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E85 goo - this time with an attitude

Posted by Calan, Oct 6, 2011
Tuning & Engine Management - 4G63 EPROMS, ECU, MAF, knock, EGT, wideband, datalogging, fuel trims, etc. Read this Forum's Strict Guidelines.

  1. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    This is a bit long-winded, so bare with me...

    The car has been running really well, so I decided to push the single Deatschwerks pump a little more by raising the voltage to keep the pressure up... which worked great:

    Deatschwerks DW300 High Flow In-Tank Fuel Pump Testing Post #115

    After several days and another E85 fill up, I noticed the FT's going up and the car was starting to lean out a bit at WOT. So I took the Golan fuel filter apart, and found this (this is a new 40 micron element that I installed about 2 weeks ago):

    filter_dirty.jpg

    A few minutes in some clean gas, I ended up with this (notice how dirty the gas was afterwards OMG):

    filter_clean.jpg

    I pulled the injectors and cleaned them as well. (They had some buildup, but I've seen much worse). After putting everything back together, FT's were back in line and the car ran good until...

    On my way to work yesterday (20 miles), I noticed fuel trims starting to go up again, and this time they were on a mission. As I pulled into the parking lot, AFR's were spiking to 18:1 during open-loop while shifting and during initial acceleration.

    At the end of the day, I adjusted global fuel to compensate somewhat and disconnected the boost-a-pump thinking maybe it was the culprit, even though the voltages looked fine. Long story short, it was a freakin' nightmare just to get the car home. The AFR error was rising faster than I could adjust global fuel to compensate, and by the time I got to my house I was coasting it into my driveway after chugging it up the street in low-load bursts at 19:1 AFR.

    I figured the fuel pump might have failed due to the constant 15v (which would be ridiculous but possible), so I disconnected the return line and timed the flow into a container. Sure enough, the volume of fuel was much lower than what it should have been flowing, so out came the pump.

    What I found was almost unbelievable; the sock, pump, and everything else was coated in the infamous E85 goo... nasty, sticky, tar-like crap. The sock was almost clogged completely, and it was even building up in the hanger hard lines.

    pump_dirty.jpg

    dirty_lines.jpg

    EDIT:

    I should also add that just a couple of days prior to the new tank of E85 that started this mess, I completely drained the tank to recalibrate my fuel gauge after reworking my instrument cluster and interior lights. As a matter of routine, I carefully inspected the fuel that I drained out (about 6 gallons of the same E85), and it was crystal clear with no sign of any debris at all. I poured it back in, and then filled up again a couple of days later.

    So I tossed the pump in some clean gas, and after a few moments of sloshing it around and pouring gas through it, it looked good as new. The jar of gas on the other hand, was so black that a light wouldn't shine through it. :)

    pump_in_gas.jpg
    pump_in_gas_2.jpg
    pump_clean.jpg

    I cleaned the hanger, put everything back together, and drained the remaining E85 from the tank. I then put a couple gallons of gas in, and just ran the pump for a while to let the fuel circulate through the system and clean out any remaining buildup.

    After filling up with gas and driving around a while, the car seemed much better, but then it started leaning out bad at idle again. Thinking the pump may have been permanently damaged, I swapped to a Walbro 255 I had laying around...but I still had the same issue. The car seemed to run fine for a while, but after about 20 minutes it started leaning out like crazy again at idle. I pulled the fuel rail and injectors, but they were now clean after running a couple of gallons of pure gas through the system.

    This morning I drove the car to work again, and it seems fine except for a slight stumble as it goes lean on initial throttle input. I'm hoping any remaining glitches are due to residual crap in the system that will work itself out. It's also possible that I have some minor ignition issues now, although the plugs didn't look all that bad. (I'm hoping I didn't stress the ignition or anything else during the last few miles of trying to get the thing home).

    This is by far the worst case of an E85 goo attack I've ever seen or even heard of. This happened over the course of one or two tanks of E85, from the same station. I was also adding Stabil (marine or ethanol variant) to each tank, which may have actually added to the problem instead of preventing it. Once I get the thing cleaned out and back to normal, I'm going to do some testing to figure out what will actually prevent this, if possible.

