Ethanol and old cars
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  1. #1
    1000+ Posts Damien Gardner's Avatar
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    Default Ethanol and old cars

    A bit of a scary issue that a lot of drivers of older cars may not be aware of. Basically because of environmental legislation requiring fuel to be a percentage renewable there is a good chance the cheaper petrols we drivers of cars over 8 yrs old tend to favour may actually be destroying our cars. from next year it definatly will.

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    JBN
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    Ecellent article and confirms my reasons for not using it.

    John

  3. #3
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    It would appear that, unlike regular unleaded (95 RON), most super unleaded (97-99 RON) in the UK doesn't contain any ethanol.

    I thought that older cars couldn't use anything less than 4 star leaded (97 RON), so they shouldn't be using regular unleaded anyway.

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    i suppose the sorts of problems the article talks about can happen, but there does seem to be excessive worrying about this. i put ethanol blended petrol in both my cars (1969 lotus europa, 1981 jeep) with no problems. the lotus has webers which are, of course, full of brass parts. both cars have old school rubberised filler pipes and they are unaffected. i use normal fuel hoses. the lotus previously did have a rusted out steel tank, but that was prior to ethanol fuel blends and courtesy of plain old water collected in the bottom of the tank.

    it reminds me of the fretting about valve sear recession. lots of worrying about it, but i never really heard of anyone having the problem.

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    1000+ Posts jo proffi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexander View Post
    ..... both cars have old school rubberised filler pipes and they are unaffected.
    How did you determine they are unaffected????

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    lack of leaks.
    visual inspection when i have removed them for other reasons.
    lack of any effect on the jets in the carburetors.
    complete lack of any problem requiring a cause to be identified.

  7. #7
    VIP Sponsor David Cavanagh's Avatar
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    Another topic there appears to be no correct answer to.

    Personally I think your mad NOT to use it, its cheaper and has higher octane than nomal unleaded.

    Its been around for years now, I'd guess 20 years or more, and we've been using it all that time, in R10's, R12's, 4cv's, R16's, R18's, Fuego's and never had a problem.

    I remember when I first bought the 18 and thought it needed a tune up and filled it with ethanal and wow the performance was back and stuck with ethanol until the rest of it fell apart.

    One of my customers tried her 2001 Scenic on it and was so impressed she only ever used it and the car was up to 350,000km before it got shunted and written off.

    My sources tell me that these days most if not all petrol contains 5% ethanol (has for years) but United is the only ones saying so, When the law comes in that 5% must be used everyone will say there's no difference, thats because there already using it.

    Some people will blame problems on ethanol but after all the hundreds of thousands of kms my father, brother and his family and my family have done over the past 20 years in cars as old as 4cv's and my 403 I can safely say there isn't a problem.
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    Aside from any compatibility issues, one problem is that ethanol doesn't increase the motor octane number (MON) of petrol as much as it does the research octane number (RON).

    For instance, regular unleaded (in Australia) must have a minimum RON of 91 and a minimum MON of 81.

    A typical regular unleaded E10 blend has a RON of 93~95, and a MON of 82~83.

    Premium unleaded (in Australia and Europe) must have a minimum RON of 95 and a minimum MON of 85. So depending on how your engine reacts, regular unleaded E10 should not be assumed as a suitable substitute for premium unleaded, especially under heavy engine loads.

    A more suitable alternative would be the premium unleaded E10 blends, which are sold by United Petroleum as "Premium 98" (with a likely MON of 85~86).

  9. #9
    Veni Vidi Posti 68 404's Avatar
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    I find some of the claims made in the article a little misleading:

    1. Ethanol is simply a form of alcohol modified to use it as a fuel by making it undrinkable (ethyl alcohol).

    No, it is made undrinkable (denatured) by adding it to petrol. And 'ethyl alcohol' is a synonym for ethanol, it is not a modified version of it.

    2. Ethanol is also acidic, and this acid damages many materials.

    Chemically yes, it is on the acidic side of halfway (just) but it is so close to being neutral this claim is a stretch. It is far easier to get your point across when people think "OMG, Acid is eating away my internals".

