What a Porsche Owner Needs to Know About 15% Ethanol Gasoline
Posted by: David Hurth / Category: Commentary, News, Porsche
Not very long ago the EPA OK’d 15% ethanol in gasoline. They originally OK’d it in 2010, but a class action law suite delayed this. Unfortunately, they ultimately have been able to get it OK’d. It is debatable if adding ethanol in gasoline does more good than harm to both the environment and to your car. Because of the harm that this gas can do to your car, I decided to look into what can be done to avoid it and why it is so bad for some cars. I also, wanted to see what could be done to mitigate the effects of this on an old Porsche (like my daily driver which is a 1983 Porsche 944).
Manufactures of various automobiles have come out saying that cars older than 2001 should not use the 15% ethanol gasoline blend (with some voiding any warranties on the car if the 15% blend is used on even some cars newer than 2001).
The reason for this is that these fuel systems where not designed for ethanol use. Because they weren’t designed for it, many parts of the fuel system (especially rubber parts) can begin to fail due to the use of this fuel. Beyond this, if a car is not ran very often (for example a car that is mainly driven on the weekends) the ethanol can cause condensation to form in the gas tank and we all know water in your gas is never a good thing.
So, what can we that own an older Porsche do to keep our cars from having trouble with this new higher ethanol fuel?
First find out if your State makes gas stations put a notice if their fuel contains ethanol.
Some states (such as California, where I live) do not require any notice that Gasoline contains ethanol (because of this most stations in the state do contain ethanol). Other states do require a notice although some states only require it if the ethanol level is over a certain percentage. If you live in a state that doesn’t require notice, you can purchase a testing system that will let you know if your gas does contain ethanol (I haven’t used any of these personally, so can’t recommend one). You can find a list of states that require ethanol labeling here (this site sells an ethanol tester, but I have never used it or bought from the site, so I can’t recommend this tester).
If you live near water and are not able to get ethanol free gasoline at any local gas stations, you may be able to get it at a local marina gas location. Boaters have been very successful in keeping ethanol out of their gas, so most locations designed for filling up boats will not have any ethanol in the gas.
If you can’t get gas without ethanol anywhere near you, try to do a few things to keep the affects on your car to a minimum. First, use an ethanol gas additive. These additives will help reduce the wear of components not designed for ethanol (Sta-Bil makes a very good ethanol treatment that I have used and it appears to have worked well). You may also want to buy your gasoline from a gas station that uses good additives. For example the Techron in Chevron gasoline may help reduce the affects of ethanol by reducing the affects of any condensation that forms in your gasoline.
Another thing to do is to not have your car sit for too long. By at least starting the car every couple of days you will help reduce the chance of condensation building up in your fuel. Ideally a tank of gas will not sit in your car for more than 3 weeks as this helps reduce the affects on your gas tank elements. Higher octane gas will also provide some protection from water contamination in your gas (some people also recommend an octane additive to further compensate for this).
Other things that can be done to deal with ethanol can get a bit pricey, but may be worth it in the long run. You can replace any wear parts in the fuel system or engine with parts designed for gas with ethanol in it. One problem with this is that parts designed to use ethanol may not currently exist for cars like an older Porsche, so you may opt to just replace the part with a new part to replace parts that will wear out more quickly when running ethanol. For example it is probably a good idea to replace all rubber fuel lines as these can get hard and wear very quickly. The fuel filter also may need to be changed more often when running fuel with ethanol in it.
The last thing that could be done would be to embrace ethanol gasoline. By this I mean convert your car to run on E85. The conversion isn’t the cheapest thing, but you normally pay much less for the E85 fuel.
The biggest problem with this is that E85 is not available in all areas, so you would need to live near an E85 station and not take any trips without planning your route based on E85 stations.
Ethanol gasoline is one of those things that there is only so much that we can do to stay away from. However, by following the above tips you should be able to keep your Porsche running happily even with gas that contains ethanol.
Do you have any tips to help keep an older car running well on gas containing ethanol? If so, let us know in the comments below.