TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (October 2006) – As part of its ongoing commitment to serving the collector car hobby, Hagerty is launching new web resources to address the growing concerns over ethanol-blended fuels and their possible effects on collector vehicles. Reaching out to car clubs, industry advocates, parts manufacturers and ethanol producers for the latest up-to-date information today’s hobbyists need, Hagerty’s new web page (www.hagerty.com/ethanol) will be available beginning at the end of October 2006.
While there are no clear cut answers as to which vehicles are most apt to be affected or exactly what damage could be expected, all vehicles built before the mid-eighties may be subject to risk.
“When it comes to resources on ethanol, there’s a void of information for the collector car hobbyist,” says Rory Carroll, Hagerty’s Legislative Resource Director. “That’s why we’ve decided to get involved, providing as much accurate and detailed information as possible to assist collectors and encouraging a productive dialogue on the topic.”
The new Hagerty web page provides information on how to protect vehicles from potential harm, outlines where collectors can find ethanol-compatible replacement parts and catalogs locations where hobbyists can purchase ethanol-free fuels in their geographic regions. There are links to studies conducted on the use of ethanol-blended fuel in older engines, and a page where visitors can post photos and anecdotes about their experiences with ethanol-based fuels and suggest possible solutions to typical problems fellow hobbyists might encounter.
Ethanol is grain alcohol derived from corn, switchgrass, sugarcane and other sources. When denatured for use as a motor fuel, it is commonly mixed with regular gasoline in varying quantities. These ethanol/gasoline blends are commonly referred to by the letter “E,” denoting ethanol followed by a number indicating the percentage of fuel by volume that is ethanol.
The highly publicized E-85 blend is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent unleaded gasoline. However, E-85 is only suitable for engines specifically designed or modified to run on it. “Another problem we’re seeing is a lot of states and metropolitan areas moving to an E-10 standard, and this worries a lot of owners. We’re not here to cause a panic or an outcry against ethanol. We simply want to be a source of information; we want to make sure hobbyists are well informed.”
According to Hagerty, hobbyists are concerned because ethanol has been shown to contribute to the deterioration of rubber and certain metals, even in small concentrations. Ethanol readily absorbs and retains water, and it conducts electricity. These factors may contribute to corrosion.
In addition to fuel system problems encountered with older automotive engines, there are some ethanol issues unique to boats. “Fiberglass fuel tanks may begin to deteriorate, producing a ‘sludge’ which can damage engine components,” says Carroll. “Left unchecked, a fiberglass fuel tank could dissolve and fail. Hobbyists need to have all of the facts so they can take the appropriate actions to maintain their cars, trucks and boats properly.”
Hagerty is the leading insurance agency for collector vehicles and boats in the nation, and host to the largest network of collector car owners. Hagerty offers collector car and boat insurance, financing and roadside assistance, as well as a variety of useful information resources. The company works proactively on hobby legislation and supports the Collectors Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preservation of the hobby. For more information, call 800-922-4050 or visit www.hagerty.com.