Under the hood with ethanol and your classic car



September 22, 2011

Go under the hood with HVA member and veteran classic car mechanic, Ed Syrocki, in a new video that shows what ethanol related engine damage looks like in our historic cars.

Last month, the HVA turned the spotlight on the efforts of Ed Syrocki—owner of EMS Classic Car Care in Warren, Michigan—who has taken up the charge of our EthaNO campaign and embarked on a one man, grassroots mission to educate historic vehicle owners about the damage ethanol fuel is doing to their engines.

The response to that August 2011 e-newsletter article, Kernel Knowledge: One man on a mission to show how ethanol is wrecking your engine, was overwhelming with readers wanting to find out how they could personally attend one of these “show-and-tell” seminars.

From cracked and damaged fuel system parts to corroded gas tanks, Syrocki’s ethanol presentations give a detailed look under the hood that the HVA believes every historic vehicle owner should see.   In addition to the extensive ethanol resources and information the HVA has put together for our EthaNO campaign, the HVA has produced a video in partnership with Ed Syrocki.  Simply put, it’s the next best thing to attending one of Syrocki’s seminars yourself.  

Would you or your club like the in-depth, accompanying presentation that goes along with this video? Please contact us at legislative@historicvehicle.org and we’ll be happy to send it you.

Have an ethanol story to share?  Please feel free to tell us all about it in the comment section for this article or email us direct at newsletter@historicvehicle.org.

Comments

  1. Paul Fischer Pittsburgh, PA

    This has been off my radar -- looking to learn what can and must be done to combat/defeat!

  2. randydutton Washington State

    This is an EXCELLENT presentation. Every politician should be required to see it. I certainly will be forwarding this link to my representatives. Ethanol is a gift to the UAW. I firmly believe E15 was pushed by the Obama Administration to FORCE the destruction of older cars so Americans will have to buy new cars, thus enriching the unions, and impoverishing Americans. Everyone who sees ethanol as a travesty MUST support conservative politicians who vow to stop the ethanol boondoggle.

  3. Dan Western Wisconsin

    I have owned classics for over eight years now and have yet to have one single fuel-related problem. It makes me wonder how old the components shown in the video are. Some of those diaphragms looks like they're forty years old! I've also never used any fuel stabilizer over the long winters. Cars start up ever spring without fail.

  4. Bill Benenati Chesterfield, Mi.

    Just purchased a 1939 Plymouth P-8 2 door sedan. Was told the flathead six has solid lifters, and ethanol should not be a problem? Any comments or advice PLEASE? Thanks to all, Bill

  5. Don Plumb Oregon

    Recently had rust removed from clogged tank and fuel system. The tank then leaked like a sieve. Carbs plugged on 3 vehicles.

  6. Gary Moisant Beaverton Oregon

    We would be vary interested in this information. Several of our members drive early Z cars as well as Datsun Roadsters.Our Car Club is North West Z. We are in the Portland / Vancouver area. Other than fuel tank rust problems and having rubber fuel lines fail. there have been a couple of instances where the float shut off valves have failed causing and overflow. Looking forward in seeing the video. One of our Club members is the owner of ZTherapy that rebuilds S U Carburetors, I am sure he will be interested as well.

  7. Gary Western MD

    I'm with Dan on this. I have been a mechanic for 30+ yrs and have multiple antique cars, incluyding a 31 Hudson and a 67 Ply and neither have had any issues to date. Are there problems with ethanol, absolutely, but i don't believe they are to the extent to what the video shows. Any vehicle that sits is bound to have problems. I have taken many of carbs apart way before ethanol came about and have had the same issues that are potrayed in the video. Holley carb power valves have been junk from day one, a leather accelerator pump sleeve is bound to bind and sieze in the bore if not kept lubricate by the gasoline. A cork float can only last so long.. The one in my 31 hudson marvel carb is still good to date though.. Ethanol is nothing but a waste of money, less per gal, but less miles per gal. Someone in the gov got paid off by the corn farmers assoc to push this crap on the public. If we want off dino oil, then natural gas and hydrogen is the way to go. Don't burn your food !!!

