28 February 2013

Ethanol in Gas

Ethanol: Demonic or divine?

 Ethanol At the Pump

In folklore, whenever something mysterious happens it’s blamed on a witch, fairy, or even Bigfoot. In the collector car world, ethanol is often the accused — being denounced for everything from poor drivability to corroding fuel tanks, blocked fuel lines and leaking carburetors. In 2007, Hagerty decided to see if ethanol was truly the arch villain that rendered old cars fuel-leaking garage ornaments. The company partnered with Kettering University’s Advanced Engine Research Laboratory to develop the first test that closely duplicated a collector vehicle’s use cycle, with the goal of finding out exactly how these fuel systems were affected by long-term exposure to low ethanol–blended gasoline. The initial findings might surprise you.

Safe at the pump?

 Ethanol At the Pump

Carburetors didn’t turn to dust. Fuel pumps didn’t grind to a halt. Gaskets and seals didn’t melt into mushy goo. After 1,500 hours of testing six different automobile fuel systems on both E0 *straight gasoline) and E10 *gasoline with 10 percent ethanol) at Kettering University, disaster didn’t reign. When discussing the results of the Hagerty-funded research, Kettering professor Dr. Greg Davis remarked, “we can find no evidence that there is any significant danger to the health of the f7uel system components associated with E10.”

42 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Don Skinner Hayden,Al. March 6, 2013 at 22:27
    I went thru 3 carbs before I had to go with a fuel injected engine on my 41 Ford due to ethanol.
  • 2
    Bryan Horstman Seattle, WA March 8, 2013 at 13:14
    I agree with Mr. Karolick. I have seen aluminum carburetor float needles corrode from the alcohol to the point they stick in their bore. I think we need a second opinion.
  • 3
    Ron Karolick Maryland March 8, 2013 at 08:31
    My chain saws, leaf blowers and lawn edgers have their gas lines inside the gas tank disolve unless I dump out the gas after every use. My craftsman chain saw gas cap swells so much that have to use pliers to get it off. I guess the person doing the study decided what he wanted to prove before he did the test. The gas line on my GTO disolved and needed replacement. It turned to goo, it didn't get hard and crach like you would expect from old age. There has been too much proof of the damage to believe this faulty study.
  • 4
    Richard Mitchell moss Landing,ca March 10, 2013 at 13:17
    E10 maybe iffy, but now the EPA is pushing E15
  • 5
    johnny gladewater,tx March 12, 2013 at 19:44
    i think there is more to the e10 than people here.
  • 6
    Tom Wilkerson NC March 13, 2013 at 20:18
    I have multiple pieces of power equipment, a motorcycle, 69 Corvette and a Ranchero that have severely suffered using E10. I agree with Ron and Bryan that the results of his study were pre determined. Since I switched to E0 I no longer have the problems.
  • 7
    Frank Fambrough Punta Gorda FL March 20, 2013 at 21:33
    I have to agree with the gentlemen that the E10 fuel is awful. I have outboard engines and if you let them sit for as little as 2 weeks there is a good chance you will have to go into the fuel system to clean the carbs of varness that was striped from the fuel tank or ditereated fuel lines. Most people in south Florida use non ethanol fuel in the marine applications and in our antique auto because they sit so much. I don't think your people took in to consideration the setting factor of some of the antique autos and other engines that sit out of use for a long period of time.
  • 8
    Eric Maas San Francisco March 21, 2013 at 19:21
    Modern fuels have destroyed my original 1964 BSA Hornet fiber glass tank, along with one of my spare (thankfully my spare) Rickman Metisse gas tanks. For vintage motorcycle folks modern fuels can destroy your gas tanks and lines as well as eat up gaskets in carburetors quicker. I have started the process of having an aluminum tank fabricated for both bikes, at considerable expense. Draining your tank every time you run your bike is not enough the fuel just eats these things apart.
