New fuel no threat to most older cars
I read that ethanol will cause the seals in the gasoline lines to start rupturing and leaking in any car built before 1997. I have a Corvette that I bought 30 years ago. It's an excellent car. Will the ethanol ruin my car? Will I have to give up my car just for the environment?
Answer: The answers, generally, are no and no.
But there are many factors to consider when dealing with a classic, or just plain older, automobile, including the condition of your specific car.
You can get answers to ethanol-related questions by calling the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's hot line, 587-3814 on Oahu, or by going to its Web site, new-fuel.com.
The department also has a brochure that specifically sets out to answer questions like yours, as well as to dispel many myths, called "Changes in Gasoline and the Classic Auto."
Regarding materials used in older vehicles, for example, the brochure says: "Obviously the fuel system materials used in late model vehicles are dramatically improved compared to the original equipment used in vintage/classic vehicles. Older fuel systems could contain natural rubber or synthetic rubber much less compatible with today's fuels ... Usually, however, older cars have already had most fuel system components replaced."
Rather than the type of fuel involved -- and considering that ethanol has been in widespread use in most parts of the United States for decades -- the storage of fuel may be the more important issue when it comes to older vehicles, said Maria Tome, an alternative energy engineer with DBEDT.
Many experts she's talked with "emphasized the importance of maintaining fuel quality and freshness and advised against storing fuel for longer than about two months," she said.
Basically, "You don't want to let your car sit with a tank of fuel of any type for too long, because fuel does degrade."
Ethanol is a normal component of gasoline all over the country, Tome said, and should now be in most of the gasoline sold in Hawaii.
Reports of compliance with the new state law, which required that 85 percent of the gasoline used in Hawaii contain 10 percent ethanol beginning April 2, aren't due to be sent to the state until May. But industry officials have indicated ethanol has been blended into regular gasoline since March, Tome said.
To a young lady who helped me on April 7, as I was searching for an entry to a shop inside Puck's Alley on University Avenue. I am 86, using a walker, and was tiring fast when she came from inside a market to offer help. She used her cell phone to locate the shop and insisted on walking me to its door. Hers is the aloha I have most often seen since coming to the islands more than 50 years ago -- where people drop their personal affairs to spontaneously help someone in need. Ho'omaika'i Poina'ole (an unforgettable kindness). -- Grace
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