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Ethanol fuel additive eating up old classic engins

I have a beautifully restored 1940 Buick Road Master Convertible with a Straight 8. Being located in Michigan and Northwest Ohio it stays in storage from Oct to May. The fuel tank is filled and treated with Sta-Bil. Then we refil with fresh gas to start the season. Last year as I first drove it, it kept stalling out after 10 to 15 miles. I occasionally use the electric fuel pump when I suspect carb freeze but this did not help. I was constantly messing with the carburetor but I kept stalling out then having a nightmare to get it re started. Also the fuel gauge was not working and the restoration is less than 5 years old total and I mean total off the body restoration. I dropped the tank to check on the  fuel level sensor and found the float corroded into two pieces at the brass solder junction. Then the fuel pump  rubber diaphragm was also partly eaten away. Almost anything rubber in the fuel system was being corroded. I then found out from the experts in the classic car circles recognize that the ethanol in the unleaded gasoline is reeking havoc on the older classic engines. In fact word is out that the percent is being increased from around 10% to up to 40% in the near future. One can not obtain gasoline in Michigan or Ohio that has not had ethanol added to it.  I have just found that Sta-Bil is now marketing Sta-Bil Ethanol Treatment additative. Has anyone had sufficient experience with this product to make comment or have other suggestions?  I have been using some Aviation gas because it has no ethanol added but it is cumbersome to obtain when you are on the road and there are legal questions to boot.(Road tax, etc).    


  • edited May 2011

    It's the ethanol in the gas that's damaging your fuel system components. We learned that lesson when Minnesota mandated all gasolines sold contain 10% ethanol in 1994.

    Ethenol is corrosive. And the fuel system components in your old car were never designed to be exposed to any concentration of ethanol. You've seen the results with the float being corroded and in two pieces, and with the fuel pump diaphram eaten away.

    I can't vouch if Sta-Bil for ethanol actually reduces the corrosive nature of ethanol. I've never had to use it because after two years Minnesota backed off it's mandate that all gas contain 10% ethanol. That's because the state was threatened with a class action law suit for mandating a law that caused damage to personal property. So we can now purchase ethanol-free gasoline in Minnesota.




  • In Minnesota, the Minnesota Street Rod Association puts out a fuel sheet that has all of the stations state-wide that sell non-oxygenated gas.  I use this for small engines etc.   Maybe Michigan does not have it available at all, but might be worth a check with the street rod folks to see if the non-oxy is available at all for old cars, boats, lawn mowers, and so on.
  • edited May 2011


    Did you know the MSRA was the entity that filed the class action law suit against the state?

    Yep! They were the first to feel the effects of ethanol gas in their old cars in 1996.


  • So you had replaced all the parts involved during the restoration and weren't using 70 year old parts?
  • Tester, I've seen the same product on the shelves at the auto parts store and was going to recommend the OP try it.

  • ggrakerdink, have you checked here for ethanol-free gas?
  • Everyone agrees that ethanol is corrosive and can attack elastomers not designed to withstand it. I'll comment on the "10% to 40%" question. The EPA just recently approved 15% for over the road moror vehicle use. However, ethanol use is not mandated, only approved. We'll see whether the gasoline industry begins making the switch. My own feeling is that nobody will buy it so nobody will sell it. Some may try, but when they lose customers and begin getting complainst they'll go back to 10%.....or 0%.

    IMHO ethanol is a farce anyway.
  • If you are willing to jump through a few hoops, your local airport will sell you av-gas which contains no ethanol..

    The oil companies are in the business of selling petroleum and had to be FORCED to sell ethanol through their established infrastructure. They did not give that gift to the ethanol industry willingly..

    Their attitude was and still is: "If ADM corp wants to sell ethanol as motor fuel, fine, let them do it without government subsidy and let them build their own ethanol stations while they are at it...
  • edited May 2011

    How Much More Of This B.S. Can One Tolerate ?

    "Man-made" Climate Change (Previously "Global Warming" before the cooling began) is over with, exposed as a hoax. Next time you get to vote, choose wisely. Many candidates, from one party in particular, want to end subsidies for corn-gas so that some people can't profit by screwing up your personal property.

    My wife's car is set up to run on E-85 (yellow gas cap and all), but it will never run on it. What a joke. One read of the Owner's Manual (I was thinking of having her try it) convinced me that even the car's manufacturer thinks it will screw up her car based on the weather that comes with our normal climate. I'd maybe try it if I lived in a year-around warm climate, but what for, anyhow ? Get the alcohol out of my gas.


  • ""Man-made" Climate Change (Previously "Global Warming" before the cooling began) is over with, exposed as a hoax."

    CSA, please provide a reference.  I'd like to see if an unimpeachable source stated this.

This discussion has been closed.