  8. Gary Western MD

    I'm with Dan on this. I have been a mechanic for 30+ yrs and have multiple antique cars, incluyding a 31 Hudson and a 67 Ply and neither have had any issues to date. Are there problems with ethanol, absolutely, but i don't believe they are to the extent to what the video shows. Any vehicle that sits is bound to have problems. I have taken many of carbs apart way before ethanol came about and have had the same issues that are potrayed in the video. Holley carb power valves have been junk from day one, a leather accelerator pump sleeve is bound to bind and sieze in the bore if not kept lubricate by the gasoline. A cork float can only last so long.. The one in my 31 hudson marvel carb is still good to date though.. Ethanol is nothing but a waste of money, less per gal, but less miles per gal. Someone in the gov got paid off by the corn farmers assoc to push this crap on the public. If we want off dino oil, then natural gas and hydrogen is the way to go. Don't burn your food !!!

  9. Gary Hagerstown Md

    I'm with Dan on this. I have been a mechanic for 30+ yrs and have multiple antique cars, incluyding a 31 Hudson and a 67 Ply and neither have had any issues to date. Are there problems with ethanol, absolutely, but i don't believe they are to the extent to what the video shows. Any vehicle that sits is bound to have problems. I have taken many of carbs apart way before ethanol came about and have had the same issues that are potrayed in the video. Holley carb power valves have been junk from day one, a leather accelerator pump sleeve is bound to bind and sieze in the bore if not kept lubricate by the gasoline. A cork float can only last so long.. The one in my 31 hudson marvel carb is still good to date though..

  10. H. James Gaugler Jr. Pa.

    Old cars are far from being junk!!!!!!!

  11. Bill Olson Slidell, LA

    We hear about and see the problems that ethanol can cause, but what, other than complaining about it, can we do? Ther are a few gas stations that claim "no ethanol" but can you trust them! And does the Sta-Bil stuff work? Is there anything else out there?

  12. Philippe Mission Viejo, CA

    Oh horrors! But I've seen a lot of this myself. I can't claim that ethanol is definitely to blame for the hardened fuel pump diaphrams, sticky carbs and float pins, and sticky fuel pump valves, but I do know that even my twenty-year-old lawn mower developed the same symptoms in the past few years, despite my cleaning out the entire fuel system, the carburettor kept forming weird deposits and sticky films that eventually resulted in my getting rid of it. I certainly hope my cars won't suffer the same fate!

  13. RICK YOUNG IOWA

    So you would rather burn fuel tainted with the blood of american soldiers? I have burned E-15 for 10 years in my 63 with no problems.

  14. RICK YOUNG IOWA

    So you would rather burn fuel tainted with the blood of american soldiers? I have burned E-15 for 10 years in my 63 with no problems.

  15. David Enders California

    It's real simple. Ethanol absorbs water for the air. This puts water in your fuel tank, carb, fuel lines, ect. Water is hard on zinc, aluminum, steel and other parts of your vechicles fuel system. Replacing fuel lines with ethanol resistant hoses is a start. Coating the interior of the fuel tanks is another. Any racer that uses alcohol in their race car never leaves fuel in the system after a race or allows their supply to be exposed to the elements for any length of time. As for rubber parts it's time for the manufacturies that make these parts to step-up and make ethanol resistant parts(maybe they can't do that in China). It seems to me that there is a market here for someone to jump on and not just sit around and winne about ethanol in the gas. The fact is these systems with now require more maintence that before so as they say, Just Do It!

  16. Frank Western, MA

    Another issue with using ethanol in gasoline is that it increases the fuel consumption per mile due to the difference in air ratio that ethanol needs to stay in its cumbustive range. It may help gasoline burn cleaner, but at the same time increases the volume of emissions created. Is there any benefit gained by this?

