I’ve had good results with ethanol

February 1, 2009 | By Richard Prince


I would like to respond to those who have written in complaining about the blended fuel, 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol. I live in Illinois, which is corn country, and I know that some people are blaming all of their problems on the new fuel.

In 1979 our local Farm Bureau fuel distributor introduced gasohol in this area, which is a 90/10 blend of gasoline and ethanol. At that time I was driving a new 1978 Olds Cutlass with a 260 V-8 that desperately needed more octane than the 87 in regular fuel.

My dad, who was an ASE certified technician as well as a certified GM technician, advised me to go ahead and try the “new” fuel. I put over 90,000 miles on the Cutlass with absolutely no fuel system-related problems. My best friend had a 1977 Pontiac Can Am with the same octane symptoms that I was having with the Cutlass and he switched as well and put more than 100,000 miles on the Can Am with absolutely no problems, and I know that because my dad serviced his car as well.

Since the introduction of gasohol I have used it in carbureted and fuel-injected engines with the only difference being more power and better performance.

I own a 1968 Ford Mustang with a 289 2-barrel and a 1936 Chevrolet. Both cars are original and I use it in both and I have not had any problems whatsoever with the fuel systems.

As daily driver cars my wife drives a 2007 Ford Fusion and I have a 1986 GMC Caballero with a 305 4-barrel and a 2005 Ford Focus and I use the blended fuel in those vehicles.

In the newer Fords we have noticed that with the more power that we get, we tend to “trim our toenails in the fan blades” as in we like the additional power and tend to accelerate a lot more and our fuel economy goes down. We have found that if we drive not shoving the gas pedal down so far to feel the power we achieve 2 to 3 more miles per gallon with the blended fuel compared to just regular gasoline driving the same way. We have done comparisons with each car since they are equipped with MPG computers on board giving us the MPG rate constantly.

One thing that everyone should be aware of is that some gas retailers will add methanol to the gas and people will smell it and think it is ethanol. Methanol is highly corrosive to aluminum and rubber engine parts and it has been said that ethanol is also corrosive but not as much as methanol.

Well, I have not had any rubber or fuel lines or aluminum parts destroyed by using the ethanol blended fuel. I think these guys with the fuel system problems need to look at the system parts and where are they getting the parts. Don’t always buy the less expensive parts because for some reason they are less expensive.

I have never had vapor lock or any system failure caused by ethanol blended fuel and neither have any of my fellow local car club friends. So guys, look further than blaming it right off the bat on ethanol. Ethanol is not your problem.


Don’t hold back brother, go ahead and tell us how you really feel about ethanol! Kidding aside, I understand your position and I agree with much of what you’ve said but there are a few major points you’ve made that I do disagree with. First, as I said above, it is clear that ethanol is incompatible with some fuel system components in some older vehicles. Like the great majority of vintage vehicle enthusiasts, you and your circle of car friends have not had any problems but that doesn’t mean that nobody has experienced problems. Second, your observation that ethanol blended fuels has resulted in better fuel mileage is not supported by well-established facts.

Compared with hydrocarbon-based fuel, ethanol has lower energy content (23.5 MJ/liter for ethanol vs. 34.8 MJ/liter for regular gasoline and 39.5 MJ/liter for premium) and a disadvantageous stoichiometric air/fuel ratio, both of which result in decreased fuel economy, particularly in engines that were designed to run entirely on gasoline.

The disparity in efficiency can be diminished in an engine designed from the beginning to run on a significant ethanol blend because the higher octane rating of ethanol allows for a considerably higher compression ratio, which can yield equal power output from a smaller, lighter engine.