Throughout Europe, debates rage regarding increasing ethanol content in petrol and how it affects our classic vehicles.
What is certain is that we enthusiastic users of ancient cars and bikes must now be more vigilant regarding the effects of ethanol within the fuel systems of such vehicles.
Rubber and ethanol are not the best of friends, meaning that older specification hoses and components are prone to more rapid degradation, with potentially dreadful consequences.
If your classic vehicle’s fuel hoses are not to at least ‘r9’ specification, they should be replaced with good quality, ethanol resistant components, as soon as possible, along with other non-ethanol resistant fuel system components. Do beware of fakes!
Don’t be tempted to do this work in your cosy, enclosed workspace. Petrol is tricky stuff.
Ethanol is hygroscopic and so absorbs water, which can lead to fuel tanks and other steel components in classic vehicles, with water sitting in them. This encourages corrosion and failure.
Drain the fuel tank, if the vehicle is going to be left unused for a few months. There’s little else that can be done to avoid this increased corrosion potential, although, currently, Esso ‘Supreme’ petrol has little or no ethanol content in most of the country (Devon, Cornwall, Teeside and Scotland’s Esso Supreme does contain ethanol), so an end of season complete fill with this fuel offers a solution.
Storage petrol is on the horizon, so look out for this, as it will be one available from specialist suppliers.
However, if the vehicle is going to be used for a good, tank draining run, using up the ethanol-rich fuel should see the water content burnt off in the combustion chambers, hence the term ‘dry fuel’ used by the boating community.
What better excuse to use for giving your classic a good old run?
Back to those hoses; if in doubt, change them out. And if you’re restoring a classic vehicle, have the tank professionally lined with an ethanol resistant lining.
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