    3.
    Starting at the beginning where the fuel is added to the vehicle…the filler neck of the fuel tank is attacked. In older vehicles this often has a rubber connection. Natural rubber is quickly broken down by Ethanol.

    It's been a long time since pure natural rubber was used for anything this side of condoms. Words like 'attacked' are used to create an angle.

    4.
    Ethanol to be hydroscopic to the extent that it readily absorbs moisture from the air. In a humid country like Britain this equates to a significant amount of water being added to the fuel and the steel (which has now had its protective layer stripped off by the Ethanol) begins to oxidize (rust).

    It's actually hygroscopic (not hydroscopic, is the author really an engineer??) and yes, ethanol does absorb water from ambient air (like brake fluid). Ethanol typically contains about 5% water in general use (the removal of this 5% is very difficult). So, if we have 1 litre of E10 (900ml petrol, 95ml ethanol, 5ml water). That's a teaspoon of water in every litre, or 250ml of water in every 50 litre tank.

    For what it's worth, I use 98 in the Megane and the Peugeot, but I think it's important to see through the bulldust and look at facts rather than pure emotive talk.

    Dave



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    WLB
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    From experience I can say that it can lead to all sorts of problems. To begin with, I've found that ... Oh. Sorry. Misread the topic. I thought it was Ethanol and old men.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WLB View Post
    From experience I can say that it can lead to all sorts of problems. To begin with, I've found that ... Oh. Sorry. Misread the topic. I thought it was Ethanol and old men.
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    My personal observation with ethanol-added fuels, is that when stood for a long while they are more inclined to cause oxidisation. This I have observed in small (carbureted) motors only, not having encountered fuelling issues in anything larger. Adding Sta-Bil would probably negate the issue.

  13. #13
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    I've used E10 for years in a Subaru, Mazda, Ford Fiesta and the Scenic almost exclusively from Freedom and United. I hate to tell the naysayers but I haven't had a fuel related problem in any of them. THe only reason the Pug doesn't get E10 is it's a Diesel (and gets a tank of Freedom Bio-diesel whenever needed).
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    Quote Originally Posted by addo View Post
    My personal observation with ethanol-added fuels, is that when stood for a long while they are more inclined to cause oxidisation. This I have observed in small (carbureted) motors only, not having encountered fuelling issues in anything larger. Adding Sta-Bil would probably negate the issue.
    I find with any unleaded petrol, after 3 months of sitting in the tank, the car just won't start. It is better with Sta-Bil, but that is a ridiculously expensive solution. Its cheaper to drain the tank when the car is laid up, throw the drained fuel in the Xantia, and fill a 5 litre jerry can with new fuel to start the car after being laid up. The cost of a bottle of Stabil fills half of the 25 litre tank.

    I found 95 RON to be far superior to E10 in my daughters automatic Lancer. It was still sluggish but a live slug is quicker than a dead slug.

    I would rather have the old leaded Super back. Stuff the planet. We look to be too late after seeing the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

    John

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    Default Old petrol !

    Hi,
    I too have found that the current petrol does not store well. Not related to the E10 but the base petrol, I think, that has a lot of crud. When it evapourates there is a varnish or ?? that coats the carby insides and can be impossible to remove if left for a couple of years.. I have had some older motorcycles and small engines where the carbys were quite clean from the original old fuel, but after using the current fuel they get clogged when you let the fuel stand for any length of time.

    I agree with JBN that it would be better to ditch the fuel if you are not using the vehicle and fill with fresh stuff when you need it.

    However back to the E10. I had a Chinese scooter which suffered a failure of the fuel tap diaphram. It delaminated in a strange manner. I blamed that on the ethanol fuel. But really its the fault of the manufacturer for not using suitable material. I sometimes use E10 in my car and its been OK.
    jaahn

  16. #16
    1000+ Posts Pugnut403's Avatar
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    Default Ethanol and old cars

    I've used it quite a few times and had no issues....
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  17. #17
    sans witticism SLC206's Avatar
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    I don't use E10 primarily because none of my cars are suitable for use with fuel of less than 95 RON.

