Reader Rant: Damned Ethanol Gas!

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Here’s the latest reader rant – along with my reply!

Gary writes: Just wanted to give you a heads up on my switch to ethanol-free gas. My 1987 Cougar with a V6 and my 1986 Mustang GT are both getting a non-ethanol diet and what a difference! No more stalling. That was the biggest problem with the Cougar after a cold start. Back to the Mark V that my mechanic put a one size fits all carburetor. Now he thinks it is the catalytic converters need to be cleaned. Possible but I am gun shy at this point. Time for new mechanic. I started it the other day. Terrible delay in starting. Once running, sounds great and I think a good flow out of exhaust. But did not take for ride because I know what will happen when I get to a hill. I am gonna take it slow on this one because the car is so nice. Don’t want to make another mistake. I called another guy with a good review and he said he had a carb that might fit. Red Flag. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for listening.

Hi Gary. You need a new mechanic. one does not “clean”  catalytic converters. If they are clogged, you replace them. If you car has the originals – from the factory – I would replace them regardless, because the early catalytic converters were horribly restrictive, even when they were new. Replacing them with new/high-flow converters will markedly improve power/performance and mileage.

On the carburetor issue: I strongly recommend finding someone who knows how to rebuild the factory carb – or obtain a good core (i.e., the same model carburetor that came with the car originally) and have that one rebuilt by someone competent. I would not try to force a round peg into a square hole by grafting on a generic aftermarket “replacement.”

This shouldn’t be complicated – or expensive. Assuming the carb is physically sound (i.e., the throttle shafts aren’t worn, the casting isn’t warped or otherwise damaged) a rebuild kit is about $50 or so and a competent mechanic should be able to go through the carb and bring it back to as new condition for an hour or two’s labor.

I would get in touch with other classic Lincoln owners – a quick Google search – and find some friends who know these cars and can steer you in the direction of someone who knows how to rebuild a carburetor.

Even if there’s no one local, you could box up your carb and send it off to someone like Cliff Ruggles (see here) to have it expertly rebuilt – and then either reinstall it yourself or have a competent mechanic do so. The install part is simple; anyone who can change engine oil can remove/install a carburetor.

It’s the adjustment/rebuilding that takes a little skill!

Keep us posted…

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