Gasoline Blends Used
In Older Cars
By Geoff Wheatley

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Geoff Wheatley

Geoff Wheatley, 2012

A few years ago I recall all the fuss that surrounded fact that non-leaded gasoline was going to ruin the engine of you beautiful classic car. I had friends and colleagues who stayed up half the night worrying about the future of their car and buying just about every magazine on the market to see what the experts were saying about the loss of lead in vehicle fuel. As we all know very few engines ever got destroyed by the change in fuel production and for those who needed a simple solution various products suddenly appeared on the market that would replace the lost benefits of leaded fuel. I am still not sure if they do but as I said classic cars are still being driven all over the country so something must be right or the experts of doom and gloom were wrong!

We now have another set of experts who are concerned about the use of Ethanol in modern fuel with suggestions that this may well represent the same threat that none leaded fuel presented when it was first introduced. From all the data that I have read and there is plenty around, the worst thing about the Ethanol Blended fuel is that its life in the gas tank of a car is limited. After about three months in a non-vented tank it may start to separate, this means that the ethanol separates from the gasoline. This may sound serious but remember that the amount of ethanol in any gallon of gasoline is 10percent or less so the effect is not that dramatic.

What may be is that this separation can cause water to be attracted into the fuel tank by the process of separation, usually in a vented tank, how much is still open to debate and what its effect might be is also unsure. With pure Gasoline, i.e. fuel that has not been supported by ethanol, water can still develop in fuel tanks over any given period of time as indicated by the rusty gas tanks that I have seen and replaced over the years. The answer to that problem is simple and not expensive. Remove the drain plug of your gas tank and drain off what ever is inside at least once a year, but make sure that the tank is down to its last cup full of fuel before you do this.

As and when I know that one or more of my cars will be under a dust sheet for a few weeks I invest in a bottle of fuel stabilizer, this increases the life span of the fuel. I have recently read that ethanol may damage aluminum; however I have yet to see any report that states this is correct. At worst it may cause some effect if more than 25 percent is used and as no fuel that I have ever seen or purchased has more that 10percent there seems to be no truth in this suggestion. There is one thing that I have learned over the many years that I have been involved with beautiful old cars, use the very best fuel you can buy. The additional octane with make sure the engine is running at its full capacity. One further tip that I have found useful, if possible find a location to fit an extra fuel filter in the feed line. Even with a modern filter some unpleasant stuff can get through and clog up the carburetors usually when you are on the road and its raining.

Apart from my cars I also have a boat and recall that a few years ago the boating publications were full of the threat to marine engines and fuel lines by the ethanol mixture. There may be some truth regarding rubber fuel connections although I have never encountered such things but just to make sure I replaced all the rubber lines with strengthen plastic lines and to date have not encountered any fuel problems. We survived the loss of leaded fuel and I am sure the same will apply to ethanol, so don't start losing sleep over the fate of your baby tucked away in the garage under a dust sheet, it will be ready for the open road when ever!
2012 Geoff Wheatley © Contributing Editor

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