Ethanol gas

I have cars of 1996 and 1887 vintage; the 1996 specifies high octane gas. I live in GA and cannot find gas without at least 10% ethanol, which has recently been approved to go to 15%. Will/does this damage my old cars? Do they add ethanol to high octane?

here is a web site that will answer all questions pertaining to ethanol/gasoline.

1887 you say?

Anyway, most car engines (though not all small engines) will tolerate 10% Ethanol fine. I can’t be 100% sure, but I would wager than 15% won’t cause any problems. I’m sure the braintrust who make such decisions did their homework on the subject. Or at least I hope they did.

My 1996 and 1997 cars run fine on E10. Gas mileage goes down about 10% though. Yes, they put ethanol in all grades of gas.

Thanks for input… 1887 was typo- s/b 1997. In Georgia, there is no braintrust which would consider the issues…only who pays the legislators the most to get their items voted on.

In Iowa and Wisconsin, both corn raising states there are gas stations with ethanol and non ethanol pumps. That reminds me of the bad old days when yellow colored oleo was not permitted in these states but a dairy could put yellow color in cheddar cheese which is naturally white and also in butter in the winter which otherwise became lighter in color due to cows not having access to grass.

If you are weary of the phony and contrived requirements to burn ethanol, write your congressmen/women and tell them to take away the subsidy on ethanol. Ethanol motor vehicle fuel can not stand on its own and without a taxpayer provided subsidy will die a natural and well deserved death.

Few people around here buy into the Ethanol bunk nor do they want it. Almost every station around advertises No Ethanol and several stores even have signs up stating that “Even our fast food is Ethanol free!”

It shouldn’t hurt your vehicles at all and I agree; take the politics out of Ethanol and it will be history pretty darned quick.
If Ethanol is viable then let it stand on its own in the free market. If it can’t stand on its own, then adios.

New Jersey has mandated E10 all year for the last 3 or 4 years (maybe longer). Other than the expected decrease in mpg, I’ve had no problems with my 1993 Caprice.

Ed B

In Georgia, there is no braintrust which would consider the issues…only who pays the legislators the most to get their items voted on.

That’s the same everywhere…State legislatures are just toll booths for corporate lobbyists…

We don’t have to import ethanol from Saudi Arabia. That’s the issue, not the largely imaginary problems suffered by automotive hobbyists 20 and 30 year old “classic” cars. They fantasize the fuel pump would last forever if it only had some pure gasoline to run on…

In GA all grades (87-93) may or may not contain ethanol. The presence and percent ethanol changes with each and every delivery. Not a single conventional engine manufacturer approves of over 10% (E10). Primary reason to oppose EPA waiver for increase to E15, deadline is 7/20/09. By the late 1990’s most engines were designed to run on E10. Older engines lacking computerized emmissions system and oxygen sensor are often unable to adapt to higher oxygen content resulting in decreased mpg. Ethanol readily attracts water and is a strong solvent. Most problems attributed to E10 are because gas is water-contaminated or older engine parts (esp. rubber & plastics) not resistant to alcohol. Ethanol blends have lower energy (BTU’s) and when E10 gas phase separates from water octane can drop 2-4 points. (High octane ethanol binds with water and drops to bottom of tank) -Reason high perf. vehicles often run into driveability/performance problems. In my area all stations placed E10 stickers in fall, but recently all tested were ethanol-free (they all did contain ethanol last month and prior). I expect they will go back to blending ethanol, but if you want to avoid ethanol I suggest you test gas at the pump before purchase (only takes about 2 mins). You will find certain stations that always blend at lower percent (below 5%) to avoid water contamination issues - So even if you’re unable to find ethanol-free stick with stations with lowest blend. Since ethanol is a strong cleanser, be sure to check and replace fuel filter often in older vehicles after switch. The max shelf life of E10 is 3 months, replacing gas every 2-3 weeks prevents most water absorption issues (assuming gas was fresh, water-free and contained below 10% legal limit for ethanol when you purchased it). Don’t want to get into politics discussed here, but for the record E85 (used only in a FFV) makes alot more sense than E10 to decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

Certain parts of the country were MANDATED by the EPA to use Oxygenated Gas. The two most popular ways is with Ethanol or MTBE. I’ll take Ethanol any day of the week. It’s going to be years and cost us MILLIONS to clean up the MTBE that has made it’s way to our water systems from underground gas tanks. So if you live in a area that is required to use Oxygenated Gas…be thankful its NOT MTBE.

I’ll second that. MTBE has caused a lot of environmental problems. The refineries preferred it originally because they could make it themselves, rather than relying on buying product from third parties, but they quickly learned how much grief it can cause.

