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  #1  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:19 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
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Why do pumps still specify "Unleaded" gasoline?

I'm *just* old enough to have actually seen and remember when gas stations still sold both leaded and unleaded gasoline. I know it was only 1996 when leaded was officially outlawed for on-road vehicles, but it's been at least 20-25 years since I've actually seen it.

My question is if commercial pumps cannot legally sell leaded gasoline, why do they still specify "unleaded"?
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  #2  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:36 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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What do you want them to call it? It's gasoline with specific properties, so it needs some sort of specific epithet to distinguish it from other gasoline. Everybody knows what unleaded means, so what would be the point of changing it?

Back in the "old days" there were at least two types of gasoline sold at every station: regular or standard gasoline and super or premium. As a generalisation your old cars ran on standard, the new cars (ie, late 60s and newer models) ran on premium.

Then unleaded was introduced, and it replaced standard because by the mid 80s cars were capable of getting good performance on standard. So most stations sold unleaded and premium for many years. Then leaded was phased out altogether, and there were premium unleaded and unleaded. Now there are also various alcohol blends and so forth.

So, with all those different types of fuel and all those types of engines, what do you suggest we call unleaded? We could go back to calling it regular I suppose, but it hardly seems to achieve anything that calling it unleaded doesn't also achieve.
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  #3  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:40 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
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I suppose "regular" would be acceptable. "Unleaded" just seems archaic.
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  #4  
Old 03-17-2010, 07:48 PM
kunilou kunilou is online now
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Leaded gas is still sold for marine and aircraft engines as well as for agricultural equipment. It may be irrelevant 98% of the time, but it still makes sense to mark which is which.
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  #5  
Old 03-17-2010, 08:22 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Regulations exist in all states and at the federal level defining what constitutes each fuel and you will have to get all these descriptions changed. The following is one such example.

New York State Weights and Measures Regulations
1 NYCRR Part 224

Issued December 28, 2007
Quote:
224.12 Retail sales of unleaded or leaded gasoline.
(a) No retailer or wholesale purchaser-consumer, or his/her employee or agent, shall sell, dispense, or offer for sale
gasoline represented to be unleaded unless such gasoline meets the defined requirements for unleaded gasoline.
(b) Every retailer and every wholesale purchaser-consumer shall affix to each gasoline stand a permanent legible label
as follows:
(1) For gasoline pump stands containing pumps for the introduction of unleaded gasoline into motor vehicles, the
label shall state: Unleaded gasoline.

(2) For gasoline pump stands containing pumps for the introduction of leaded gasoline into motor vehicles, the
label shall state: Contains lead anti-knock compounds. Any label required under this paragraph shall be located
so as to be readily visible to a retailer's or a wholesale purchaser-consumer's employees and persons operating
motor vehicles into which gasoline is to be dispensed.
(c) If more than one grade of unleaded gasoline is dispensed from a gasoline pump or pump stand, compliance with
this section is required for only one grade.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 03-17-2010 at 08:23 PM..
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  #6  
Old 03-17-2010, 08:53 PM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou View Post
Leaded gas is still sold for marine and aircraft engines as well as for agricultural equipment. It may be irrelevant 98% of the time, but it still makes sense to mark which is which.
Can you provide a cite for this?
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  #7  
Old 03-17-2010, 09:11 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is online now
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To distinguish
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  #9  
Old 03-17-2010, 11:17 PM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is offline
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Also, pretty much every car on the road says "UNLEADED FUEL ONLY" on the gas cap and on the gas gauge. If you don't label the pump as unleaded you're going to get someone who's confused.
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  #10  
Old 03-17-2010, 11:23 PM
Neptunian Slug Neptunian Slug is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
I'm *just* old enough to have actually seen and remember when gas stations still sold both leaded and unleaded gasoline. I know it was only 1996 when leaded was officially outlawed for on-road vehicles, but it's been at least 20-25 years since I've actually seen it.

My question is if commercial pumps cannot legally sell leaded gasoline, why do they still specify "unleaded"?
I think the simplest answer is because that's what we have always called it. I don't think if a gas station changed all the "unleaded" signs to "regular" tomorrow, people would start freaking out that they might be buying leaded gasoline. But then again, what's the motivation to change the signs in the first place?

