Here’s the latest reader questions, along with my reply!
Dennis asks: You are one of the most intelligent writers that I read on any subject. My question? I am 67 now and was about to buy a new Lexus ES350; but your recent article makes me want to track the very elusive first generation Cadillac Seville without the hidden rust vinyl top. I now have an ’06 Lexus IS 250 with 53,000 or so miles and could live with it longer; the only downside is spending more bucks on staggered tires (don’t last as long) and postponement of putting in new spark plugs in case of getting another car. What to do?
My reply: You raise an important point – and consideration. Today’s ethanol-blend fuels can cause deterioration of fuel system parts in older cars not originally designed to withstand alcohol-laced fuels. This applies mainly to cars made before the 1990s – before ethanol-laced fuels became ubiquitous.
The good news is the “fix”is relatively easy and inexpensive. Simply replace the components in the fuel system that weren’t originally made to be compatible with ethanol-laced fuel. The even better news is this has probably already been done by now – unless the car in question is a very low-miles “survivor” that has never been rebuilt or had most of its systems gone through.
By now, almost all cars from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s have had most if not all of their original fuel system components (e.g., fuel pump and rubber lines; internal carburetor parts such as gaskets, accelerator pumps, floats, needle and seats, etc.) replaced/rebuilt – and with materials that are ethanol compatible.
But if there is any question, just replace these parts. The new/replacement parts will be ethanol-ok.
You may also need to re-jet the carburetor, if the vehicle you’re dealing with has one, because today’s ethanol–laced gas is leaner than the pure gasoline these cars were designed (and calibrated) to run on. But this, too, is very easy – and very inexpensive.
The one that’s not as easy – and is somewhat expensive – but which I recommend doing if it hasn’t already been done is to replace all the factory steel fuel lines (and the steel gas tank) with stainless lines and a new tank. Ethanol-laced fuels attract water and old school steel lines/tanks are susceptible to rusting out from the inside. The flakes can wreak havoc with the running of your car, too – because they’ll inevitably be drawn upstream, sucked into the carb ad clog up some vital passage.
But even this expense – and hassle – is trivial compared with the expense and hassle of a modern car, with all of its “assists”!
I say, get the Seville!
And, thanks for the kind words!
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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