Our '87 and '91 Volvo owner’s manuals warn that the seals in the fuel system are not compatible with ethanol, but I have never heard of anyone having any problems from using it in old Volvos, so 10% must not be a serious problem.

"decrease our dependence on foreign oil"
We’re talking about an additive which creates a 20% loss in mileage or in my case 80 miles per 20 gallon tank. There are no savings with ethanol, only costs. Every mpg you can get WITHOUT ethanol saves you about 12 cents. Most vehicles get 4 miles per gallon with out ethanol which creates about a 48 cents a gallon savings. This fluctuates with the costs of fuel. There isn’t much we can do about ethanol but avoid it as much as possible. Unless I’m mistaken, if there is a sticker on the pump stating “NO ETHANOL” by Federal law, no ethanol can be sold thru those pumps, however, if there is “NO LABEL” then anything can be sold thru the pumps. Its up to each driver, to keep up with their own MPGs to find out what they are putting in their tanks. Pure Oil Co. has the "no alcohol"
stickers on their pumps and that is what I use greatly… A 20 - 21% waste of mileage leads to a shortage of gas and that causes prices to rise on a “supply and demand” issue.
To find out more on the ethanol or no-ethanol issues, do a search at the top of the page on “ethanol”, find out your own mpgs with your own vehicle and then decide.
We can’t continue beating this “dead horse” of an issue, but I do like the idea of contacting Senators and Representatives about repealing any legislative acts which cause this amount loss of mileage. This isn’t about decreasing our dependence of foreign oil, its more about a political action committee of corn growers associations.
Good luck with your research.

I haven’t heard Tom and Ray mention this, maybe they will now.

I have a '89 Toyota Corolla wagon with manual 5 speed and a 4-AF engine (175K miles). It has a carburetor. As soon as we started using E-85 or the 10% mixture the gas mileage dropped about 10%. No surprise. But I’ve discovered somethings that effects ALL these old cars. I learned it from the man at the local hardware store where he deals daily with poorly running (or not running at all) gasoline powered gardening equipment.

Ethanol is a solvent of gasoline sludge, sludge that’s been accumulating for 20+ years. So when you start using ethanol blended gasoline, all of this sludge gets back into solution and proceeds to clog fuel filters, carburetors and fuel injectors.

Ethanol is partly water which rusts metal gas tanks. My old Toyota has a steel gas tank. The consequence is that each week I must back wash my clear plastic fuel filter. I do this by pulling off the fuel line that goes to the gas tank and shaking the fuel filter into a container that has a coffee filter in it so I can see what I’ve caught. Weekly I get about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonful of powdery rust. If I fail to do this for about a month the car will start to run very poorly, gas starved by a clogged fuel filter.

I pass this along: If you’re old car has a steel gas tank and a carburetor, you can run E10 by changing your fuel filter frequently or by back washing it.

I wonder if fuel injected or throttle body injected cars with steel gas tanks can really be run using E85, or the 10% mixture. The fuel filter is in the gas tank with the fuel pump and is an expensive hassle to replace. Or are there no such cars (they’ve all stopped running and have been scrapped)?

Everyone who drives a 20+ year old car needs to know if it has a steel gas tank or whether it has a plastic one like my 78 dodge truck. A magnet will let you know in an instant.

The man at the hardware store recommends that people use 89 octane gas in their lawnmowers because it is a different mixture that contains less ethanol. Works for me. (My hedge trimmers had a rotten rubber part in the fuel tank, BTW.)


Yes we do! Do you think the farm equipment used to plow, plant, fertilize, and harvest the corn runs on ethanol? And then there’s the trucks that have to transport the corn to the ethanol distillery. Then the energy used to distill the ethanol. Then the trucks used to transport the ethanol to the refineries. Then after all that, we end up with a fuel that delivers 10% less in fuel economy over non-ethanol gas.

Here’s one basic fact. You cannot get more energy out of something than the energy that you put in!


Is there a idea that the infrastructure that was in place when you bought your car must be maintained (at someone elses expense?)What I am getting at it we all may have to get used to change,the structure that supported our cars in 1987 may not always be around.

Lets just say that your 1987 absolutely requires 93 octane with zero ethanol. Should we all pay just so the few who need this type fuel can have it? I say no.

Find a different car and lessen your burden on others.

There may come a day where in certain cities driving a car is not even allowed even if it is of the ULEV type. Personal transportation is not so certain in the future.

True Oldschool,my Dakota runs fine on E10-but mileage suffers anyways I dont gripe about anything that creates American employment now(I’m sorry but obselesence does)-Kevin