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The danger of using ethanol-laced gasolines and E-85 fuel in Honda and Acura vehicles

On January 28, 1986, I was sitting in my 2nd period high school Spanish class when the principle announced, via the intercom, that the space shuttle Challenger had just exploded, killing the 7 crew members aboard. In the days to follow, it was discovered that because of o-ring deterioration, fuel was able to leak from the booster engines, which resulted in the catastrophe. What compounded this terrible incident came just a few weeks later, when investigations uncovered that prior to the launch, there were warnings that the booster engine o-ring sealing capabilities could be compromised, due to cold temperatures, which would cause fuel leakage. The warnings were ignored, the shuttle was launched, and as a result 7 people died.

Fast forward to present day. As a result of the annual fuel consumption and emissions standards of this nation, the powers that be, whether right or wrong, mandated the additive of ethanol alcohol to all gasolines on the market today. In addition to the ethanol laced gasolines, there is also another type of vehicle fuel coming more and more available. This new fuel is 85 % ethanol alcohol and it is sold under the product name E-85.

Most vehicles on the road today can operate on E-85. However, there is a very real danger involved with this.


Even if you do not use the more concentrated ethanol mixture of E-85, the fuel system of older vehicles has seals and o-rings that will deteriorate over time due to the exposure to ethanol alcohol and those seals and o-rings will eventually leak fuel. This fuel leakage will be in the engine compartment of your vehicle around the fuel rail and injectors, where it has approx. 40 pounds per square inch (PSI) of fuel pressure behind it. Fuel leakage in the engine compartment is in a perfect enviroment for a flash fire; tight quarters with a internal combustion furnance (engine) that produces plenty of heat for the ignition of alcohol and gasoline.

For this reason. it is very important that a periodic fuel system inspection is performed on your Honda and Acura vehicles. Even if you do not use E-85, you are still having to burn gasoline with at least 10% ethanol in it.

This blog post is not a scare tactic, or a way to get more customers into our service department…It also involves all vehicle makes and is not confined to Honda and Acura vehicles only. This is very serious, just ask your local fire department. Ethanol is a “polar solvent”, which means it will mix with water. There have actually been tests performed where E-85 was dilluted with 500% percent water, and it was still flammable!!! As I am writing this post, I am reading a warning to the owners and managers of automotive shops. This warning pertains to the increased possibility of fire in repair shops from ethanol gasolines and the fact that the current fire fighting foam, known as A-FFF, doesn’t work on burning alcohol-based liquids such as ethanol. To battle alcohol-based fires, fire fighters need an alcohol-resistant aqueous film-forming foam, known as AR-AFFF, which most small fire departments do not have because it is about 30% more expensive then the currently used aqueous film forming foam (A-FFF), which was originally designed by the U.S. Navy to combat jet fuel fires aboard aircraft carriers.

Because of the re-introduction of ethanol to all gasolines, unless you drive a vehicle that is a flex fuel vehicle, specifically designed for E-85 and ethanol-laced fuels; have the fuel system inspected every 3 months.

Again, feel free to check out this information with your local fire department representitives…They are equally concerned.

A wise man once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. How many people were personally affected as a result of not listening to the warnings prior to January 28th, 1986? Protect yourself….Protect your family. Have the fuel system on your Honda and Acura vehicles inspected by a professional as a part of the routine maintenance proceedure.

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