  17. Ron Komishock Conyngham, Pa.

    Had 3 fuel pump failures in 2 different classics. One pump was a new mechanical where the diaphragm and check valves were eroded by the ethanol. The other two were electric fuel pump that were relatively new. In both cases the pumps just ceased to provide adequate fuel delivery without any warning.

  18. Fred Warren South carolina

    What short memories we have. Does no one remember the problems in the 70's with Gasohol, or the high performance Olds engines with the positive valve rotators and their interesting behavior when lead was removed from fuel? How about the pre-gasohol fuel hoses? Has anyone discovered the pleasure of ethanol reaction with fiberglass or resin fuel cells? Check back issues of the Boat U.S. magazine for examples of life in the corn maze lane.

  19. Bill Webster West memphis, AR

    Excellent demonstration. With over 40 years experience working with large and small engines and fuel systems, I can attest to the damage wreaked by ethanol fuels. The diaphragms and primer bulbs turn crispy within two years on string-trimmers and leaf blowers. Float bowls and jets accumulate varnish very quickly and float valves with soft (rubber) seats swell, changing the float setting. Prior to ethanol, corrosion was not as common and varnish from very old fuel was the usual problem. I just replaced the rubber fuel lines (front and rear) and fuel pump diaphragms on my 66 Vette. They were rock hard. The connecting hoses between the fuel pump and the carburetor were so bad that fuel was spraying out. Pay attention those hoses!

  20. Bill Webster West memphis, AR

    Excellent demonstration. With over 40 years experience working with large and small engines and fuel systems, I can attest to the damage wreaked by ethanol fuels. The diaphragms and primer bulbs turn crispy within two years on string-trimmers and leaf blowers. Float bowls and jets accumulate varnish very quickly and float valves with soft (rubber) seats swell, changing the float setting. Prior to ethanol, corrosion was not as common and varnish from very old fuel was the usual problem. I just replaced the rubber fuel lines (front and rear) and fuel pump diaphragms on my 66 Vette. They were rock hard. The connecting hoses between the fuel pump and the carburetor were so bad that fuel was spraying out. Pay attention those hoses!

  21. Bob Schmidt Beach Haven NJ

    Enjoyed reading all comment's. I sold my boat 5 years a go. You may want to contact a few marina.Boat people are having problems with ethanol.Years ago I raced go cart's some ran on gas others ran on fuel,the ones running on fuel you had to purchase different seals and gaskets.I have a1947 Ford with a flathead so far no problems. Keep up the good work it is enjoyed by all collector's Thank Bob Schmidt

  22. Lisa West Michigan

    No issues with our classic cars so far, but we are very concerned as we've witnessed the corrosiveness of corn first hand. We used to heat our home with corn back when corn prices were $3-4/bushell. After 3 heating seasons the double wall stainless steel exhaust pipe needed replacing due to severe corrosion (holes). The burning chamber itself is so rusty, we're not sure how much longer the unit itself will be usable. With corn prices approaching $8/bushell, it's not an viable heating option anymore anyway.

  23. Lisa West Michigan

    No issues with our classic cars so far, but we are very concerned as we've witnessed the corrosiveness of corn first hand. We used to heat our home with corn back when corn prices were $3-4/bushell. After 3 heating seasons the double wall stainless steel exhaust pipe needed replacing due to severe corrosion (holes). The burning chamber itself is so rusty, we're not sure how much longer the unit itself will be usable. With corn prices approaching $8/bushell, it's not an viable heating option anymore anyway.

  24. Brian RI

    Ethanol sucks. I have an old motorcycle that's been in storage since before Ethanol was put in gasoline, so I've never ran Etahnol through it. However, I doubt very much that any politicians care one little bit about some of us with older vehicles. It's the brand new cars and the cars produced in the future that they care about. This video is good, but it wouldn't influence the politicians in DC at all. Ethanol is here to stay for a while, unfortunately.