  • 9
    Rick teufel East Meadow NY March 27, 2013 at 18:34
    had replaced my old fuel tank in my 62 Merc Meteor with a fiberglas tank for a Thunderbolt Fairlane (same tank) as no steel replacements were available. All was fine for a couple of years until Ethonal was added to the fuel. The US Coast Guard had published a notice in reference to Ethonal and Fiberglass Fuel tanks ststing that ethonal breaksdown the resins in the fiberglass. Low and behold the tank started to leak around the seams. within 2 hours of noticing a drip on the garage floor the tank seperated and dumped 10 Gallons of gasoline.
  • 10
    Bill Brattain Florida March 27, 2013 at 20:42
    I agree with the other comments about the bad things E-10 gas does, so I switched to non-ethanol ( we call it "marine" gas here in Florida) in my 1973 VW Beetle. A bonus to the switch over was that the old VW runs like it was new. Runs smoother and with more pep than ever before, (if you can say a 46 hp VW has "pep").
  • 11
    Gerry Lyons Central Florida March 27, 2013 at 20:53
    E-10 is MANDATORY here in Florida since a law was passed in haste by the Florida state legislature a couple of years ago to enrichen the giant sugar lobby. I have "Shihl" brand lawn tools, a blower and edger, which had their carburetor diaphragms stiffened by E10, and made useless. Now replaced, those tools need $5.00 a quart special premixed fuel to even start and run. This is good for us? My collector Harley-Davidson, over 75 years old, suddenly needs Premium-grade E10-diluted gasoline (and I use the term lightly!) to perform even minimally. I agree that the pablum stated as "results" above is only propaganda, with not even a whisper of truth.
  • 12
    Dangerous Dave wa State March 27, 2013 at 10:53
    Ethanol has been to blame for 2 carb rebuilds and 2 heads being done one head in less then 2 years of use. leave the corn in the fields for the birds. Ethanol S__ks...
  • 13
    Troy S. Alabama April 3, 2013 at 23:26
    My 78 Porsche 911 SC hates ethanol! I am fortunate enough to live by several bodies of water and have ready access to non-ethanol fuel and I can tell a difference in the way the car runs, idles and drives with non-ethanol fuel.
  • 14
    Dennis Cirucci Broomall, PA April 11, 2013 at 13:42
    I own a 1995 Harley, 1967 Mustang GT, a 2005 T-Bird as my collector cars. They sit quite a bit and I do not care about gas mileage only preservation. I can not complain about the ethanol directly, (no leaks perhaps a little hard starting in the Harley). But I do take care to I drive them every few months and I make sure to run the tank down and refill with winter fuel in the Northeast which supposedly does not contain Ethanol. But I can say with some certainty that my 2012 Pathfinder, 2011 Audi A8 and 2011 Murano all suffer noticeable decreases in gas mileage when summer rolls around and the Northeast changes to the ethanol blend. . In fact I get a minimum 10% decrease in mileage and though the E10 really means 10% less mileage.
  • 15
    Keith A Pacific Northwest April 12, 2013 at 00:37
    I own a shop and have found a few things that are consistent since the advent of E10. Older rubber fuel lines have become very brittle over the last few years, much more than in the past 40 years. The other thing we are finding is that the bottom of fuel tanks are rusting out. We find many stored vehicles have water in the bottom of the tanks. We are also having plastic fuel floats fail at an alarming rate. Running changes are easily rectified with a retune. Vapor lock in the summer months seems to have gotten a lot worse.
  • 16
    Neal Keith Katy Tx April 17, 2013 at 18:17
    My 1963 Mercedes Benz 230 SL sat for three months, when I tried to start fuel was pouring out from three places. Your test was faulty.
  • 17
    Dan Dixon Suffolk, va. April 19, 2013 at 15:17
    Had an older Corvette repaired due to ethanol fuel. The bill was over $1000. My small engine repair shop advised me NOT to use ethanol fuel as it would damage components in toe fuel system of these engines. I had just replaced 3 carburetor a on different small engines. Thank goodness there is a non-ethnol gas station about 5 miles from my house.
