E10 fuel could form a ‘corrosive mixture’ in classic car fuel tanks

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Nigel Elliott, fuel specialist at the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FHBVC) has warned water could cause the petrol to “phase separate”. This will lead to a “fairly corrosive” water and ethanol mixture which could damage incompatible classic cars.

However, he said tanks may be ok if your car is fitted with a “well-maintained system”.

Speaking on the MG Car Club Podcast, Mr Elliott addressed generic classic car concerns with the new fuel.

He said: “The key here is to have a fuel system that’s in good condition that prevents any water ingress.

“Tanks will breathe normally and with natural humidity there will be a slight pickup of water.

“Because ethanol is hygroscopic it will absorb the water.

“In normal cases, at this type of tank breathing level, that will just be absorbed by the ethanol.

“There won’t be a problem with it, it will be burned in the engine and basically it will dry out the fuel system and there shouldn’t be any problems.

“The problems generally occur when there is some additional contamination, at that point you can get something called phase separation.”

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He added: “If you get 0.25 percent water in petrol, then depending on the ambient temperature it will phase separate.

“The ethanol will partition the water, leaving behind a lower octane petrol in the tank.

“You will have a fairly corrosive water/ethanol mixture in the bottom of the tank. That’s what you’ve really got to avoid.

“Under normal circumstances with a well-maintained system, regular input of fuel, it will remain dry and be ok.”

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