  25. Brian RI

    Ethanol sucks. I have an old motorcycle that's been in storage since before Ethanol was put in gasoline, so I've never ran Etahnol through it. However, I doubt very much that any politicians care one little bit about some of us with older vehicles. It's the brand new cars and the cars produced in the future that they care about. This video is good, but it wouldn't influence the politicians in DC at all. Ethanol is here to stay for a while, unfortunately.

  26. Brian RI

    Ethanol sucks. I have an old motorcycle that's been in storage since before Ethanol was put in gasoline, so I've never ran Etahnol through it. However, I doubt very much that any politicians care one little bit about some of us with older vehicles. It's the brand new cars and the cars produced in the future that they care about. This video is good, but it wouldn't influence the politicians in DC at all. Ethanol is here to stay for a while, unfortunately.

  27. Bob DE

    Ok, we see the potential problems, which I greatly appreciate, but is the solution, besides regular maintenance and checking of lines and hoses?? Thanks

  28. Richard Buckingham, Jr. Seattle, WA

    I am trying to keep an open mind on this subject. I have a 1973 Lancia Fulvia and have had to use ethanol enhanced fuel. So far NO problems but I only put about 2000 miles per year on the car so far that isn't a lot of exposure. If the ethanol enhanced fuel does damage my rare and valuable car, I will be PISSED!

  29. RLK South Dakota

    1. Ethanol is an american-made RENEWABLE fuel that is being produced to offset foreign oil. This country was founded and grew strong becasue of our independence, not our financial dependence on other countries. 2. the myth: E-15 is not a mandate its a choice! no one is forcing you to use it. E-15 will become the maximum blending % from EPA. 3. We currently own a 1971 VW beetle and a 1964 356C Porsche with some minor jetting adjustments, we have been running E-10 for 2 years with no issues. 4. We are currently working on rejetting both to E-30 and ultimately to E-85.

  30. Julian Crowder Asheville, N.C.

    In addition to collector cars, I also have collector motorcycles. I used to store the motorcycles for a year or two with gasolene and almost immediately start them up. I have had to spend over $600 on two motorcycles that were stored for a year and a half with ethanol in them. The gas tanks rusted and the "gas" that was still in them was the consistancy of syrup. Needless to say, the carbs were screwed up too. Our American ethanol is inefficient, decreases mileage, takes more energy to produce than is returned, raises the costs of grain and virtually all food stuffs related to grain. Our ethanol is a farce.

  31. Dennis Northern New York

    In my experiance (Dan from Western Wisconsin and the othe na sayers) ethinol will ruin a car in as little as 1 year. Belive me. it's happened to me. Fuel lines harden up and carburetors "rot" from the waqter atracted. The other side is that because so much corn is being sold for etinol producton, it'd driving food prices up since this also efects the price of feed. I too think this is a grand plot by our government (and not just this administration) to empoverish the American people so they can control us. We ar fortunate that there is a station close by that stocks gas WITHOUT ethinol. Sorry for any mis-spelled words, I get pretty worked up.

  32. Garry Arizona

    Basically "ethanol sucks", last year I put a new engine in my wifes Mustang, all parts on the engine are brand new, not remans. including the gas tank and lines. filled it with the "crap gas" and drove the car for only about 8 miles, We left for awhile (4 months), when we retuned the Mustang would not start without pouring gas into the carb, finally after removing the brand new fuel pump and placing it in the vice, I found all the internal parts of the mechanical pump were frozen ( seized). An inspection of the new gas tank also revealed a coating of corrosion looking crap. Those of you who haven't had trouble yet? don't worry your time's coming. I can't believe NASCAR's even promoting this crap.

  33. Gary Holmes Left Coast

    Aside from the obvious poorer gas mileage, today's summer fuels with ethanol don't seem to be too bad. The real problem occurs when engines sit with fuel in them for long periods of time. Some gas stabilizers tend to help but at some point in the long term the alcohol/gasoline blend will break down and separate. Once this happens the components cannot be recombined. The components mix with water in the air and form a very corrosive liquid that damages the fuel system. The way around this is to either buy ethanol free gasoline (ONLY ONE place in California sells it and that's at a boat marina on a lake) - or don't store a vehicle with any gasoline in it (or gas cans) - especially over winter. This is especially true for garden equipment, boats or anything with a gasoline engine. More information can be obtained at BOAT US... they have a web site.

