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When there was leaded gas why did it cost less when the lead had to be added and unleaded was higher when it came unleaded in the first place?


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2011-09-14 09:48:57
2011-09-14 09:48:57

At first glance, it doesn't make any sense at all.

But when you look at it overall, it makes perfect sense.

Engine development and gasoline development go hand-in-hand: if you can't get good fuel that doesn't cause knock when it's burned, you can't make powerful engines. Knock tears engines apart.

The people who make engines figured out how to make engines that require gas with high resistance to knock faster than the people who make gas figured out how to make that fuel. Enter a man named Thomas Midgley, who learned how to make lead soluble in gasoline. This "tetraethyl lead" (so called because there are four ethyl groups surrounding each lead atom) came packaged with lead scavengers to keep the lead from accumulating in the engine, and when added to fuel it made the antiknock index go up faster, and cheaper, than it would have by just using petroleum distillates. Gasoline that's SUPPOSED to have lead in it is about 60 octane before they put the lead in it.

Later, the oil refiners learned to make high-quality chemicals from oil. They could have used these chemicals to make unleaded gas that won't tear your engine apart, but there's more profit in specialty chemicals than in gasoline.

So...the answer to your question is, "unleaded gas contains more costly ingredients than leaded gas did, so it needs to be more expensive."

AnswerWhen leaded gas was first introduced, you were getting something extra that cost more to produce, so leaded gas cost more. When the government started requiring non-leaded fuel almost all fuel being produced contained lead. The regulations were so strict that if leaded gasoline had ever been in a tank no unleaded gas could be stored in that tank. So, in order to produce unleaded gas the whole refining, transportation, and delivery system had to be duplicated.

Another answer is: unleaded was something Americans introduced along with catalytic converters in the 1970's. Europeans and the rest of the world's countries didn't use any other standard gasoline than leaded until mid-1980. It was still standard well up in to the 90's. USA banned leaded gasoline in 1986. In Europe unleaded was unusual. Most cars could run on unleaded, but it was recommended use leaded to get higher octance rating and less engine wear. Some people cared for the environment themselves and used unleaded or even bought a car with a catalytic converter. Therefore the demand for leaded, which was standard everywhere, but in USA, was still high.

Not all European stations had unleaded until mid or late 1990. Some European governments increased taxes on leaded gasoline and later made catalytic converters a requirement for new cars to enforce unleaded use of gasoline. In the late 1990's, most European service stations had added potassium as a lead-substitute, but this is also being phased out.


Related Questions

Leaded gas started being phased out in the late 60's. Catatytic converters, which can only burn unleaded gas, were made mandatory in 1975, so that pretty much ended the production of leaded gas.

Actually, the first gasoline was unleaded. Sometime in the 1940s lead was added to increase the octane rating. Environmental legislation in 1975 began the phase-out of leaded gasoline.

Up until the 2008 season Nascar used leaded fuel. Beginning in 2009 and for the very first time NASCAR will use unleaded fuel. It is unleaded, Sunoco 260 GTX.

Yes, you have 2 options. First, mix in some lead substitute with any tank full of unleaded, available at most parts stores. Seond, you have to remove the cylinder head(s) and have a machine shop install hardened valve seats. Then, you can use all of the unleaded you want. The reason for this is that in the pre-unleaded days, the lead in gas served as a lubrication for the valve seats. When the wonderful EPA banned leaded gas, the lead-lubricant was gone. The car makers compensated for this by hardening the valve seats, making lead uneccasary. However, using unleaded in cars bult before about 1974 or so will result in fried valves/ valve job. I'm told that the notoriously bad valve life in old Volkswagon beetles was a direct result of unleaded gas being run in these engines.

In the very beginning of the internal combustion engine, unleaded fuel was used. Unleaded fuel was used way before lead was later added to fuel as an anti-knock agent. In 1975, this all changed, as lead was slowly removed from all fuel.

Lead was removed from gasoline in 1975. When gasoline was first used, there was no lead in it. Lead was later added as an anti-knock agent.

Unleaded gas was first started in the mid 1970's as a way to combat the smog in the larger cities. All vehicles manufactured after 1986 were required to operate completely on unleaded gasoline.

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Technically, the first ounce would start causing damage. The two issues would be 'burning up' the inside of the catalytic converter and clogging the O2 sensor(s). The rate of 'deterioration' would be variable based on obvious factors such as mix ratio of leaded to unleaded, operating conditions, how often it was done, etc. Typically, at full strength, O2 sensors will last 300-400 miles before they become completely clogged from running leaded fuel at full strength. Catalytic converters, I don't know as you would have to be constantly testing it to see when it was completely gone. Some folks just consider replacing O2 sensors as the cost of doing business and have either put a bypass in place of the cat or let the cat get burned up, as they don't have to worry about emission testing where they live. Others have overidden the signal from the sensors or disconnected them and put in a fixed fuel curve. One other thing, since I sell the stuff, I have to point out, it is illegal to run leaded fuel in a vehicle run on public roads(includes parking lots).

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Just put unleaded regular in it. VW had seen the writing on the wall when catalytic converters first came out and changed to valve seats suitable for unleaded fuel. No "lead substitute" is necessary.

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