Catalytic converter lifespan

My favorite source of “things automotive” (The USA Today) reports that “since ethanol burns hotter there is concern with catalytic converter lifespan”. This little comment was in an recent article detailing the EPA’s blessing for the use of automotive fuels (gasoline) with a 15% ethanol percentage rate in 2001-06 automobiles. Of all the potential troubles from 15% ethanol this caught me by suprise.My experience with the early demise of catalytic converters is in the “rattling” area (that is the cat. is replaced because it rattles but all else about it is good).

Using the USA Today for automotive information is a bit like using Fox News for factual information, I do both simply to see what the public is being told.I get the impression that this increase to 15% ethanol is only pleasing a select few people. Is the catalytic converter problem the big one in question with this change in which cars can run 15% ethanol?

I’m Warning You. I Don’t Think It’s Any Big Deal.

“Pull your car into this stall right here and we’ll get it up in the air.”
“I’m an automotive expert technician and I’ll be taking care of your car.”
“My name is Congressman / Congresswoman ____________ (fill in the blank).”
“I’m from the Government and I’m here to help.”


I’ve NEVER had a cat fail…Been using 10% Ethanol for years. Relatives in NY have been using 10% ethanol even longer…Here in NH MTBE was the main oxygenater until it started getting into the ground water.

But that doesn’t mean that 15% isn’t going to cause problems. If it burns a lot hotter it may also cause oil slugging problems (which we saw in the 70’s when unleaded gas was introduced).