  34. Gary Holmes Left Coast

    Aside from the obvious poorer gas mileage, today's summer fuels with ethanol don't seem to be too bad. The real problem occurs when engines sit with fuel in them for long periods of time. Some gas stabilizers tend to help but at some point in the long term the alcohol/gasoline blend will break down and separate. Once this happens the components cannot be recombined. The components mix with water in the air and form a very corrosive liquid that damages the fuel system. The way around this is to either buy ethanol free gassoline (ONLY ONE place in California sells it and that's at a boat marina on a lake) - or don't store a vehicle with any gasoline in it (or gas cans) - especially over winter. This is especially true for garden equipment, boats or anything with a gasoline engine. More information can be obtained at BOAT US... they have a web site.

  35. Gary Holmes Left Coast

    I used to have a 1959 Lancia Appia. Strangest car I've ever owned - V4 "Hemi" engine... four speed on the column - four door that open up so there is NO post between the doors when all are open. Not a bad car - just strange. I sold it off. Now I have a 1973 Mazda RX-2 rotary Coupe and have some fuel issues and diaphragm problems. A Racing Beat Manifold w/Holley 4 barrel should fix that. Also a 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger - no fuel problems with it - all original and driven frequently. My 1955 Willys Wagon has no fuel issues other than the vent for the fuel tank constantly dribbles on hot days anytime the tank is over half full. Any ideas? It's not a stock tank (or is anything else).

  36. db Mich.

    "Ethanol is a gift to the UAW. I firmly believe E15 was pushed by the Obama Administration to FORCE the destruction of older cars so Americans will have to buy new cars, thus enriching the unions, and impoverishing Americans. Everyone who sees ethanol as a travesty MUST support conservative politicians who vow to stop the ethanol boondoggle" This statement is pure ignorance. E15 came about long before Obama was President.

  37. eddie east rockaway ny

    i use a product called gas skok in my 3 classic cars no problem's

  38. Dan Indiana

    Having been a mechanic for over 40 years , I can say that there is some problems with ethonol (especially summer blends. My expierences with my collector cars are as follows. if the car sits for a week the carb dries out , this requires excessive cranking or either spray. Second if parked with a full tank in 2 weeks a noticeable amount has evaporated especially in hot weather. On my hudson I have a electric pump behind the mechanical pump. One week end i tried to start it for a little drive. Surprise neither fuel pump worked, the electric was relatively new , the mechanical i expected to fail at any time. I got the electrical working by turning it on and lightly tapping it with a wrench. knock on wood it has worked for several weeks , a new mechanical pump is on its way. My 1940 buick had its entire fuel system rebuilt 2 years ago, at times fuel issues seem to give it ghostly problems. The Buick and hudson bog and hesitate when the fuel level drops below half tank. Both recieved fresh tune ups. My old gmc, has required excessive cranking because I drive it the least. The starter is requiring an early replacement as well as the battery. My vintage 70 vette is sitting with a new gas tank and a bad fuel pump. The rest of my cars as well as my motor cycle have not displayed any more problems so far this year except the excessive cranking and the need to keep burning fuel through as it seems the fuel goes bad much faster. I have used stable in the storage months, all driving season I add one and a half ounces of my fuel mix to 5 gallons of gas which seems to lessen not eliminate the problems. My mix is one third stable one third marvel one third lead additive. The need for more attention and maintenance is definately there. As well as the cost for rare parts.

  39. Alvin Shier Alberta, Canada

    Where is the real truth here? Reading these comments does nothing but confuse. Some have no problem, some can't even start the car after it sits a week. I'm waiting for the real non-biased study on this. When?

