1. Autos
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Questions and Answers


Ethanol As A Fuel

  • New car warranties.
    Ethanol began being used in 1979 and auto manufactures did not address the use of ethanol blended fuels. Then when they began testing their vehicles with the new blended fuels, they were able to approve the use of the 10% ethanol blended fuels. Some went as far as to recommend the new blended fuels in their vehicles.

  • Do I have to do anything to my engine to use a 10% ethanol fuel?
    All engines built from 1970 can use the 10% ethanol blended fuels with no problems or modifications. A carbureted engine may need an adjustment to take full advantage of the fuel.

  • Will the new fuels work in a fuel injected engine?
    It sure will. At first you may need to change the fuel filter more often as the ethanol cleans out the fuel system, but once that is done fuel filter replacement will go back to normal. Ethanol can loosen contaminants and residues that have been deposited by previous gasoline fills. These can collect in the fuel filter. This problem has happened occasionally in older cars, and can easily be corrected by changing fuel filters. Since 1985 all ethanol blended fuels and most non-blended fuels have had detergents added to them to keep fuel injectors clean and prevent deposits that could clog them.

  • Will adding a gas line anti-freeze cause problems?
    Gas line anti-freezes are made from ethanol, methanol or isopropyl alcohol to absorb water in the fuel and keep it from freezing. That one little bottle of gas line anti-freeze is about 0.3% of the volume of a full gas tank. With a 10% ethanol blended fuel, it's 10% so it will absorb a lot more water and you'll never have to worry about a frozen fuel line. Now you don't have to worry about buying it, keeping it in the trunk and adding it to the tank when you fill up.

  • What about my valves?
    Not to worry, ethanol burns cooler than straight gasoline helping to keep the valves cool. This is the main reason that high powered racing engines burn straight alcohol.

  • Will ethanol hurt my older engine designed for leaded gas?
    No. The concern about older engines came about because of the lead phase-out. Lead oxides that were formed during combustion provided a cushion that reduced wear on non-case-hardened valve seats. Therefore, it is the absence of lead, not the presence of ethanol, that is of concern.

  • Why do some mechanics say not to use ethanol?
    A mechanic who says not to use ethanol does not have correct information. There is very little information available for mechanics on fuel formulation, so when there appears to be a fuel-related problem with an engine, some mechanics will immediately ask if ethanol has been used. The only reason ethanol is suspected is that in many states it is the only gasoline component other than lead that has an identifying label. In North Dakota, New Mexico, and Idaho, ethanol proponents have offered a $100 reward to any customer who can document damage from ethanol to his or her car, and so far no one has ever collected.

  • Okay, what about my gas milage?
    At the very worst it will be very slight. Ethanol contains 97% of the energy that pure gasoline has. But because the combustion efficiency is increased, the slight reduction in energy content is compensated for. Most users will not notice the decrease, if any, and many people have reported an increase in fuel milage.

  • Can I use it in my lawn mower?
    No, you'll have to stop mowing the lawn every week. Only kidding, I thought I saw a few people smile at that prospect. The answer is yes, you can use the 10% ethanol blended fuels anywhere you use regular unleaded fuel. It can be used in any lawn mower, snow plow, snowmobile, ATV and any other gas powered engine. There may be some carburetor adjustment needed, so always refer to your equipments owners manual before using it.

  • Can I use it in diesel engine?
    No, Diesel fuel and ethanol don't mix. Besides which gasoline is an octane fuel while diesel fuel is a cetain fuel.

   Ethanol is a very safe fuel, if you spill it it will not contaminate the ground water. If you drink it, you'll get drunk. Although if you drink large quantities you will suffer liver damage. In fact, if you drink just about any alcoholic beverage, you're drinking ethanol in one form or another. I was hard pressed to find any down sides to the use of ethanol as a fuel. There are reports that the emissions of an ethanol burning engine can adversely effect plant life, but studies are still being conducted to prove or disprove this.

   Copyright © 2000 - 2003 Vincent T. Ciulla All Rights Reserved

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.