Modern fuels damaging classic MG fuel system components?
This is very much a topical issue for many classic car enthusiasts, not least MGV8 enthusiasts. We are following this topic with articles from fellow members, news items in the press and feedback from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC).

Experience with Shell V Power with added bio fuel
On reading our item on the difficulties with bio fuel, Mike Haughton contacted us saying "regarding the issue you described with bio-fuel and fuel pumps, I have just had the same problem. I normally fill up with Shell V Power in my MGC and have had no problems. But on Saturday I filled with Esso and I soon wondered why I had used half a tank of fuel in 80 miles! The fuel pump was spraying petrol everywhere! So maybe some brands of fuel have more bio? (15.6.10)

Now confirmed Shell V-Power does contain some ethanol
In the last Newsletter from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) published in December 2009 it was stated that Shell V-Power petrol was guaranteed not to contain ethanol. With that reassurance many V8 enthusiasts chose to use that fuel, despite the higher cost. However the FBHVC has recently reported on its website they have now learned that this is no longer the case and we understand from that report that a statement from Shell says: "Shell, like many other fuel suppliers, has begun blending ethanol into some Unleaded grades, including Shell V-Power at Stanlow, to comply with the legal obligations of the RTFO". (Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation). So corrosion concerns on fuel supply equipment and carburettors with petrol containing ethanol are still concerns for for MG enthusiasts with classic models like the MGB, MGC and V8. The FBHVC say those concerns are being pursued further by their team. (9.2.10) More

Shell V-Power petrol is currently guaranteed not to contain ethanol
In recent discussions between the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) and the DfT over ethanol in petrol, concerns were raised in respect of fuel system corrosion and also high fuel volatility, which has been causing operational difficulties. At that time it was also reported that "it is confirmed that Shell V-Power petrol is currently guaranteed not to contain ethanol. It is not an exchange product, being unique to Shell, so is under their close control, unlike most other fuels sold at filling stations. Thus for the time being, members wishing to avoid petrol containing ethanol can buy this product, which also has the advantage of being widely available." (8.12.09) More
This assurance changed in Early 2010. More

Response from Barrie Jones

It does annoy me that Government is forcing us all to use bio ethanol as a fuel. Apart from the damage it will do to our classic vehicles, it will also put up fuel consumption for everybody, because ethanol contains a lot of oxygen by weight. Even at 10% ethanol, fuel consumption will increase by 3%. So, we will all end up paying extra to carry around with us a chemical that is freely available from the air. To add insult to injury, we shall also be paying 200% tax on it. Yes, 200%. The cost of petrol without duty and VAT is about 35p per litre. The rest is tax. I do wonder if bio ethanol is just another stealth tax disguised as a green measure. The numbers are massive, so even a small increase in consumption raises millions of pounds in revenue. (9.6.09)

Update from a meeting with the Department for Transport (UK)
The EU is pushing for increased use of renewable fuel blending components and materials, and is also pursuing a vigourous reduction in sulphur levels in all fuels. It means that we are likely to see higher ethanol contents in petrol in the quite near future raising further concerns over problems of seal swelling or shrinking, leading to leaks from fuel systems, and fuel stability issues which have resulted in blocked fuel filters and similar problems. (8.6.09) More

Bio-fuels warning
Chris Hunt Cooke, FBHVC chairman and fellow V8 enthusiast, spotted an article in The Times on possible difficulties arising from increasing the proportion of bio-fuel in pump fuel in the future. The

The Times article (16.4.09) by Ben Webster, their Transport Correspondent.

article mentioned the damage that might be caused to the fuel systems of older vehicles. He felt it was something to keep an eye on so had asked the FBHVC fuels expert to comment. (19.4.09)
The Times article - a link and a copy

Update on the current topic: are modern fuels damaging rubber components?
Barrie Jones,TD/TF Technical Specialist with the T Register, provides an update on the biofuels concern for classic MGs. (27.4.08) More

Response to modern fuels damaging rubber components?
John Targett, an English auto plastics specialist and V8 enthusiast in the US, has sent in a contribution to the debate started by Barrie Jones. (25.1.08) More

Wisdom of the rush to biofuels?
John Targett prefaced his comments on the ethanol damage to rubber components with a brief digression on the wisdom of the rush to biofuels saying it would be interesting indeed to have a discussion on this topic, central Government interference in the market place, and the law of unintended consequences! (25.1.08) More

Briefing notes on modern fuels damaging rubber components?
Following the release of a note setting out his concern that modern fuels containing bio ethanol appear to be attacking the rubber components in the carburetters and fuel pumps of our MGs, Barrie Jones has provided the briefing note with useful background information and reports of known problems on this topic. (11.1.08) More

Modern fuels damaging rubber components?

Barrie Jones, who has an MGBGTV8 and is the TD/TF Technical Specialist for the T Register, set out his concern that modern fuels containing bio ethanol appear to be attacking the rubber components in the carburetters and fuel pumps of our MGs. He urges V8 members to inspect the carburetters and fuel pump on their V8 for leaks as a regular safety check. (11.8.08) More

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You can send your comments or views on this technical topic to Barrie Jones using an online response form