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June 2011 Techline

Jeep Zj Front Three Quarter
Willie Worthy | Writer
Posted June 1, 2011

Your Tech questions answered!

Ethanol-Blend Fuel: Better Than 87 Octane?
Q What can you tell me about ethanol blended gasolines? It appears that in British Columbia, we now have allgrades of gasoline with less than a 94 octane rating containing a 10 percent blend of ethanol. Since that has happened, I have been using only premium gasoline (94 octane) in my vehicles. However, premium is expensive. My wife continues to use 87-octane gasoline, which I’m not happy about.

What little reading I have done suggests that this stuff screws up engines. I read one website that suggestedusing oils containing a new additive containing Lubrilon that was specially formulated to combat the effects of this ethanol problem. Your views would be appreciated.
Grumpy Miller
Vancouver, BC, Canada

A Let’s start out with the fact that ethanol does not produce the same Btu as gasoline, but it has a higher octane rating. It is also corrosive to certain metal, plastic and rubber parts. It also works as a solvent and will remove varnish that has collected in the fuel system. For the last ten years or so (maybe longer), carmakers have been using new types of plastics, metals, and such (of various formulations) to combat this problem. Some types of racers, such as sprint cars, Indy cars, and dragsters, use straight alcohol. To get the power, they have to use about two-thirds more fuel. As I said, it has a higher octane rating, and it also has a cooling effect as it enters the combustion chamber, so compression ratios can be way higher, resulting in more horsepower.

The ethanol has two purposes: One, it promotes a cleaner burning engine; and second, some say it reduces the demand for gasoline by 10 percent. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me due to the loss of fuel mileage, which is usually about 10 percent.

Bottom line: When used in an older vehicle, you may have some fuel contamination problems. The key word here is may and most likely, the worst-case situation is that one may have to change the fuel filter more often. Oh, and the aforementioned 10 percent loss in fuel mileage. So go ahead and use the lower-octane fuel that’s specified by your owner’s manual. The higher-octane fuel is not gaining you anything if the engine does not require it, other than a thinner wallet to sit on. Then again, you’ll have to figure if the loss of fuel mileage is offset by the gain using the higher-octane fuel that does not contain alcohol.

Want Solid Axle for Late-Model Tacoma
Q I have a 2003 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner two-wheel-drive four-door truck with a pretty good stance to it, as it’s lifted six inches (provided by Fabtech) and blocks in the rear. It has the 3.4L V-6 with the stock axles and the stock rear diff-lock. Now I want to convert it to four-wheel drive, but I don’t want IFS. I’ve been doing some research and know that I’m going to need a Dana 44 or 60, or an FJ-80 axle, for this. What about all the rest? Is this even possible to do within a tight budget? I do want to run larger tires and would like to know more about gearing. I know a little bit, but not enough to go out and drop my hard-earned money on something that’s completely wrong. I want to have the low-range capability you get with lower gears but I still want to be able to cruise around 70 mph because this rig is not just a toy but my wife’s grocery getter as well. Thomas Rothwell
Ft. Polk, LA

A Those are the most common axles available. A Toyota or a Jeep Wrangler 44 is most likely the easiest swap. With the Jeep axle, you will have to change out to a special hub or an adapter to get the proper bolt pattern. Take a look at All Pro Off Road’s website (; they have a conversion kit.

You will also need a transfer case. Most likely, the easiest way is with a trans/transfer case swap from a wrecking yard. Gearing will depend on what size of tire you want. With 33-inchers, some 4.10:1 to 4.56:1 axle gears would likely be best. To get lower low-range gears, you can also go with lower transfer-case gearing or a doubler ’case. Search Google for Toyota doubler transfer case and you will find some options. Cost? About three to five grand when it is all done.

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