Here's an article from March 4th/2015, Autoweek, on ethanol fuels today.
Jay Leno, Autoweek, March 4, 2015
we just get rid of ethanol?
have been a lot of old-car fires lately. I went through
the’70s,the ’80s and most of the ’90s without ever having read much
about car fires.
Suddenly, they are happening all over the place.
Here’s one reason: The
ethanolin modern gasoline—about 10 percent in many
states—is so corrosive, it eats
through either the fuel-pump diaphragm, old rubber
fuel lines or a
pot metal part, then leaks out on a hot engine … and
As someone who collects old cars, and keeps them up
religiously, I am now
replacing fuel-pressure regulators every 12 to 18
New cars are equipped with fuel lines that are resistant to ethanol
damage, but with
older cars, the worst can happen—you’re going down the
road, and suddenly your car is on fire.
There’s more. I find that gasoline, which used to last about a
year and a half or two years, is pretty much done after a month or so
these days. If I run a car from the teens or ’20s and fill it up with
modern fuel, then it sits for more than two months, I often can’t get it to
Ethanol will absorb water from ambient air. In a modern
vehicle,with a sealed fuel system, ethanol fuel has a harder time picking up water
from the air. But in a vintage car, the water content of fuel can rise, causing
corrosion and inhibiting combustion.
It gets worse. Ethanol is a solvent that can loosen the sludge,
varnish and dirt that accumulate in a fuel tank. That mixture can
clog fuel lines and block carburetor jets.
Blame the Renewable Fuel Standard. This government-mandated
rule requires certainamounts of ethanol and other biofuels be blended with
gasoline and diesel fuel. But when Congress first passed RFS as part of
the Energy Policy
Act in 2005, our demand for energy was increasing. Today,
it’s the opposite. Total demand for fuel has decreased thanks to more-efficient
vehicles, more hybrids and increased environmental awareness. The EPA
is set to release the 2015 standard in June. Meanwhile, some legislators are
pushing to reform or eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard entirely.
I just don’t see the need for ethanol. I understand
the theory—these giant agri-business companies can process corn, add the
resulting blend to gasoline and we’ll be using and importing less
gasoline. But they say this
diversion of the corn supply is negatively affecting
food prices, and the
ethanol-spiked gas we’re forced to buy is really awful.
The big growers of corn have sold us a bill of goods. Some
people are making a
lot of money because of ethanol. But as they divert
production from food to fuel, food prices inevitably will rise. Now, if you
don’t mind paying $10 for a tortilla ...
week, I went to start up one of my Duesenbergs. When I pulled out
of the spot where it had been parked for about a month, I saw
a huge pool of
gas. I looked at it while it was running and saw gas just
got to buy another fuel regulator.” I pulled it and opened it
up. The fiber diaphragm was eaten right through. Should
manufacturers make diaphragms for old cars out of modern materials like
Vitonor Teflon? Yes, they
should, but not all of them do. Consequently, your chances
of a fire remain.
Here’s another problem: When you have vehicles with fuel cells
in their gas tanks, ethanol tends to eat the coating out of the fuel cell.
If you have an old motorcycle and redo the fuel tank, the first thing you
do is seal the tank with some sealant. It’s generally a cream or a gray
color, and it looks like you painted the inside of the tank. On a lot of my bikes
now, I’ll open the gas tank and I’ll go in with a long set of tweezers. I’m
pulling out sheets of this
coating. Really, it comes out in 6-inch
The ethanol is just eating it up and clogging the fuel
pump because it’ll move around as a sheet of material and block the opening.
With cars like my McLaren F1, if I buy a 55-gallon drum of VP racing gas,
the fuel cell will last twice as long.
It’s time for us as automobile enthusiasts to dig in our
heels and start writing to our congressmen and senators about the Renewable
or we’ll be forced to use even more ethanol. Most people
assume, “Oh, that’ll never happen. They’ll never do that.” Remember
prohibition? In 1920, all the saloons were closed. It took until 1933 before legal
liquor came back.
Most people don’t really look at what goes into their
Obviously, the days of high-octane gas like Sunoco 260 are long gone. Those of
us with older vehicles are the ones who end up paying the price. The
car manufacturers don’t care. They don’t mind if your vintage car
burns up or breaks down.
They want to sell you a new one. It’s hard for
enthusiasts. We really have nowhere to go.
So write those letters, but I also suggest you drain and
clean your old car’s fuel tank, use a quality fuel-tank sealer that’s
impervious to ethanol, replace fuel filters, keep all the screens clear and
use a fuel stabilizer (added to a full fuel tank), if your car is to be
stored for the winter season.
Oh,and keep a fire extinguisher handy.