The Negative Effects of Using Ethanol Gas

Mechanical damage, premature engine failure, fuel line corrosion, gas leaks, fires – these are just some of the problems that have been linked to the use of ethanol fuel.

Many fuel suppliers in the US are now mixing ethanol in the gasoline that they sell. While there are special engine requirements for E85 ethanol fuel, lower blends like E10 are freely distributed and widely used. Thus, it is entirely possible that your fuel supplier is providing you with an E10 ethanol fuel instead of the regular gasoline you’re used to. And with the government pushing this development and even providing subsidies for the ethanol industry, it is possible that most gasoline sold in the US will soon contain ethanol.

The rising concern about ethanol gasoline problems does not affect everyone. It seems that different engines react to ethanol fuel differently. Some engines use ethanol blends just fine, but some seem to be having major ethanol (E10) problems.

Common Ethanol in Gasoline Problems

One of the most common problems caused by the presence of ethanol in gasoline is that ethanol is more corrosive and can therefore attack the rubber seals used in fuel systems as well as other components of your car’s engine. This is a well-recognized problem, which proper care and maintenance can help you avoid. Also, new cars these days are coming out with engine components and rubber seals that can better resist ethanol corrosion.

As for the dangerous, flammable fuel leaks and mechanical problems being linked to ethanol fuel, they are traced to cases wherein an E85 ethanol blend was used for an engine that is simply not equipped for it. E85 ethanol, which has an 85% ethanol content, can only be used for flex fuel systems. If E85 is used by a non flex fuel system, it can indeed cause major engine problems.

"E10 ethanol fuel disadvantages, however, are fewer in number ". At 10% concentrations and less, ethanol blends are found to be safe for most engines.

Recently, many state governments have issued mandates to start increasing the concentration of ethanol in gasoline to around 15 to 20 percent. This prompted a lot of unfavorable response from various groups.

The use of E15 fuel has been linked to certain problems not associated with E10 fuel. These include unintentional clutch engagement due to high idle speeds, high engine-exhaust temperatures, erratic operation, engine stalling, and power reduction, among others.

Currently, the use of E15 blends and higher in regular engine types is still under further observation, so E10 and E85 (for flex fuel systems) blends are the safest to use.

Problems with Ethanol in Gasoline for Small Engine ;

While ethanol in gasoline problems are controlled in the case of ethanol fuel for vehicles, the same cannot be said for the use of ethanol fuel in small engines.

Engines found in mowers, tractors, and other power equipment that run on fuel were found to suffer from certain ethanol in gasoline problems more than automobile engines did.

According to power equipment pros, ethanol in gasoline caused the metal parts of power equipment to crust up and made the plastic parts stiff and prone to cracks. Also, all rubber components suffered from deterioration.

While the automobile industry is perfectly supportive of the move to add ethanol to gasoline, other engine types, specifically small engines, are not as prepared to tackle the ethanol in gasoline problems.

To avoid causing any problems, use E10 fuel only for your vehicle and do not use E85 fuel unless you have converted your vehicle to flex fuel. Also, avoid using ethanol fuel in small engines. If you’re not sure if your gasoline has ethanol in it, there are alcohol/ethanol fuel test kits that can help you find out for sure.