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Poor Gas Mileage

If your California car is getting less mileage then last year, call the Calirofnia State Legislature, not your mechanic. All gasoline now sold in California must now meet the requirements of the California Air Resources Board, Phase II. The idea of "watering down" gasoline by adding oxygen was to lean out old carbureted cars so that they would pollute less. In an old carbureted car running rich (too much fuel), the move to oxygenated gas significantly reduces carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emission. However, the old carbureted cars that were running lean, would now stall on the oxygenated gas unless they are adjusted to use more fuel. These cars were designed for unoxygenated gasoline that is more volatile then the current Phase II gasoline. We pay extra for gasoline with less energy so that the few remaining old carbureted cars running rich will pollute less. For those of us with Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI), the oxygen sensor detects the added oxygen and says more fuel, more fuel.

Unoxygenated gasoline has more energy per gallon then oxygenated gasoline. This means that it takes more oxygenated gasoline to supply the same energy. In other words, my Aerostar went from 23 to 18 miles per gallon. A friend's Toyota 4 by 4 dropped from 17 to 14 miles per gallon. My smog receipts show no change in pollution for my EFI car because it automatically adjusts for the fuel I use. We pay extra for gasoline with less energy so that old carbureted cars running rich will pollute less. It would be cheaper to fix or destroy these old cars, but the problem in California is, many of them aren't even registered, but that's another story.

There are some things that you can do to help your old carbureted car pass the new smog tests. 1) Put a heavier oil in the crankcase to put more "load" on the engine. 2) Just before the smog test fill up with good winter "Arizona" gas. i.e. unoxgenated gas with enough volatility to easily ignite. ("Winter Gas" is more volatile then "Summer Gas".) Even though my daughter's car passed with flying colors in the high RPM test, and would have passes the idle test if in gear (it is an automatic), it just failed the unloaded idle test because of a slight miss. The mechanic refused to test it "in gear" saying it was against the law. Someone later told me that is not true. It seems they do their best to make cars fail. I should have spent the time to go get some "Arizona Gas". It would have been cheaper then the two failed smog inspections and a mechanic retarding the spark to "reduce emissions". This dropped the cars mileage from 15 to 5 MPG and also caused it to overheat. On top of that, this "adjustment" was an expensive "repair". It also didn't work. There are no guarantees in this line of work.

Other side effects of adding oxygen to gasoline is rubber hose deterioration and rust of fuel lines. Many old cars were not designed for Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether because of rubber hoses which would crack and leak. In addition, an oxygenated compound, whether it be Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether or Alcohol, absorbs water from damp air, causing fuel lines to corrode from the inside and eventually leak. I have been told that the number of car fires in old cars had increased significantly for a few years after MTBE was introduced. I suspect that many of the metal gas tanks at the Gas Stations also rusted because of MTBE, releasing gasoline and the carcinogenic MTBE into the ground water. Since oxygenated compounds are water soluble, MTBE easily mixes with ground water which can rapidly spread it for miles, making the water unfit to drink.

If you believe the third hand rumors on the internet under "" that were posted several years ago, the original purpose of oxygenated gas was an attempt by politicians to force the oil companies to buy alcohol from farmers and thus reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which would reduce the deficit. Didn't work. What most people don't know is that pure ethanol has half the energy of pure [unoxygenated] gasoline. This means going from pure gasoline to pure ethanol will drop your gas milage in half. M85 is not as bad because it does contain some [15%] gasoline.

If the oil companies are required to buy ethanol from ADM back East, ADM will add a very toxic poison to the 200 proof ethanol to prevent it being used for other purposes. That means that when this ethanol is added to gasoline, and then with a gasoline spill, this very toxic poison will mix with and poison our ground water. Hasn't MTBE done enough damage to our ground water?

I wrote my congressmen to complain about the Federal Law requiring oxygenated gasoline. The answer I received from Boxer was that she to was for "low sulphur diesel fuel". The answer I received from Cunningham was that he too was for the environment and against off-shore drilling. I suppose those were the closest form letters their staff had.

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