The risk of ethanol in fuel for classic cars

Modern fuels contain more and more ethanol. This is a big concern for classic car owners, as these fuels are not suitable for older fuel systems. In our workshop, we get to work on many cars with fuel related problems. Most of these can be tracked down to old petrol, especially in relation to a high ethanol content.

Pictured above is the top part of a Weber carburettor from an MGB. The car was parked for several years, causing severe contamination in the fuel tank and carburettor. This eventually led to clogged up needles and a leaking brass float. Luckily, replacement parts are easily available and relatively affordable. It just takes an awful lot of time to get everything working like it should...

After several months, ethanol starts to attract moisture. This will eventually lead to corrosion in your fuel tank and pipes. Old fuel evaporates into a gooey substance, clogging carburettors and injectors. The ethanol is also aggressive to certain materials used in classic car fuel systems, such as rubber, cork, copper and brass.

How to prevent these problems? Here are some tips:

  • Use petrol with the highest available octane grade (preferably 98 or higher, if available). These fuels contain less ethanol.
  • Use your classic car regularly, at least enough to refuel every 6 months.
  • Pay attention to your fuel hoses. Are they ethanol resistant? If in doubt, replace them with high quality modern rubber.
  • Replace your fuel filter regularly.
  • When storing your car long term, fill it up with high grade fuel. Try to let it run every other month and store it in low-humidity conditions.  

Want to dive deeper into this subject? Read our previous posts on classic car fuel and storage tips.

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10 winter storage tips for your classic car

Most of us treat their classic car(s) with care, like a member of the family. When autumn sets in, many classic car enthusiasts start preparations for winter storage of their vehicles. However, stagnation is deterioration. After a long uninterupted period of storage, problems may occur when spring time comes. With these tips your classic car can be taken out of storage with the least amount of problems.

 

1 - Get your hands dirty

When did you last service your car? If you choose to do this in autumn, the car will be ready to drive on the first day of spring. Old engine oil contains harmful acids that can affect the engine's internals during long periods of standstill. Brake fluid attracts moisture - old fluid causes brake parts to get stuck. Did we mention that those long and dark winter evenings are perfect for carrying out minor repairs or rebuilds?

 

2 - Get your car clean

Wash your car the old-fashioned way, with a bucket and sponge. This will help you to see minor damage or other details that require attention. Pay attention to areas where dirt and moisture accumulate, especially wheel wells and fender edges. Finish off with a good quality wax. Do not forget about the interior. Clean and treat leather upholstery with a good quality maintenance product. We prefer saddle soap and leather grease, from the equestrian shop.

 

3 - One last drive

This way you allow the water from washing the car to evaporate. Also, it is better to bring the engine to operating temperature, leaving as little condensation as possible in the engine and exhaust.

 

4 - Anti-rust treatment

Do you have the possibility to conserve your car's hollow spaces? Do it! There are all kinds of specialised rust prevention products available. Tip: a mixture of boiled linseed oil and old engine oil works perfectly well. Use an air gun with flexible hose. It's a dirty job, but well worth the effort in the long run.

 

5 - The storage location

Not everybody has the luxury of a heated garage at home. Alternatively, when you store your car in a namp shed without insulation, you classic will have a hard time. In less than ideal conditions, do as much as you can to prevent deterioration: place moisture absorbers in your car and spray some thin oil on zinc, chrome and aluminium parts. Also consider preventive measures against mice and bugs. In humid areas it may be advisable to pour some clean engine oil through the spark plug holes on the pistons. To remove excess oil after winter storage, start the car with the spark plugs removed.

6 - Petrol

The additives in modern gasoline can cause clogging in the fuel system. Also, soft parts in the carburettor or fuel pump can get affected. For a few months of storage this usually is not so bad. Modern fuels will severely drop in quality after about 6 months. To take preventive meassures, fill your car up completely with high-octane petrol with the lowest possible ethanol content. This prevents rust build up on the inside of your tank (ethanol attracts moist). If the car is put in long-term storage, more preventive measures must be taken. Aspen fuel (for chain saw engines) is much less aggressive and does not evaporate in the carburettors. If in doubt, we wrote an article about selecting the best petrol for your classic car. Read it here...

7 - The battery

Unplug the battery leads and apply some vaseline. Check the water / acid level for a non-maintenance-free battery before and after the storage period. Use a good quality slow-charger to keep the battery healthy. With a timer in your power outlet, the battery will not be continuously charged. This saves electricity and prolongs battery life. Unplug the battery and store it frost free if your car is in an unheated, uninsulated space.

 

8 - Tyres

Inflate the tyres 0.5-1 bar harder than usual. This will prevent your tyres from becoming "square". It's even better to put the axes on blocks, so that the tyres are relieved.

 

9 - Don't apply the parking brake

Put your car in gear, off the handbrake. This will prevent the brakes from getting stuck.

 

10 - Step on the clutch and brake pedal occasionally

Paying a visit to your car? Then pump your brake and clutch pedal a couple of times. This keeps everything moving and prevents the soft parts from drying out or sticking in the cylinders.

 

Still looking for storage space? At Dandy Classics, we offer year-round or seasonal storage for your classic car. Read more about our car storage options in the Netherlands...Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeinstagram