have actually opened the intake and shot some pics to determine how widespread the issue is?
Forget this forum - I haven't been able to find any complaints *anywhere*. Like you said, there are millions of these Impalas out there on the road - some even used as taxis and police cars - surely, if this was a common, widespread issue, there would be *tons* of complaints on the net...

Will most notice a slight gradual decrease in gas mileage or performance?
In my opinion, if the performance and gas mileage decrease is so minimal and so gradual that you cannot tell the difference, then is it really a problem at all? Let face it, the vast majority of car owners don't race their car and record 1/4 mile times or track the gas milage down to hundredths of a gallon. Assuming that there is a gradual decline in performance and/or gas mileage (which I'm sure there is - just like there is with ALL cars, even cars without DI engines), it's obviously so small that it's a complete non-issue for the vast majority of people.

I think it's the old man demographic of chevy's big car that is responsible for there being less mention of DI dirty valves than anything, and not there being any less of a problem for the model.
And why would that be? Probably because older folks aren't taking apart their engines for no reason in search of a "problem". So you're probably right - older folks just have more experience as to when to worry about something and when not to. :)

Still no pictures of anyone here having actually looked to see how bad the problem is though.

I'll post pics when the weather breaks, but I am running a can. I expect at least some crap on the valves, though, but my pics will not be indicative of what a car with no can would look like.

Let's see what 70K miles and no catch can looks like.
Why would anyone be looking for a "problem" when they have no reason to? I'm not so sure why anyone would take apart their engine to *look* for a problem when the car is running fine! Do you take apart your refrigerator from time to time to try and identify a "problem" even when it's operating normally? Do you take apart your furnace from time to time to try and identify a "problem" even when it's operating normally? Do you take apart *anything* that is operating normally just to look for problems? Of course you don't - you wait until there is at least some symptom of a problem before you would do any of that! If you are not having any issues and the car is running fine then it makes no sense to take things apart to try and find a problem that isn't, well, a problem! :) You run more risk of causing a problem during the disassembly and reassembly while looking for said "problem"!

I guess we should define what a "problem" really is. To me, a "problem" is when I'm having an issue with the way my car is running or behaving. If it's running and behaving well, then there is no "problem". There are all kinds of nasty things that happen in an engine (like, you know, thousands of explosions every minute!) - I don't expect the inside of my engine to be nice and clean - and really don't give a damn what it looks like in there as long as my car is running fine. For example, the inside of the exhaust system has some really nasty stuff - does it mean that there is a problem? Of course not!

We can go back and forth for weeks - but I think we've made our points, so I'll bow out of the conversation now (should have bowed out a long time ago). Feel free to have the "last word". :)

Oh - and by the way, Happy New Year!! No hard feelings - just a "spirited" debate. :)

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Why not?

It's not like I'm going to sell the car with the can.

I'll replace the altered parts, and I already have them.

Keeping them in a package with the necessary tools is pretty simple; a wrench and a screwdriver, and a trash bag to contain the can system.

I think what is far more risk is having done a tune on the full system and having to go the dealer in case you have engine related issues on warranty.

Are those who have done a tune carrying a laptop in the trunk?

There is far more risk of a tune carrying a negative result than having a catch can. None of know what may effect our cars and if we'll need to visit the deal with a drivibility problem or a more serious issue.

I see less than about 50 different people regularly logging on here, if you don't count the troll who posts Istream links to football games. That's hardly a sampling of the millions of these engines out there, most of posts are installing an infotainment system, a rear sway bar or LED's, yet how many have actually opened the intake and shot some pics to determine how widespread the issue is?

Will most notice a slight gradual decrease in gas mileage or performance?

I think it's the old man demographic of chevy's big car that is responsible for there being less mention of DI dirty valves than anything, and not there being any less of a problem for the model.

And no, GM didn't decrease the powertrain warranty across the entire line because they may kill the Impala model.

I've had 4 months since I bought the car to rethink extended oil changes, due to researching issues for the car, the chain stretch and dirty valve issues for this engine, and it's been a definite eye opener seeing and smelling what comes out of the catch can.

When I see and smell what's coming out of the can, I shake my head at the people who refuse to install one.

Still no pictures of anyone here having actually looked to see how bad the problem is though.

I'll post pics when the weather breaks, but I am running a can. I expect at least some crap on the valves, though, but my pics will not be indicative of what a car with no can would look like.

Let's see what 70K miles and no catch can looks like.
I took my intake tube off a few weeks ago and was not too happy with all of the oil I found in the tube and in/on the the throttle body. You can search my username to find it but I did not take pics of anything. I have only owned my car since November so I can't speak for the first 32,500 miles on it. However, I did find it disturbing to see any oil in the system at all. If a catch can will help alleviate this problem, then so be it. I believe it will because I have had a catch can installed on my 2004 GTO since 2006. They work and work well. The only issue I have with the catch can is the price. They are way overpriced for what they are. Many will argue what an engine install will cost. Then we can counter argue do we really need it because we don't know if we have something wrong. In my opinion, this is one of these issues that many won't know about until the damage is done. Most will balk at a $200 engine cleaning service the dealer offers, feeling like it is an unnecessary service. I will never get one because I can do it myself but how many others can? Using top tier fuels should not be an issue for anyone as long as the gas station/oil company is not lying about their top tier qualifications. I miss having a Sunoco station in town... one of the many sacrifices of moving from the east coast to the midwest. Anyway, in my opinion again, I don't like engine oil being able to get into the intake tract and do its long term damage. The LS1 in my GTO is not a direct injection engine but the havoc oil in the intake can play is just as bad. Again, I would have a can on my Impala right now if they weren't rediculously priced. I paid $100 for my GTO can back in 2006 from Elite Engineering. Now I get to spend $400 on one from several different sources. Of course I could attempt to make my own but that wouldn't go very well. So my plan is to get one by summer time. I will of course turn it into a project... I'll pull the intake manifold off and clean it, the throttle body and the intake tube. I will clean the valves off to the best of my ability and I will probably toss some spark plugs in it since I am right there. Then put it back together and install the can and be done with it. I am not going to worry about a warranty issue with it and here is why... The dealer would need to prove that the can was the cause of a catastrophic failure warranting engine repair or replacement under warranty. One crack of the drain valve showing the oil that could have gone into the intake should be enough to make them think twice. My Pontiac dealer had no issue with the can on my GTO, back in 2006. I agree that good maintenance and using good gas will go a long way in engine longevity but I feel the catch can only help and not hinder anything. For me the cost of one just pisses me off. I can almost guarantee that if catch cans were cheaper more people would have them. They don't add power, they don't look that good, but they do help make a difference.

edit - As far as tuning goes, if you are using a hand held to tune, it would be as simple as reloading the stock tune before going in for service. I had my GTO dyno tuned and the one time I went in for warranty work after headers and dyno tuning, I told my service advisor not to reflash the computer if it wasn't necessary. He smiled and said yeah we noticed the headers on it and figured as much. Not all service departments get it, but the ones I have dealt with were cool about stuff. Maybe the fact that I don't beat the shit out of my car has something to do with it too...
 
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