Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from corn and other various plant materials. Almost all gasoline in the U.S. contains at least some percentage of ethanol. (U.S. Department of Energy)
E85, a particular blend with high levels of ethanol is also available and can be used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs).
It is possible that some drivers may mistakenly fill their non-FFV vehicles with E85, which can affect the engine.
More commonly, ethanol builds up in the fuel tank over time, which is harmful to most cars.
Engine hesitation, corrosion and deposits are all potential threats. Ethanol's water-absorbing property the main culprit.
"When a certain amount of moisture is mixed with ethanol, it will actually separate from gasoline, turning the fuel into a gummy mess that cannot be burned in an internal combustion engine. The moisture can be gathered at any point of the transportation process: in the storage tank at a refinery all the way to your fuel tank." (Auto Foundry)
Select distributors treat their fuel with an additive to clean deposits left by low-quality gasoline. Fuel that contains the additive is classified as Top Tier gasoline.
But, it may be hard to find a gas station where Top Tier is available. (A Top Tier gasoline retailer list is available here.)
So, if drivers want to be proactive and protect their vehicles, what can be done?
Products are available for fuel treatment and conditioning as well as moisture removal.
Each Smail service department offers a kit with both products — Moc Ultra 85 and Moc Premium Fuel Guard — for $39.95.
It's a quick and efficient way to ensure your vehicle's engine is protected.