Those High Octane Ethanol Mandated Blues - EPautos - Libertarian Car Talk
High-octane fuel isn’t for every
need it – but others do not.
Millions of other engines.
Feeding those engines
high-octane fuel is a money-waster. High-octane “premium” fuel (which isn’t
necessarily of higher quality,
just higher octane; more about this in a moment) generally costs about 30-50
cents or more per gallon. If your car’s engine doesn’t require it, you’re
spending several dollars more for every tankful – which can amount to several
hundred dollars annually – and several thousand dollars over the 10-15 year
lifespan of a new car.
It’s also a power and mileage
waster in cars that don’t need it. Many people do not grok this, but an engine
not designed to burn high-octane fuel actually runs better (more
efficiently) on lower octane fuel.
the fuel burns at the right moment. Not too soon – or too late.
all octane is, really. A measure of a given fuel’s tendency to combust when
subjected to increasing heat and pressure.
engines – generally, high-compression engines (this includes turbocharged and
supercharged engines) – need a
fuel that won’t burn
too soon, as the result of high pressure and heat inside the engine’s cylinders
– before the
spark plug fires.
will resist combustion until the piston’s at just the right point in its travel
– and not until the ignition system fires the spark plug.
octane fuel fits that bill.
engines don’t have
high cylinder pressure (comparatively) and so don’t need high-octane gas that
is more resistant to spontaneously combusting due to high heat/pressure. They
need fuel that burns more readily at lower pressures/heat.
octane gas fits that bill.
This is why there is currently
the option to choose the fuel with the right octane rating for your particular
car’s engine. High-octane “premium” – generally, unleaded gasoline with an
octane rating of 90 or more. And “regular” – generally, unleaded gasoline with
an octane rating of 87 or so.
What if that choice were taken
away? What if you had to pump the wrong octane
fuel into your car’s tank?
effectively forced to pay extra for the fuel – as well down the road, in the
form of lower mileage?
very possibly, shorter engine life.
There’s a movement afoot whose
object is precisely that – to make high-octane (95octane) fuel the only fuel generally
available. General Motors, in particular, is hard-selling the idea – touting it
as a way to increase the power and fuel economy of new cars. Which it would . .
. assuming all new car
engines are designed to burn high-octane fuel.
what about the millions of cars still on the road powered by engines not designed for it?
apparently, do not matter.
suffer mileage (and power) reductions.
Or rather, their owners will suffer them. People who thought they’d save 30-50
cents per gallon on gas by purchasing a car that doesn’t need high-octane gas
will be in for what might as well be a major tax hike on the cost of fueling
proposal to make all gas high-octane gas will also help attrite those cars off
the road, because in all probability, more ethanol will be added to gas. And those cars
are not designed for that,
is not being talked about much in news coverage of the proposal.
ought to be.
a little background:
all unleaded gas sold in the United States is already 10 percent ethanol (“E10”).
is not a market-driven thing. It is a mandate-imposed thing. In the name of
“encouraging” (that is, forcing) people to use more “renewable” fuels, the
government created a an artificial
market for ethanol – which is certainly “renewable,” but also
other not-so-great things, including less energy dense and more expensive than
gasoline. It’s also more corrosive and it attracts moisture, not good things
it’s very profitable for the big agribusiness cartels which produce the stuff –
because we’re forced to
we may be forced to buy more of
ethanol – in addition to being “renewable” – is also used as an octane enhancer. If the
government mandates 95 octane fuel as the new mandatory minimum octane fuel
generally available, it will therefore likely mean more ethanol in our gas.
E15 – “gas” that is 15 percent ethanol. Maybe more than that.
won’t be an issue for new car engines designed for the higher octane – and for the higher
it will be Bad News for any engine not designed for either thing, especially the higher
reason the ethanol content of mainstream “gas” has so far been limited to
10 percent is because higher ethanol content will damage engines (and fuel
storage/delivery systems) not specifically designed to handle it. The stuff
accelerates rusting of gas tanks and fuel lines and can damage rubber seals and
gaskets not designed to withstand it – the latter potentially leading to fuel
leaks and fires.
cars built since the ’90s can safely use E10; but older cars (and power
equipment) sometimes have trouble because of it. Their engines – which
don’t have computer-controlled fuel injection systems – can’t adjust for the
leaner ethanol/gas mixture and so run hotter – in addition to the problems of
fuel system corrosion and seal/gasket degradation.
few cars of any vintage
– including most new/recent-model cars – are designed to handle “gas” that is
more than 10 percent ethanol. Owners of these vehicles are specifically
warned not to
use “gas” with more than 10 percent ethanol unless specifically told it’s okay. Advised
that using more than E10 if not specifically
okay’d will void the warranty and leave them holding the bag for any damage
done to the engine and related components, such as the fuel tank, fuel pump and
happens when the government makes it effectively impossible to avoid “gas”
that’s less than
E15 – 15 percent ethanol?
the agribusiness cartels which make the ethanol will make even more money, of course.
We’ll all be
buying “premium” gas – whether our cars need it or not.
car companies cash in, too – since higher concentration ethanol-spiked “gas”
will get rid of older (and paid-for) cars sooner and thus “encourage” people to
purchase new cars.
much higher cost of fuel – artificially caused – will also “encourage” people
to buy hybrids and electric cars, which use less (and no) gas at all.
are the marks at this card table.
get to pay 30-50 cents more per gallon for “premium” our cars don’t need, watch
the fuel mileage/performance of our older cars go down – and get nudged
into an “efficient” new car (or an expensive hybrid/electric car) sooner.
– leaving aside the Ethanol Interest – for what?
that the car industry can build more “efficient” (and more expensive)
high-compression engines, in order to appease Uncle’s fuel economy fatwas.
Dan Nicholson says 95 octane gas (and engines made to burn it) would achieve
a 3 percent fuel economy
improvement vs. a lower compression engine burning regular.
it be better – for us – to pay less for cars, and for gas?
but this isn’t about
what’s better for us.
that weren’t true, there would be no need for mandates, government
strong-arming. The market – people’s freely expressed buying preferences –
would sort things out naturally.
that, apparently, is the one thing which can’t be allowed.
question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and
send ’em in!
If you like
what you’ve found here, please
consider supporting EPautos.