    AFAIK, E10 is marketed as 91 by all the majors and doesn't quite make it to 95 (94 at best).

    I'm yet to be convinced that United has a special blend that makes it that extra 1 RON point and therefore ok.
    Regards,

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    JBN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobomacho View Post
    You have breached one of the hallowed Aussiefrogs traditions - "Don't let the facts spoil a good post".

    We are not interested in the facts. We are interested in the feelings. If it feels good - do it. Bloody hell, would any of us have French cars if we were interested in the facts rather than the feelings?

    John

  20. #20
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    No point in making a bad situation worse

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobomacho View Post
    No point in making a bad situation worse
    I believe in proof not some text book theory from people that are scared of any backlash. The only way to find out is to try it.

    We use E5 in all our French cars from the 4cv and 403 up to currect 01 Scenic although I don't know about Scenic yet but there is definately no problems in older French cars. Been using it since it was introduced some 20 odd years ago.
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    The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries obtains this information from Peugeot Australia, who obtained it from Peugeot global.

    http://www.peugeot.com.au/faq-fuel-compatibility/#faq-1

    It's not only Peugeot which discourage the use, almost every make around the world has a cut off date or specific model that's ill-equipped. I suspect the ethanol accelerates the wear of a particular material which these models are equipped with in the fuel system. E5 may take 40 years to perish a line where as e10 may only take 30, putting it as far as testers are concerned, out of spec.

    These 'text book theories from people that are scared of any backlash' are written by globally combined automotive engineers deriving tried and tested data from globally combined material engineers.

    Mind you it could be something as simple as it causing detonation on factory tune so they don't back it. No doubt they don't expect the general public to retard the timing manually or the car doesn't have a knock sensor.

    I've run e10 and detuned my timing when times are tough for months and it loves it.

  23. #23
    sans witticism SLC206's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Cavanagh View Post
    We use E5 in all our French cars
    I've not seen E5 for sale in any petrol stations in Sydney or various parts of NSW - we only get E10. Where do they sell E5 in Victoria?
    Regards,

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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobomacho View Post
    The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries obtains this information from Peugeot Australia, who obtained it from Peugeot global.

    http://www.peugeot.com.au/faq-fuel-compatibility/#faq-1

    It's not only Peugeot which discourage the use, almost every make around the world has a cut off date or specific model that's ill-equipped. I suspect the ethanol accelerates the wear of a particular material which these models are equipped with in the fuel system. E5 may take 40 years to perish a line where as e10 may only take 30, putting it as far as testers are concerned, out of spec.

    These 'text book theories from people that are scared of any backlash' are written by globally combined automotive engineers deriving tried and tested data from globally combined material engineers.

    Mind you it could be something as simple as it causing detonation on factory tune so they don't back it. No doubt they don't expect the general public to retard the timing manually or the car doesn't have a knock sensor.

    I've run e10 and detuned my timing when times are tough for months and it loves it.
    Thats all fine but people are scared to put anything in writing these days, understandable I suppose.

    My father, a retired mechanical engineer and his best mate a retired chemical engineer (if fact, he was on the board discussing the pros and cons of unleaded in Canberra back in the mid 80's) and the 2 of them together, both being Pug nuts and both driving 504's at the time came up with the theory that 5% ethanol was exactly what they needed. They were so excited when United introduced it. Dad had moved onto an R10 by then and it never ran better. He was the one who got us to use it and yes it works and its fine to use.

    His mate ran the 504 on it up until only a few years ago when it got replaced by a 405.

    Anyway, so what if it takes 40 years to perish lines. If fuel lines were not meant to last that long anyway
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  25. #25
    VIP Sponsor David Cavanagh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SLC206 View Post
    I've not seen E5 for sale in any petrol stations in Sydney or various parts of NSW - we only get E10. Where do they sell E5 in Victoria?
    United down here sell both E5 and E10. Never tried E10, E5 works fine.
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