  • 18
    Roger Dale,y Reno nv April 22, 2013 at 16:00
    My 29 ford highboy had bad results, it's a 51 flat head, ethanol ate the bladder in the gas tank and reuined the fuel pump, very expensive. overnight every station in Reno Sparks and Carson were gone, no warning, there's one place you can get racing fuel for 8.50. My mechanic, restored all of Harrahs collection for 36 years, so I think he is qualified to say that ethanol will harm most older model cars. I remember when unleaded came out you still could get leaded for quite a while, but ethanol was forced on us, it damn sure hasn't made the price go down, so what's the purpose ?
  • 19
    JON SCHOENFELD SEATTLE April 28, 2013 at 18:46
    When they started with ethanol I had to rebuild my carb. and fuel pump on my 1937 Cad Fleetwood. I now ether have to use a boster additive and mid range fuel or it will ping at low speed acceleration. It will normally accellerate up most mountain roads in third gear if I keep it over 30, othewise it pings. I think ethanol is a rip off. The only reason its pushed by the polititions is get the farm vote. I had the same mechanic when I had the car in Reno as Rodge Dale. He was the best?
  • 20
    Rick Birmingham, Ala May 6, 2013 at 17:25
    Ethanol is a crock. Its effects can cause minor inconveniences, or set up the circumstances that can burn up an entire car! I know of 2 classics that have caught fire from ethanol caused events. It hardens rubber and other soft parts as well as corroding metal and loosening otherwise innocuous build ups. At the least, power valves loose their calibrations toward RICHER mixtures...isnt this antithetical to the environment? How much extra fuel has been used due to this one scenario! Not to mention what rich mixtures do to engines. Floats also die prematurely...this can hurt a car, or burn it up as well. As stated, fuel hoses harden and that loosens them from their fittings at the very least. Or they just outright crack open...all fodder for a fire, or maybe just a stall on a 3-4 lane interstate! If e10 is ok, why are there now ethanol rated hoses? Why is it not used in marine apps, why do the small engine community know its certain trouble...why are manufacturers fighting e15....see, there's no argument! Even Al Gore admitted that it is a crock, and he voted for it only for political reasons....a true Dumocrat! And mpg/power....every sane person knows its garbage. Part of its attraction is that it pollutes more to make it, so that empowers/perpetuates the EPA. How an insurance company could stand behind this biased or otherwise flawed study is amazing....its flat dangerous to leak gas or cause a car to stall in todays traffic. Ethanol IS causing these 2 things to happen!
  • 21
    Rick Birmingham, Ala May 6, 2013 at 17:26
    Ethanol is a crock. Its effects can cause minor inconveniences, or set up the circumstances that can burn up an entire car! I know of 2 classics that have caught fire from ethanol caused events. It hardens rubber and other soft parts as well as corroding metal and loosening otherwise innocuous build ups. At the least, power valves loose their calibrations toward RICHER mixtures...isnt this antithetical to the environment? How much extra fuel has been used due to this one scenario! Not to mention what rich mixtures do to engines. Floats also die prematurely...this can hurt a car, or burn it up as well. As stated, fuel hoses harden and that loosens them from their fittings at the very least. Or they just outright crack open...all fodder for a fire, or maybe just a stall on a 3-4 lane interstate! If e10 is ok, why are there now ethanol rated hoses? Why is it not used in marine apps, why do the small engine community know its certain trouble...why are manufacturers fighting e15....see, there's no argument! Even Al Gore admitted that it is a crock, and he voted for it only for political reasons....a true Dumocrat! And mpg/power....every sane person knows its garbage. Part of its attraction is that it pollutes more to make it, so that empowers/perpetuates the EPA. How an insurance company could stand behind this biased or otherwise flawed study is amazing....its flat dangerous to leak gas or cause a car to stall in todays traffic. Ethanol IS causing these 2 things to happen!
  • 22
    Tom B Hawaii May 8, 2013 at 17:35
    I was told that ethanol would destroy the RUBBER gaskets in my '64 VW bug by two VW mechanics. Worse than using it would be storing your vehicle with it in the gas tank.
  • 23
    Don Ontario May 11, 2013 at 14:34
    If Kettering says there is no problem with ethanol E10 then why did the US and Canada ban the use of fuels with ethanol in certified aircraft?
