Do Additives In Gasoline Help Classic Cars?

Automotive Blog

Classic car owners, take heart: the dropping price of fuel means more money in the pocket for other automotive necessities. Like that bright red leather interior to go with the new paint job you just gave your '66 convertible, for instance. But the next time that polished baby of yours needs another tank of gas, think carefully about the fuel you use and what you add to it. The additives put in gasoline that make today's cars purr like well-fed lions may make your car sound more like an asthmatic with tuberculosis.

Here's what to consider when gassing up for the road:

Sittin' Pretty

If the car only gets out for some fresh air once in a while and spends the remainder of its time in solitary confinement, so to speak, then adding a fuel stabilizer to the tank would be a good idea, especially if the car will sit for more than six months at a time or be put away for the winter. A fuel stabilizer will help prevent the fuel from degrading and also prevent Ethanol additives from damaging the engine and fuel system. Translation? Your car will have an easier time starting up no matter when you turn that key next time, be it tomorrow or next March.

Low Standards

Older cars were built long before all the hullabaloo over ethanol and octane ratings, but just because yesteryear's cars weren't built to run on newer fuels doesn't mean they can't. However, it seems like the newer the car, the higher the octane rating needed to fuel it up. By that logic then, the older the car, the lower the octane rating needed. Right? Well, no. Octane rating is determined more by the compression ratio of the car than by the age of it. The good news is that most manuals already have the compression ratio worked out for the humble car owner, so all you have to do is look it up.

But if you're still not sure, then the old trial-and-error method may work well for you. Simply start with the lowest octane-rated fuel available. If your car runs fine, then great. However, if you start to hear a knocking or pinging sound, that could be a sign that the fuel/air mix is detonating -- exploding in the combustion chamber, rather than allowing the spark plugs to do their job of igniting the fuel -- which decreases the efficiency of the engine and increases the chances of something getting damaged. Try the next higher octane rating. That usually solves a lot of problems.

Put What Where?

Just like Preparation-H can be used to remove puffiness and dark circles from underneath the eyes, it appears that some automotive fluids have uses beyond their original purpose. Such is the case with automatic transmission fluid (ATF), which some people swear works well to de-gunk the engine as well as lubricate the upper cylinder when added to fuel. However, there is no definitive proof that it does any good for the system. Of course, there's no proof that it does any harm, either, so the choice is yours.

Fuel additives may or may not work, depending on whom you ask. The bottom line is this: If you maintain your car well, the only thing that adding anything extra to the fuel will accomplish is removing money from your wallet. However, if, despite your best efforts, you think your car needs a little something extra to make it run better, then it might be worth trying one of the plethora of additives out there. For more information, contact a business such as Central Ave Auto Body.


9 April 2015

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