    What I do know about the goo so far, is that gasoline dissolves it almost instantly but oddly enough acetone barely has any effect on it. Generic fuel injector cleaner seems to have no effect on it, and neither did the Stabil. But, Sea Foam dissolves it almost as fast as gasoline... so I'll probably add some Sea Foam to the next tank of E85 and see what happens.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2014
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  2. GRAVEDIGGER

    GRAVEDIGGER Proven Member

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    Wow that IS some serious goWTFMG I can't believe how black it made the gas in the jar when you were cleaning the filter and the pump.:| Did you just start adding the Stabil on the last two tanks, or have you added it in the past? I would definitely run some more Sea Foam through it for a while though.
     
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  3. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    I've been running it for a while now, but honestly didn't notice a whole lot of difference. The injectors have seemed to be a little cleaner when I've checked them, but they still get some build up.

    The last two tanks I used the blue "Marine" variant of Stabil, whereas before I was using the new orange ethanol blend. But I have used the blue stuff in the past and definitely didn't see this crap.

    I don't know if it was a bad batch of E85 or what. That is one of the only E85 stations around here though, so it should be easy enough to find out if anyone else is seeing this.
     
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  4. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator

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    One of my local friends runs E85 in her 2G and her 10-micron Aeromotive fuel filter clogs almost completely shut every 6 months or so. You can barely even blow air through it. Nasty stuff.

    PS - The first pic looks like carbon fiber. :)
     
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  5. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    LOL Good call!
     
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  6. rEclipserGST

    rEclipserGST Proven Member

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    I am so noob, I thought that was a carbon fiber filter of some sort. :p

    I shall be checking my 190 fuel pump sock as well. Just for kicks.
     
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  7. phunny

    phunny Proven Member

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    So how are you planning to combat this
     
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  8. LiquidX

    LiquidX DSM Wiseman

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    I would start considering dropping the tank and cleaning it out real well.
     
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  9. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    That ^ was a 40 micron element, and it took less than 6 hours. :)

    The tank was actually spotless when I pulled the pump and inspected it.

    At this point... maybe by buying a Prius. LOL
     
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  10. LiquidX

    LiquidX DSM Wiseman

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    Craig, it's still a thought, you cleaned everything else out and removed goo. There could be enough hanging on the walls or in an area you cannot see that is causing issues.

    Also, have you tried a different fuel source to see if it's a bad batch from the one provider?
     
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  11. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    Not too many sources around here to get E85 from. :)

    I'm running a full tank of pure 91, so hopefully that will dissolve any remaining crap. Should be good to go after a couple of tanks of gas.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
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  12. 99gst_racer

    99gst_racer Moderator

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    Very weird. I know 10 micron is too fine for E85, but 40 micron is the recommended element for it, so I'm very surprised that it clogged at all - let alone in that amount of time.

    Time to switch back to tried and true gasoline?
     
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  13. JayRolla

    JayRolla Proven Member

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    Thats is a lot of goo. I ran e85 for over 2 years and never had that much goo. Not to mention I ran it on a stock fuel filter.
     
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  14. phunny

    phunny Proven Member

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    Calan, how much do you drive the car?
     
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  15. blackrosenova40

    blackrosenova40 Proven Member

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    I think the goo is actually the ethanol breaking apart any rubber hose in the system. They do make specific fuel line for ethanol that is lined with teflon.
     
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  16. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    Just about every day that's nice out, 30-40 miles.

    Chemical analysis done by a few chemists over the last couple of years points away from that idea. It happens even on brand new systems designed specifically for ethanol. Check out the thread over on evom about it.
     
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  17. compression

    compression Proven Member

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    May be completely wrong, but could you run gasoline every third tank or every other tank ? Same theory as dipping your filter in gas. Like I said I'm not familiar with this enough to be sure. [ obviusly you would need different maps ]
     
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  18. blackrosenova40

    blackrosenova40 Proven Member

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    I guess then what I would like to know is, do flex fuel vehicles have this problem!


