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Hey Engine Man: Should I Add Lead to My Gas?

Successful Farming Engine Man Ray Bohacz has engine grease and field dirt under his fingernails from a life spent repairing vehicles and running a farm. When he’s not busy in the shop, he’s working on maintenance articles and videos for Successful Farming magazine and answering questions from readers.

Letter from George Franklin:

They are already using 15% ethanol in some places. Will adding a lead additive to my fuel help the engine keep from being destroyed by the use of 15% ethanol?

Response from the Engine Man:

Adding a lead additive to fuel will not impact the fuel in any negative way. But I question the need for a lead additive. 

Fuel distillers added lead to gasoline years ago as an inexpensive means to add octane and as a lubricant for the valve seat and, to a lesser extent, the valve guide (even though engine oil is also available for lubrication of guides). People used to say that a valve would burn or deteriorate without lead in the fuel. Obviously, that was not true. There are many, many old engines of all types that have been running for 40 years now on unleaded fuel.

When I read your letter, I was taken back by your comment about the gas being E15. Most of the country has E10 or E85. With an older engine, you will have no issues with E10 at all. It is an excellent fuel.

Do you have a maintenance question? Email Ray Bohacz at


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