  • 24
    Dan Gould Pembroke, Maine May 14, 2013 at 14:31
    I own a 2007 Dodge Ram Pickup that I primarily purchased new to have a reliable plow truck for my driveway. I don't use the truck that much and it could sit idle for weeks at a time. Over the past three or four years I have some real problems. I have tried just about everything. About 10 minutes into plowing my driveway the engine will just quit! Once this happens it is very difficult to start and the engine cannot run over 2500 RPM's. Even traveling down the highway, abot tem minutes into the trip the engine will loose power and die right there on the highway. Again, I can get it started with difficulty and again can't rev the engine more than 2500 RPM's. I am sure the problem is due to ethanol and I don't know what I can do to correct the problem. I think ethanol should be banned from gasoline all together.
  • 25
    George Washington Eastwood Greensboro, NC May 17, 2013 at 23:12
    ethanol ruined the carb in my Sthil trimmer that was only a year old. The shop that installed the new carb gave me some Star Tron additive. Use it in everything now,cars included. STA-BIL also has one. Push Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuels Standard passed in 2007. http://www.generalaviationnews.com/2013/04/ethanol-repeal-efforts-make-progress/ & this helpful - Pure-Gas.org
  • 26
    Rick durham nc May 24, 2013 at 02:22
    I have not experienced any of the troubles listed on thi site. Has not caused any problems and I have been using it since it came out.
  • 27
    4-Wheel Alabama June 3, 2013 at 09:17
    I've been cautioned the following: Ethanol is vegetable alcohol. It burns hotter than gasoline (dragster engines "blow up" using alcohol) damaging engine parts not designed to run on alcohol. If left in the fuel system for a prolonged time (winter), ethanol absorbs water from humidity and the water rich boundary area becomes a breeding ground for microscopic animal and plant life that turns to a sludge (yes, microscopic animal/plant life can grow in fuel). Some tool rental businesses caution against using fuel with ethanol in their engines. Conversely, I've also been told that the harmful effects of ethanol can be reduced if (1) your engine is specifically designed to be ethanol tolerant and (2) you burn up and refill your tank very frequently reducing the chances of anima/plant growth in water rich sludge.
  • 28
    Brian Mc Cullough Forest Lake, MN June 13, 2013 at 23:10
    I own a shop that repairs classic British cars. We see plenty of little issues with the fuel and I refuse to run it in our classics and my personal small engines. When Minnesota first took on 10% Ethanol, a small engine repair shop we visited had a wall full of engines with many of them having seized pistons. It ran the engines too lean/hot. It is not a good product. For those of you who want to have an E85 car, actually do the math and check out what the car gets on E85 vs. E10. Even with the government paying the difference in fuel price at the pump, it will cost more to run the E85 even if your car never has a running issue with it!
  • 29
    Jay Fitzhugh Finksburg MD July 13, 2013 at 10:32
    I am calling BS on this test. I have multiple classic cars that do not drive continously. Litterally, the back secondary butterflies and the connecting fuel tube clogged and siezed on a 715 Shelby Holley Carb. It is being rebuilt this weekend so that we do not blow up the motor opening up the secondaries and having the thing lean out. My 97 Strombergs on a flathead sat for 3 months and had to be cleaned to run. Every vintage car that I own required carb maintenance or rebuilding within the last year. Even my brand new 2011 snowblower carb needle sticks two years in a row, and the bowl gasket became hard and brittle, requiring replacement. Where are you finding Ethanol (0) gas. As far as I can tell, it is not available at the pump in Maryland. Thanks.
  • 30
    John A Stephens Ocala Florida September 5, 2013 at 08:52
    What a crappy unscientific test coming form a university. 1500 hours/ 62 days. Try letting it in a fuel tank in the garage for a year then you will see the problem, you bleeping moron.
