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New Study Shows Ethanol Not the Enemy for Older Cars

By September 9, 2009

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The next time you take your classic out for a cruise night or car show, do an impromptu poll with those in attendance and see how many folks feel that the ethanol now used in modern fuels is detrimental †for their older vehicles.† We wouldn't be surprised if the majority said yes and had a story about how they thought ethanol was the culprit in a mechanical malady.

Insurance companies specializing in classic car policies may even contain an ethanol †clause and will not pay out claims if it has been found to destroy your engine.† Hagerty Insurance, a leader in insuring vintage vehicles, was so concerned that they, in conjunction with the Kettering University Advanced Engine Research Laboratory, conducted a study to determine how much danger ethanol really poses to vintage cars.

Preliminary results have recently been reported on Hagertyís website and they conclude:

"The results from the tests with the SU carburetors and fuel pumps suggest that E10 can be used in older vehicles, although the owner is likely to be faced with the additional costs associated with sealing fuel tanks and cleaning and rebuilding fuel systems more frequently than in the past. However, itís best to be cautious about reading into these preliminary results until the tests of the five other fuel systems are complete. Until then, itís safe to assume that you can continue to drive your collector vehicle using E10; it may just cost you more in the long run."

The complete article for the Kettering study, Ethanol: Demonic or Devine, leaves us feeling like E10 is not the bad guy that it has been made out to be, you just need to be aware of the additional care your classic car will need over time.

As always, we would appreciate your thoughts on the matter, just click on the comments link below.

September 11, 2009 at 11:50 am
(1) Ernie Frye says:

When California first started blending it in the fuel I had a 61 Cady and a 65 Lincoln. With in 2 weeks of each other I was driving down the road and they quit running, no fuel. After tearing every thing apart I found that the check valve in the fuel pump had fell out of the housing in both pumps. They were glued in and the fuel had eaten the epoxy.

September 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm
(2) Will Murray says:

I have 25 collector vehicles. As of today I have had to replace 6 fuel pumps and I still have one car that needs to be towed to the shop. The damned ethanol will destroy your fuel pump.

September 11, 2009 at 1:33 pm
(3) Jerry C. WHITE says:

The Wall St. Journal had an article about ethanol last year, and they panned it. It was primarily about older inboard marine engines, and their destruction after using the 5% mix from marinas. Not only did the engines crater, but older fiberglass fuel tanks would actually have the resin leached out of the tank wall, causing leaks and general fuel system difficulties. Since ethanol is hydroscopic and pulls moisture out the atmosphere. I don’t want that junk in my car or truck. Living in SE Texas, the humidity saying is “you can either breathe it or drink it.” Motor oils are a different proposition.

September 11, 2009 at 6:08 pm
(4) Paul Shuler says:

The statement in your article that “the additional care your classic car will need over time” due to ethanol in the fuel system is tantamount to saying that it does cause problems that you would not expect to have otherwise. So far, I’ve mostly avoided putting ethanol blended gas in my antique vehicles because ethanol-free BP gasoline is still available in this area, but maybe not for long.

September 12, 2009 at 5:29 am
(5) Larry says:

I live in California and have a 67 volvo with 550,000 miles on it and I have had no fuel or carb problems. My 51 Jaguar has also had no problems, along with my 56 Ford pickup, so I guess it depends on what components are in the fuel system.

January 30, 2010 at 12:57 pm
(6) Christopher Herb says:

I’m supprised that you titled this article “New Study Shows Ethanol Not the Enemy for Older Cars.” I’ve reviewed “Ethonol: Demonic or Devine” and an article that was linked from “Ethenol Corrossion and SCC”. My conclusion is exactly the opposite of yours. Why would you justify the cost of replacing your entire fuel system with much more frequency than before? In fact, in some instances the failures are so soon as to be after only 1 year in use. Read the study by iCorrossion. Tell me that’s okay. I guess it’s fine if you like to throw your money away. Politial agendas are more important than your hard earned money.

January 10, 2011 at 10:23 am
(7) Kenneth bartel says:

I have a 1997 Ford Vic and have trouble starting my car
and the mileage is a lot worse with the ethanol in the
gas. I’m retired and can’t afford to buy a new car.
Is their anything that can be done ? This is a very big

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