Ethanol gas: A quick guide from Toyota of Orlando

March 3rd, 2021 by

Have you ever pulled into the gas station, parked at the pump, and noticed the “Less than 10% Ethanol stickers” on it? If you’re anything like most drivers, you probably didn’t think twice about it and may not even know what that means. Toyota of Orlando is here to give you a mini (and pain-free) chemistry lesson on what ethanol is, why it’s used as a fuel additive, and what it can mean for your car’s performance.

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What is ethanol?

Ethanol is actually found in almost every single grade of gasoline available today, although the amount of ethanol found in your fuel can vary. Here are a few quick facts on ethanol and where it comes from:

  • This substance actually is created by a natural process – you get ethanol when you ferment yeast with sugars. It can be manufactured from a wide variety of crops, too – in North America, it’s commonly created from corn whereas, in Brazil, they prefer to produce it using sugarcane since that’s a plentiful crop in that region of the world.
  • Ethanol can be found in lots of places besides gasoline – it’s used in alcoholic beverages, for one, and is also sometimes used as a disinfectant substance in the medical field. It’s actually distilled on a worldwide basis for a variety of purposes.

It’s also a viable fuel source and is commonly used as an additive in gasoline. But why?

The U.S. started adding this substance to fuel back in the early 2000s. Ethanol is usually added to gasoline to help preserve fossil fuels; it stretches the gas a bit further, to put it as simply as possible. Additionally, it also helps to cut down on emissions. Typically you’ll find that most gasoline here in the U.S. is about 10% ethanol or less (you can look at the stickers on the pump to determine just how much is in the fuel that you’re using in your Orlando Toyota).

What benefits come from adding this substance to fuel?

Putting this substance in fuel helps to reduce the carbon emissions coming out of your Orlando Toyota’s tailpipe, but let us be clear – this only works if the percentage of ethanol in the fuel is low. If you were to utilize a mixture that was more ethanol than gasoline (like 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline), you’d actually be putting the planet in a worse submission. Burning ethanol at levels like that creates more smog than if you were to just stick to pure gasoline.

However, as great as this all sounds, there is a caveat. Ethanol is hygroscopic; this means it pulls in moisture and absorbs it from the surrounding air. Having excess moisture in your gas tank is never a good thing, especially in older cars where it could cause rust and performance problems. It hsouldn’t be an issue in a newer Orlando Toyota; these cars are built to guard against this issue (and ethanol levels are typically low enough to not cause issues). However, if you drive a classic, consider finding an ethanol-free fuel to fill up the tank.

If you have questions about the type of fuel you should be using in your ride, give the Toyota of Orlando auto service center a call today. You can reach us seven days a week at (407) 298-4500 or stop by and see us at 3575 Vineland Road, just off I-4 across from the Millenia Mall.