     
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  19. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    That's been the recommended "fix" for the goo problem for a couple of years now... but it doesn't do much good when this crap comes out of solution and does that ^ within even a single tank or two of E85.

    I have a hunch that using a bit of Sea Foam as an additive will prevent it, or at least cut down on it substantially...but we'll see. Nothing else I've tried has done much to prevent the goo, but this is WAY worse than anything I've seen before.

    Up until now, I've only noticed it on the injector pintles, and one time I had some crud in the filter...but it wasn't goo so much as just two years of not cleaning the filter element. And that was originally a 10 micron SS element instead of the 40 micron element that gummed up seemingly overnight.

    That's a good question, and I don't think anyone really knows yet. I honestly don't think people driving around in 150hp minivans and SUVs pay that much attention to it and would probably never notice it under normal driving conditions for those vehicles.

    To paraphrase the general consensus that has been developed over the last couple of years (as far as I know anyway)...

    The goo appears to be a regional phenomenon and is apparently caused by an E85 additive that comes out of solution under certain conditions (which is why pure gasoline will dissolve it almost instantly). In the lab it was actually a clear color, and nobody really knows why it turns black in our cars; other than maybe it is absorbing carbon or other contaminants as it crashes out. The chemical analysis of the two match almost perfectly though, and the chemical footprint doesn't look anything like any of the rubber or other compounds found in fuel systems.

    FWIW, about the only place I have anything remotely suspicious in my fuel system (if it was actually caused by dissolving rubber), would be a couple of very short pieces of new EFI hose that joins the hard lines to the tank, the factory filler hose, and a couple of fuel pump sleeves that I'm using between the pump and hanger as a spacer; one of which shipped with a pump rated for ethanol use. And I really doubt if any of that could cause a problem. Everything in front of the firewall is SS braided hose rated for fuel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
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  20. snooopy365

    snooopy365 Proven Member

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    I never had this goo before the injectors??
    I'm using E85 in my daily driver now since 4 years.
    My injectors got goo in it (engine side) but also the fuelrail and filter are goo free.

    there is something wrong with the E85 you got!
     
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  21. daren_p

    daren_p DSM Wiseman

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    Which kind of SS braided hose? Don't know much about E85 & what hoses are an issue (E85 isn't available here) but most SS braided hoses are rubber inside. If rubber hoses are an issue I would assume the SS braided lines are as well, unless you got specific teflon lined SS braided hoses?
     
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  22. Calan

    Calan DSM Wiseman

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    I personally don't think synthetic rubber is a major problem with E85 (based on what many knowledgeable people have found out through testing)...but I believe my lines are made of this IIRC, which is CPE-lined and safe for alcohol-based fuels:

    Russell Performance 632060 - Russell ProFlex Hose - Overview - SummitRacing.com

    But...I've known circle track guys that have used the standard old school nitrile-lined SS hoses even with methanol with no known side effects.

    I have both extra hose and plenty of left over E85...I'll soak some for a week or two just for giggles. :)


    Regardless, I've run E85 for over 2 years on the same fuel setup (other than pumps) with nothing more than the occasional "goo on the injector tip" issue...but this is a whole other animal. Something has changed drastically. :)
     
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  23. snooopy365

    snooopy365 Proven Member

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    I doubt it is a fuel line problem. Also stock rubberlines are just fine when running E85.
    Maybe the gasstation had some old engine oil they needed to dispose ;)
     
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  24. Imback

    Imback Proven Member

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    That is the worst case of goo i have ever seen. Ive been running e85 for quite awhile and just get the occasional black tip. But i have never seen the actual filter on the pump black. I have a feeling it's the additives that you are adding that are causing that.
     
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  25. 1997_GSX

    1997_GSX Proven Member

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    Have you tried this yet? Safeguard™ Ethanol Fuel Conditioner with Stabilizers : Lucas Oil

    Lucas products always seem to work.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2014
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