  • 31
    Andy Motorbike Maryland September 22, 2013 at 16:44
    pure crap ... the study... ethanol draws and holds onto MOISTURE / WATER in the tank and fuel system...and causes corrosion on any parts it clings too. FACT ... MANY SMALL ENGINES like chain saws have internal parts made from metal that corrodes and rusts and makes em go BOOM NO GOO ... dead. Take a paper towel soaked in alcohol and wipe off the windshield wiper blades ... TELL ME WHAT THE BLACK STUFF IS ON THE PAPER TOWEL ??? rubber... dead rubber that is removed by the alcohol /ethanol . GAS SALES have DROPPED by billions of gallons in last 6 years and they have increased the ethanol from 4 percent too now TEN PERCENT and want more... why. SO WE ARE FORCED TO USE MORE FUEL to get the same mileage as UNBLENDED FUEL ... and they make their TAX REVENUE. THE STUDY DONE WAS FLAWED AND WAS SET TO PROVE THE STANCE OF THE AUTHORS AND NOT REPORT THE FACTS AS THEY SHOULD HAVE ... more tree hugging politics shoved down peoples tanks.
  • 32
    Jim Calgary September 22, 2013 at 21:54
    Just retrieved a chainsaw that had been sitting unused for a year with a full tank of ethanol blended fuel in the tank out of one of our work trucks. The fuel cap O- ring had literaly turned to mush, chain oil cap was fine. Interesting the fuel tank filler hose on the same truck completely rotted away. Must I chalk this up as a coincidence?
  • 33
    Mark DeLisle Michigan September 25, 2013 at 10:42
    My 1965 Corvette had to have the rubber seal on the gas tank sending unit replaced twice due to it bloating up and leaking. Both my 1965 and 1972 Corvettes have had very serious performance issues that have required HEI systems to be installed and other tuning issues to resolve the performance problems. Very dissappointed in the fuel situation.
  • 34
    Frank Brunswick, Ga October 16, 2013 at 13:23
    My 1966 VW Bug had no power, hard to start, etc. Switched from E10 to Marine gas.....runs like a champ. I think everyone feels the same about ethanol gas.
  • 35
    Sam Plonski Rancho Mirage Ca November 5, 2013 at 03:00
    I have 35 full time years of experience as owner of Sam's Motorcycle Service In Rancho Mirage Ca. Reviving motorcycles from seasonal storage used to be 20% of my business. Now it is 80% of what we do. Carburetor rebuilds or other e10 fuel related problems like gas tank rust and fuel pump replacement. E10 might store fair for cold winter storage but it is completly different situation for us desert dwellers. Our motorcycle riding season is different here in the desert. I have documented my e10 and ethanol problem experiments at www.samscycle.net under summer storage warning. Fuel additives do not work. Most of them actually contain alcohol. They do not remove alcohol (sugar) from the gas. My customers park (store) their bikes here in the extreme summer desert heat and they go north. They return after summer so we call most of my customers snowbirds. Most of my customers now fallow my advice so they no longer store their bikes with alcohol or water sitting in their tiny and sensitive carburetors. I run the local bad pump gas in my own motorcycle but I ride it often and never let it sit for more than 7 days in the winter and never more than 3 days in the hot summer. For dry hot climates like mine please drain your carburetor and tank empty or park it with ethanol free fuel only. In California we only find pure gas as a specialty race fuel. You can also go to fuel testers.com to sigh the petition against government and Corn lobbyists taking our choices away.
  • 36
    Sam Plonski Rancho Mirage Ca. November 5, 2013 at 03:18
    I have 35 full time years of experience as owner of Sam's Motorcycle Service In Rancho Mirage Ca. Reviving motorcycles from seasonal storage used to be 20% of my business. Now it is 80% of what we do. Carburetor rebuilds or other e10 fuel related problems like gas tank rust and fuel pump replacement. E10 might store fair for cold winter storage but it is completly different situation for us desert dwellers. Our motorcycle riding season is different here in the desert. I have documented my e10 and ethanol problem experiments at (wont let me submit this with my website) under summer storage warning. Fuel additives do not work. Most of them actually contain alcohol. They do not remove alcohol (sugar) from the gas. My customers park (store) their bikes here in the extreme summer desert heat and they go north. They return after summer so we call most of my customers snowbirds. Most of my customers now fallow my advice so they no longer store their bikes with alcohol or water sitting in their tiny and sensitive carburetors. I run the local bad pump gas in my own motorcycle but I ride it often and never let it sit for more than 7 days in the winter and never more than 3 days in the hot summer. For dry hot climates like mine please drain your carburetor and tank empty or park it with ethanol free fuel only. In California we only find pure gas as a specialty race fuel. You can also go to fuel testers.com to sigh the petition against government and Corn lobbyists taking our choices away.
