Fuel Tips: Ethanol or Not?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
May 28, 2019 | Sunoco, Fuel Tips | Posted in Podcast | Never miss an article

There’s been a lot of chatter in recent years surrounding ethanol-blended fuels now that they’re the standard. Are these fuels killing our cars or helping us make more power? As usual, the answer is “it depends.”

More Power Potential:

Fuels containing alcohol have the potential to generate more horsepower since they burn more quickly, explains Zachary Santner, technical specialist at Sunoco Race Fuels. “The science says that the E15 is worth it because the fuel contains more oxygen.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that running an oxygenated fuel will instantly increase power. However, an engine can be tuned to take advantage of that alcohol–and that’s why it’s a component of many race fuels.

Sunoco’s popular 260 GT Plus contains 13 percent alcohol, and the product description includes a bit of a heads-up: “Due to its high oxygen content, an increase in fuel flow is required to utilize the full potential of 260 GT Plus compared to conventional non-oxygenated fuels.”

Need even more alcohol? Sunoco’s Green E15, the spec fuel used for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, contains 15 percent of it. “When NASCAR switched from a non-ethanol fuel to Sunoco Green E15,” Santner says, “all the teams were able to pick up horsepower.”

More Moisture, Too:

Alcohol has a downside, too. Over time it will absorb humidity from the air and draw moisture into the fuel system. As many classic car owners have learned, that moisture can and will play havoc with carburetors, fuel pumps and other components. It’s not pretty, as things corrode and get wonky.

Some corner stations carry non-ethanol fuel. It’s not a common item, but pure-gas.org offers a directory.

If you need a non-ethanol fuel sporting more octane than the usual, there’s also Sunoco’s 260 GTX. It’s a 98-octane unleaded race fuel that works well in high-compression, smaller-bore engines. Sunoco also recommends 260 GTX for forced induction. Note that legally, this non-ethanol product can’t be sold for street use.

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Comments
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te72
te72 Reader
5/28/19 11:06 p.m.

Part of me wants to run E85, simply to make up some low end torque, the other part of me realizes that I really don't need any more power than it makes anywhere above the low end...

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