Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Kenny asks: I noticed that my local Maverick gas station sells “clear gas” which is completely ethanol-free. I drive a 2000 Honda Accord EX V6 car, which is in pretty good condition. Does filling up my car with ethanol free gas make a difference as opposed to going for the standard gas mixed with ethanol? Do I get better gas mileage? Is it better for the engine long term? I imagine that there are not any particular negatives to using clear gas except for cost, but would there hardly be a difference that I would be wasting my money on clear gas? This is something I have been thinking about for several weeks and finally came up with the idea to ask you directly. I’m really curious to know what you think about this.
Thanks for your help!
My reply: Most if not all cars made since the mid-1990s are designed to accommodate E10 (“gas” that is 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent ethanol alcohol) so your 2000 Honda shouldn’t have any of the problems that older vehicles not designed to handle ethanol often have, such as degradation of plastic/rubber fuel system parts leading to leaks and fires and (in cars made before computer-controlled engine management) lean-running.
However, there is an advantage to not using ethanol-laced gas in your 2000 Honda: Better mileage.
E10 contains less energy than pure gasoline because alcohol has less energy than an equivalent volume of pure gasoline; therefore, you won’t go as far on a gallon of E10 as you would on a gallon of pure gasoline.
The difference is noticeable; I recommend experimenting with a tankful of E10 and then a tankful of pure gasoline.
There is a caveat – but it applies mostly to newer cars that have direct injection and (or) high compression. Such engines have been specifically designed to produce maximum power/mileage on ethanol-laced gas, which they achieve via higher cylinder pressure; the octane advantage of ethanol-laced gas is an advantage in such engines.
But your Honda hasn’t got either direct injection or high compression, so my bet is you’ll see a 3 or so percent mileage uptick using no-ethanol gas. If I’m right about that, the next step is to weigh the mileage gain against the cost of the no-ethanol gas and determine whether you’re saving money – or not.
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I tried out clear gas in our 2015 manual Versa. We did the experiment for 3 tanks of gas. The increase in mpg’s was negligible, but it had better torque coming off of the clutch and had slightly better acceleration.