  40. Curtis SoCal

    First problem here is very few people know the difference between ethanol and methanol. Both have been used as gasolene additives. Methanol is very corrosive and can damage rubber & plastic. It is also poisonous. Ethanol is "grain alcohol" and is the exact same alcohol in beer, wine, whiskey, etc. So how bad can that be? It is also what you buy in a can of "gas line antifreeze". It will absorb water condensate in fuel, allowing it to pass through to the engine and be burned and eliminated. Otherwise, water condensate will sit in the bottom of a fuel tank and rust it, and can get in the fuel line where it can freeze and stop the fuel flow. Alcohol additives also loosen gunky sludge formed by gas in old fuel systems, which can then clog a carb or filter. Start with a clean tank, and change the fuel filter when needed. This is not rocket science, but it does help to understand just what the problem is. I do not think the guy in the video knows the difference between ethanol and methanol. I burn 10% ethanol all the time in my 1920's, '30's, '40's, '50's, '60's cars & trucks with no problem, but NO WAY would I put methanol in my tank.

  41. Curtis SoCal

    First problem here is very few people know the difference between ethanol and methanol. Both have been used as gasolene additives. Methanol is very corrosive and can damage rubber & plastic. It is also poisonous. Ethanol is "grain alcohol" and is the exact same alcohol in beer, wine, whiskey, etc. So how bad can that be? It is also what you buy in a can of "gas line antifreeze". It will absorb water condensate in fuel, allowing it to pass through to the engine and be burned and eliminated. Otherwise, water condensate will sit in the bottom of a fuel tank and rust it, and can get in the fuel line where it can freeze and stop the fuel flow. Alcohol additives also loosen gunky sludge formed by gas in old fuel systems, which can then clog a carb or filter. Start with a clean tank, and change the fuel filter when needed. This is not rocket science, but it does help to understand just what the problem is. I do not think the guy in the video knows the difference between ethanol and methanol. I burn 10% ethanol all the time in my 1920's, '30's, '40's, '50's, '60's cars & trucks with no problem, but NO WAY would I put methanol in my tank.

  42. Curtis SoCal

    First problem here is very few people know the difference between ethanol and methanol. Both have been used as gasolene additives. Methanol is very corrosive and can damage rubber & plastic. It is also poisonous. Ethanol is "grain alcohol" and is the exact same alcohol in beer, wine, whiskey, etc. So how bad can that be? It is also what you buy in a can of "gas line antifreeze". It will absorb water condensate in fuel, allowing it to pass through to the engine and be burned and eliminated. Otherwise, water condensate will sit in the bottom of a fuel tank and rust it, and can get in the fuel line where it can freeze and stop the fuel flow. Alcohol additives also loosen gunky sludge formed by gas in old fuel systems, which can then clog a carb or filter. Start with a clean tank, and change the fuel filter when needed. This is not rocket science, but it does help to understand just what the problem is. I do not think the guy in the video knows the difference between ethanol and methanol. I burn 10% ethanol all the time in my 1920's, '30's, '40's, '50's, '60's cars & trucks with no problem, but NO WAY would I put methanol in my tank.

  43. Bob York, PA

    I have a '67 Satellite that's been the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned. Since running the ethanol gas, performance has suffered. New gas tank, carb, rubber lines, filter and all was well. Several months later, it's sitting in the garage with the same issues. My '39 Dodge Street Rod was loads of fun till it developed fuel problems. Replaced the fuel pump, rubber lines, fuel filter, and carb and it fired right up and ran great! Three days of Street Rod Nats fun and on the way home it started to falter. Fuel filter was full of dark brown matter that resembled shellac. Looking for a gas tank. Been using Star Tron product but maybe it was too late.

  44. dowop albany ny

    we found owners of model A's up to 1970's cars have had no problems at all due to the fuel. in fact one of our members just turned 100,000 miles on his 57ford and has never put any additives in the vehicle at all...ever!

  45. Jannika This aritlce is a home run, pure and simple!

    This aritlce is a home run, pure and simple!

  46. Larry 48170

    Is this video referring to use of E85 or regular/premium gasoline with 10% Ethenol?