What is Ethanol fuel?
Ethanol is ethyl alcohol which is the same alcohol found in your glass of beer or wine. Ethanol is added to gasoline to reduce carbon monoxide emissions. Nowadays most cars can run on an ethanol fuel blend of up to 10% which is the most common gas sold in the US. This is known as E10 fuel. You might also have heard it referred to as gasohol or renewable fuel, as the ethanol comes from renewable sources. Corn is one such source.
The main problem with ethanol fuel is that it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Even fuel with a small amount or ethanol such as an E10 blend can absorb up to 50% more water from the atmosphere than gasoline.
So what’s the problem with water in your gas tank? Basically once the amount of water in the fuel reaches saturation point, it causes the fuel to separate into two layers; one thick and one thin. The thick layer contains gasoline and a small amount of ethanol. The thin layer contains water with ethanol. Even a small amount of water will cause this separation. Even in a modern sealed fuel system water can separate out, for example when there are changes in temperature.
OUR TOP PICK
Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment
Fixes problems caused by Ethanol
Cleans the fuel system including injectors
Stabilizes fuel for up to 12 months
Rejuvenates old fuel
Ethanol fuel is corrosive, it can damage rubber or plastic components in your fuel system such as diaphragms, hoses and seals. Alcohol is a solvent and it can actually remove deposits from the engine. While this may seem like a good thing these deposits can settle elsewhere – such as in the injectors. A lot of older fuel systems are not designed to cope with alcohol in the fuel. Meaning that if you have an older car it’s even more critical to take some care when using an E10 fuel.
Don’t forget that ethanol fuel affects other types of engines such as mowers and boats as well. In fact these are more likely to have problems as they are used less often. Ethanol fuel problems tend to be exacerbated the longer the fuel sits around without use. So if you are running these types of engines then you really want to consider an additive to stabilize the fuel and save your engines.
E15 is a new blend with 15% alcohol. This is quite a controversial blend approved for use by the EPA in June 2012 for vehicles built after 2001. The American Automobile Association (AAA) have warned about the problems with E15. You can find out more about their views on their website.
How do ethanol fuel problems affect the fuel system?
- Reduced fuel longevity
- Lower octane rating
- Poor engine performance
- Corrosion and rust of metal parts
- Gumming up the injectors
- Clogged fuel filters
So what should you do to avoid ethanol fuel problems?
The best thing you can do is to use an Ethanol Fuel additive that will help avert all of these problems. If you don’t use your vehicle or machine very often then would be best to use a treatment that also contains a stabilizer. If you drive your vehicle and refuel regularly then you might want to use a fuel additive that will keep the engine clean and running smoothly. We review 3 of the most popular Ethanol Fuel Treatments below.
Lucas Oil Safeguard Ethanol Fuel Conditioner
Lucas Ethanol Fuel Conditioner is one of the “fan favorites” for ethanol fuel treatments. It was designed specifically to treat ethanol fuels. It is an extremely potent blend, so make sure you do the math before you use it: one ounce treats five gallons of fuel, so one bottle will treat up to 25 gallons. The conditioner works to prevent rust, stop separation, and inhibit corrosion that ethanol fuels so often cause. But unlike some of the other brands, it doesn’t stop there, it also cleans injectors, valve seats, and combustion chambers. This particular Lucas safeguard ethanol fuel conditioner is also recommended by the marine industry, as it works well with boats. If you want a fuel stabilizer for storing your fuel then you might be better using Star Tron Enzyme Fuel treatment instead, as this is specifically formulated for storage. However if you run your engine regularly and fill up your gas tank more often then we highly recommend this product.
Enzyme Fuel Treatment is our top pick because it not only cures, but it also prevents many of the problems with ethanol fuel. It removes carbon deposits, keeps your injectors clean and water including the phase separation. It can rejuvenate old fuel by restoring the octane. It is also a popular choice because it is one of the longest lasting stabilizers, lasing for up to two years. This makes it perfect for the vehicle that you might not drive all that often, but you pull it out for special occasions. It is safe to use in all engines – including 2 stroke and four stroke. Of course this also makes it a great choice for garden tools, motor cycles, boats – anything that you don’t use that often, or that can go for months without being started. It makes engine starts easy, improves fuel economy, and reduces emissions. If you are using it with small engine items such as garden tools then add the Star Tron to the can. One bottle treats about three tanks of fuel and given the quality of this treatment it’s well worth stocking up on a few bottles.
The choice of many car owners, the Sta bil ethanol treatment is added to your fuel tank to fix the damage that ethanol can do to your entire fuel system. It works by releasing a corrosion preventative vapour inside the tank. Not only is it a great anti corrosive, but it also cleans fuel injectors, carburettors, and intake valves. It helps prevent separation by removing water from the fuel. Sta- Bil Ethanol treatment can be used in a range of ethanol blends from E10 up to E85. This particular treatment can be used for vehicles that get regular use, or for engines or vehicles that are being stored, or not used very often. One treatment will be enough to stabilize your fuel for up to 12 months. 1 oz. (30mL) treats up to 5 gallons (19 liters) of fuel. For optimal protection you should use it every time you fill up. Although it can be used in any gas engine for marine vehicles you might want to try STA-BIL Marine treatment.