  • 37
    Shanna Kissimmee, Fl November 11, 2013 at 13:38
    Please forgive my ignorance, but I have heard so many mixed opinions on the subject including my mechanic's. Most of these complaints stem from letting the vehicle sit for periods of time. My 1965 Malibu Wagon is my daily driver, and it's usually several trips a day. I've only had it a few weeks; the previous owner suggested using an additive. The E-free fuel in town is considerably more expensive, especially for the miles I run. Would you still advise using E-free under these driving conditions?
  • 38
    Keith Martin, TN February 7, 2014 at 22:03
    We tried this under Jimmy Carter. Might as well put "Billy Beer" in the tank. It didn't work then, and it's not working now. What about the long term usage of E-10 and cast iron valves? These engines required leaded fuel to keep the valves from burning spots against the valve seats. I remember JB Octane Booster/Carb Cleaner (While containing high grade Methyl-Alcohol) had to be cut with Tetra-Ethyl Lead to protect the valves and fuel system. Granted: They use ethanol on the Indy/Formula circuits. However, that stuff is 190 proof. Is the ethanol used in gasoline the same proof? What does not come out as ethanol, comes out as water and unyeasted sugar. 1,500 miles doesn't prove a thing.
  • 39
    Paul Ricketts La Habra, CA. March 6, 2014 at 10:28
    I've owned a V.W./Porsche repair shop for over 40 years. I can say without doubt that e10 has cause more damage to fuel systems then you can ever imagine. Fuel lines that used to last 10 years now last 2 years tops.I used to go through a 20 meter roll of fuel hose twice a year. Now I go through a roll every 3 months. Floats in carbs were hardly ever an issue are being purchased by me in batches of 20. Fuel pumps aren't lasting very long either. Fuel consumption is up by 20% due to poorer milage, Who's actually benefiting from the use of this fuel??...NOT the consumer. Remember a few years back about the furor over projected fuel economy ratings posted on the window stickers of new vehicles? That was due to the switch to E10. But the with the consumption up because it now takes 4 gallons to do what 3 gallons used to, Oil companies are selling 25% more product and Governments are collecting 25% MORE revenue, I think it's perfectly clear who's benefiting here....Surely NOT the consumer......
  • 40
    Harold Boca Raton fl March 9, 2014 at 21:52
    I have been having trouble with ethanol lately my one gas tank has a brown slimey substance at the bottom I had the gas filtered because I thought it was water but it's not it mixes with the gas when disturbed but fills the water separator so it can be collected and removed but it keeps growing . I have 50 gal in the tank and will have to dispose of it all because I have had it filtered professionally once that really sucks
  • 41
    William Rowe St. Simons Island, Ga April 3, 2014 at 21:00
    Well, I have read all the comments on E10. Conclusiion is that your might as well be paying four dollars a gallon for water and sugar. Secondly, we heard from professionals with lots of experience in years of working with engines before and after. Lets not forget that we you read these reviews and have some mixed reviews from mechanics, you have to remember that some mechanics and the shops they run, want you to keep bring your poot corroded hunk of iron back so they can keep repairing it. Money in their pocket, No? Ethanol will destroy the car industry and your collectible gem. Somehow I remember reading that with certain high Es (20-30s) that some new car companies would not honor the warranty on that very expensive vehicle. I don't think their going to buy into "the government made me do it" crap. Reason: Politics and the greased palm. Answer: Vote the bastards out. Find a marine gas and use it.
  • 42
    ARTHUR FREDERICK, MD April 9, 2014 at 23:54
    I just droped my fuel tank. Have the parts to show that hagerty lies. The fuel does every thing they say it would not. Total melt down. The gas did my fuel system in 3yrs, after replacing the tank and pump system.

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