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Ethanol standards

Asked by Phil Crockford

I OWN a fuel-injected 1989 Range Rover V8. A while back I started to use a Caltex ethanol blend unleaded fuel sold in Cairns. Within about one month my fuel pump started to play up with an intermittent fault and the vehicle would just stop. After about two months it failed totally and was replaced. On removal it was found that the wiring loom going into the submersible pump had totally fused and the insulation had burnt off the wires inside the fuel tank. I continued to use the Caltex fuel until two months later I started to get similar problems, which eventually led to the failure of the second pump. Again the wiring loom inside the tank was totally fused together resulting in a short circuit. I made inquiries about ethanol and found out it melts some types of plastic. I phoned Caltex without response except for them to say Rover recommended the fuel blend. Rover Australia told me the opposite. I kept using the blend because I still was not sure and yes, you guessed it, another burnt-out pump. Each pump with fitting cost approx. $600. I stopped using the Caltex blend and now won't fill the car with any fuel containing ethanol. It has been nearly 18 months and I've had no problems.

Answered by CarsGuide

29 Sep 2005 Carsguide.com.au

THE problem with ethanol is that is attacks materials in the fuel system, plastics and rubber materials in particular. Engines that run on high levels of ethanol need protection and carmakers who do use it have to go to extra lengths to add that protection. The level of ethanol here in Australia is limited to 10 per cent, which shouldn't really cause you trouble, but clearly it has in this case. The answer is easy: switch to another brand that contains no ethanol.

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