Ethanol

 By Brandon Baldwin

You all know that Ethanol is in our everyday fuel.  Don’t  put  it in your collector car, or even your everyday driver if it is from before around 1995.  Indeed, it does lower emissions since it has oxygen in its formula  (as does all alcohol), especially upon start-up.  But, the drawback is that it is  also a  good  solvent.    That  means it cleans well, combines with other substances well too.  It also takes more of it to keep an engine from running too lean.  Therefore, your gas mileage will get worse with increasing amounts of alcohol in your fuel.  Ethanol is also hydroscopic, meaning it will  combine  with  water!    That  means  it  will  lead to condensation of water where ever it is! It will pull moisture right out of the air (and into your fuel then).  In fact, I’m working on a Jaguar right now that hasn’t run in a few years that had the ethanol fuel in it.  What came out of the fuel lines looks like Italian salad dressing!  As a result, only 1 of the 6 injectors opens, yet still won’t deliver combustible fuel!  In another vehicle I’m working on, I have to replace everything  the  ethanol  fuel has touched.  It has eroded all the aluminum, rubber hoses, and plastic.

What  can  you  do then?  If you have a modern vehicle,   this is  less  of  a  concern  because  they have components designed to operate with ethanol.  But, for our classic cars, ATVs, lawnmowers, boats, and snowmobiles, run NON-ETHANOL gas in it, and if you can, drain it at the end of the season.  (Then you can put the leftover in your daily driver, but not if it is more than a year old.)  What about dry-gas?  Dry gas is alcohol based, to combine with the water, then you burn it.  But if you are storing your car, dry gas will make the situation worse.  There are specific Sta-Bil solutions for specific applications, but make sure you run the vehicle so it spreads throughout the system.  I have seen it when taking a carb apart in this case, where the gas evaporated and only the Sta-Bil was left, but NO corrosion occurred.

Others have converted their cars to run on ethanol, but with expense of course.  We are lucky to have quite a few gas stations in the North Country with NON-ETHANON fuel, which is often the 91 octane.  Happy Driving to you!