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Putting Ethanol Into Your Classic Car For The First Time

Posted by: Bell Performance

The immediate effect that ethanol gasoline is going to have is fuel filter plugging because of
ethanol’s solvency.

In this case, we’re talking about the cleaning action of ethanol kicking up the decades of dirt inside the engine & fuel system. So you’ll probably have to change the filter.

What Should a Classic Car Owner Do?


Now we get to the meat of the issue. If you’re at the point where you have little choice but to
use E10/E15 in your classic car, here are some recommendations on steps you should take to protect your investment while still maximizing your driving enjoyment on ethanol fuel.

  • Ethanol gasoline corrodes metal parts like carburetors, so switch out affected parts.

That’s an immediate concern for classic vehicles. So is the fuel's effects on certain parts made out of leather or plastic. A classic car owner should be very concerned about ethanol’s effects on these parts over time. The simple solution here is to do some part exchanges for more modern parts that are ethanol compatible. This is highly recommended to do as a proactive measure for classic car owners.

  • Replace any plastic or rubber fuel lines with ethanol-resistant hose or nylon tubing. This will reduce the chance of critical damage to these parts from ethanol solvency.
  • Install a water separator filter in the fuel line leading to the carburetor. Water collects in the filter and can be removed periodically.
  • Replace any fiberglass tanks with steel or aluminum.

Ethanol fuels are well known to dissolve and eat through fiberglass. Marinas in the Northeast found this out very early on.

  • Ensure that any O-rings in the fuel system are also ethanol-compatible
  • Consider adding a second fuel filter

Some recommendations are to add a second fuel filter between the tank and the fuel pump to protect it from loose debris that ethanol may have kicked up.

  • Keep your tank as full as possible to prevent air space where condensation can form. This is an especially-good idea to combat the fuel’s extreme tendencies to attract water from the air around it.
  • Shop around on www.pure-gas.org to locate a marina or service station that does not pump E10 or E85. None of these stations will be affiliated with a major gasoline producer, but there are still some out there, especially in areas around lakes and rivers where boating is popular.
  • Vent your fuel system during storage for extended periods.
This is recommended because the moisture that your fuel system might absorb from the outside will be less than the moisture created in the air space inside.

What Classic Car Owners Must Know About Ethanol Fuels

This post was published on May 5, 2014 and was updated on October 14, 2020.

Topics: Classic Cars, Ethanol