The Problem With Ethanol: How to Protect Your Engine

protect engine car from ethanol gas

It sounds strange, but there’s corn in your gasoline—yes, the same kind you find at the dinner table.

Well, not quite the same. Ethanol is a biofuel made by distilling the sugar alcohol from corn. Proponents argue that ethanol is an environmentally cleaner burning fuel than gasoline; by some estimates, the carbon footprint of ethanol product is roughly 25% lower than gasoline.

Interestingly, ethanol has been around for longer than you might suspect: early vehicles in the late 19th century used it before gasoline became the preferred type of fuel. However, it wasn’t until the late 1970s in the United States that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began issuing legislation regarding its use.

In modern times, some states require ethanol-blended fuels while others permit gasoline distributors to choose for themselves. For example, here in Minnesota, the state defines itself as a “national leader in ethanol policy and development” and, by law, requires all gasoline sold to contain at 10% ethanol.

While ethanol use is a hotly debated political topic, we’re not here to choose sides. However, odds are you’re filling up your car or truck with an ethanol-blended fuel, and it is a fact that ethanol can have negative effects on your engine. Today’s post will discuss the pros and cons of ethanol, how it can negatively impact the performance of your vehicle, and what to do about it.

ethanol engine effects

Understanding The Pros and Cons of Ethanol

Ethanol has plenty of good things about it, but also a not-insignificant number of drawbacks—hence the debate.

Some of the pros of ethanol are…

  • Results in cleaner emissions
  • Generally requires less energy to create ethanol than gasoline (referred to by proponents as a positive energy balance)
  • Ethanol creation results in useable byproducts (e.g., livestock food products)

While the cons for drivers include…

  • Negative effects on vehicle engines (detailed in the following section)
  • Substantially lower MPG
  • Fluctuating prices which often lead to more expensive fuel

Naturally, most drivers will be most concerned with how the corrosive effects of ethanol affect their vehicles, so let’s explore that next.

The Negative Effects of Ethanol on Your Car or Truck Engine

Despite some of the positive environmental benefits of ethanol, it’s a well known fact that ethanol-blended fuels have a negative effect on engines. Ethanol is a corrosive fuel, and even when blended with gasoline (e.g., 10 or 15 percent) it can damage the components of your vehicle, especially over time.

Ethanol increases engine deposits, which negatively impact drivability, durability of components, and engine efficiency. In other words, long-term use of ethanol will slowly corrode the components of your engine, substantially lowering their operating lifespans.

The good news? There’s a simple solution…

can ethanol damage car engine

The Solution: BG’s Ethanol Fuel System Defender Service

BG’s Ethanol Fuel System Defender service is an easy, inexpensive way to prevent the negative effects of ethanol. After each oil change, your BG certified technician can install the fuel system defender product which will protect your intake manifolds, ports, valves, and combustion chambers from the corrosive effects of ethanol, thus substantially increasing their lifespan and preventing unnecessary (and significantly more expensive) repairs.

BG also offers additional products to defend against the negative effects of ethanol. Since ethanol-blended fuel is a moisture absorbent, it often leads to moisture condensation in the components of your engine. BG Ethanol Fuel System Drier is a product that helps water and moisture pass through your fuel system without collecting or causing damage to combustion.

Finally, the BG Ethanol Corrosion Preventer product can be used as a preventative measure against ethanol-blended fuel, which, depending on where you live, you must purchase at the gas station. This product prevents fuel oxidation and the formation of deposits and promotes long term stability of engine components.

Ethanol isn’t likely to go away anytime soon—so be sure to protect your engine from these problems. Without taking a proactive approach by using products specifically designed to prevent ethanol damage, your vehicle is sure to encounter problems sooner rather than later.

You’ll Stay on the Road When You Find Your Local BG Certified Auto Shop


When you choose to work with auto shops that use BG products, you know that you’re getting the best in the business. BG distributes only high end, road-tested products to auto technicians who want to provide their customers with reliable products.

Whether you’re looking to prevent damage from ethanol, keep your engine components in good working order, or you find yourself in a situation where you need speedy roadside assistance, BG has your back. Before your next service, make sure you find your local BG certified shop.

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