Leno Roasts Costly Ethanol Mandate

Jay Leno has some harsh words for ethanol lobbyists: “big growers of corn have sold us a bill of goods.” Writing for Autoweek.com, the former Tonight Show host, who collects and restores vintage cars, discussed how ethanol can damage vehicles and foul up engines:

As someone who collects old cars, and keeps them up religiously, I am now replacing fuel-pressure regulators every 12 to 18 months. New cars are equipped with fuel lines that are resistant to ethanol damage, but with older cars, the worst can happen—you’re going down the road, and suddenly your car is on fire.


Ethanol will absorb water from ambient air. In a modern vehicle, with a sealed fuel system, ethanol fuel has a harder time picking up water from the air. But in a vintage car, the water content of fuel can rise, causing corrosion and inhibiting combustion.

It gets worse. Ethanol is a solvent that can loosen the sludge, varnish and dirt that accumulate in a fuel tank. That mixture can clog fuel lines and block carburetor jets.

Blame the Renewable Fuel Standard.

As Leno explains, the RFS requires fuel refiners to blend rising amounts of ethanol and other biofuels into gasoline. Currently, the ethanol content of regular gasoline is 10 percent, which is safe for use in most modern vehicles. Older vehicles, however, were not designed to run on gasoline that contains ethanol. That spells trouble for anyone trying to maintain an older car, as well as people who own boats, motorcycles, and lawnmowers—those small engines are also not equipped to handle ethanol in gasoline.

The RFS could also soon harm the hundreds of millions of Americans who drive regular cars, trucks, and SUVs. As the RFS mandate rises, refiners could soon be required to blend gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol. But the vast majority of passenger vehicles are not certified to use gasoline that contains more than 10 percent ethanol, according to AAA. In other words, Jay Leno’s problems could soon become yours.

Click here to read “10 Reasons Why Congress Should Repeal the RFS.”

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