In 20 years, someone will ask you "Why do you still call your phone a cell phone? As if there is any other kind of phone". And all you will have to offer is that this is what you have always called it.
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  #11  
Old 03-18-2010, 02:27 AM
Magiver Magiver is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonh300 View Post
Can you provide a cite for this?
The Avgas fuels are dyed to distinguish the different types. 100LL is blue, 80/87 is red, 130 is green, and 82 lead free is purple. About the only aviation fuel sold any more is 100LL which means people with engines designed for 80/87 have to add a lead scavenging additive to keep the plugs from fowling.
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  #12  
Old 03-18-2010, 02:49 AM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
The Avgas fuels are dyed to distinguish the different types. 100LL is blue, 80/87 is red, 130 is green, and 82 lead free is purple. About the only aviation fuel sold any more is 100LL which means people with engines designed for 80/87 have to add a lead scavenging additive to keep the plugs from fowling.
If you avoid bird strikes I assure you that you will never, ever have a fowled plug.
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  #13  
Old 03-18-2010, 05:45 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
I suppose "regular" would be acceptable. "Unleaded" just seems archaic.
I've seen "regular" used to designate the lowest octane gas variety at a particular pump, with "premium" and other descriptors used to designate the higher octane versions.
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  #14  
Old 03-18-2010, 08:05 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Don't you have diesel 4WDs and light trucks in the US? Differentiating the petrol pumps from diesel pumps would be one reason to still specify "Unleaded" fuel... Also, there's ethanol blended fuel (E10) which is sold alongside Unleaded and Diesel fuel at many petrol stations here too...
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  #15  
Old 03-18-2010, 09:14 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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I remember when AMOCO sold 100 octane unleaded gasoline.
Just why they sold it was a mystery-I don't think and cars were sold in the USA (save a few Ferraris and Maseratis) that had engines with compression ratios >10.5:1.
The stuff must have sold though-it was available until the early 1990's, i think.
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  #16  
Old 03-18-2010, 09:15 AM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Don't you have diesel 4WDs and light trucks in the US? Differentiating the petrol pumps from diesel pumps would be one reason to still specify "Unleaded" fuel... Also, there's ethanol blended fuel (E10) which is sold alongside Unleaded and Diesel fuel at many petrol stations here too...
Diesel is designated "diesel" and shouldn't (although it sometimes still does) get confused with gasoline. This was true before in the introduction of unleaded gas.
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  #17  
Old 03-18-2010, 09:18 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
Diesel is designated "diesel" and shouldn't (although it sometimes still does) get confused with gasoline. This was true before in the introduction of unleaded gas.
Yup, and it's usually marked in big bold letters on the pump, plus the pump is usually in a different color than the others. I believe the nozzle is a different diameter/configuration as well, to help avoid problems with putting the wrong fuel in.
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  #18  
Old 03-18-2010, 09:54 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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The nozzles for leaded and unleaded are different sizes, so that, back when we had both, I couldn't fit a leaded gas nozzle into the tank on my unleaded car. That probably isn't why the pumps are labeled as they are. I think they are labeled "unleaded" because that is the kind of gas that is in there, the "gasoline" is understood. Its the name that has always been used and changing it would be confusing.

Last edited by shiftless; 03-18-2010 at 09:55 AM..
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  #19  
Old 03-18-2010, 10:05 AM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
Yup, and it's usually marked in big bold letters on the pump, plus the pump is usually in a different color than the others. I believe the nozzle is a different diameter/configuration as well, to help avoid problems with putting the wrong fuel in.
It still happens sometimes. My stepmother did it over the winter. Cost her $800 to get the tank dumped and the system flushed. Fortunately she realized it quickly or it could have been worse.
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  #20  
Old 03-18-2010, 10:19 AM
zwede zwede is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I remember when AMOCO sold 100 octane unleaded gasoline.
Just why they sold it was a mystery-I don't think and cars were sold in the USA (save a few Ferraris and Maseratis) that had engines with compression ratios >10.5:1.
The stuff must have sold though-it was available until the early 1990's, i think.
Guess you never had an American muscle car from the 60's then? Plenty of them had 11:1 compression or more. The L88 Corvette, for instance, came from the factory with 12.5:1 and required 100 octane.
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  #21  
Old 03-18-2010, 10:57 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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I still remember Fred Flintstone pulling up to the pumps and greeting the elephant named "Ethel" because he wanted ethyl gas.

What was ethyl gasoline?
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  #22  
Old 03-18-2010, 11:01 AM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Tildrum View Post
What was ethyl gasoline?
Ethyl gasoline was gasoline produced by the Ethyl Corporation, later a genericized trademark.

But what was it? it was gasoline with tetraethyl lead, the old "regular" gasoline that was phased out in favor of unleaded.
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  #23  
Old 03-18-2010, 12:57 PM
butler1850 butler1850 is offline
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Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I remember when AMOCO sold 100 octane unleaded gasoline.
Just why they sold it was a mystery-I don't think and cars were sold in the USA (save a few Ferraris and Maseratis) that had engines with compression ratios >10.5:1.
The stuff must have sold though-it was available until the early 1990's, i think.

Race gas. Now it's 105ish octane, and you can find it, but unless you've got racetracks in your area, it's going to be tough. But any drag strip, or track that folks can run street cars on will have a station right near by, doing a swift business in it. The nearest to my house is about 30 minutes away, right next to the track.
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  #24  
Old 03-18-2010, 01:03 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is online now
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Long ago, unleaded was called white gas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_gas
Coleman Fuel was sold for their lanterns and stoves because it was unleaded. Some people foolishly used gas from a pump and inhaled lead fumes.

Now, there's not much difference in gas from a pump and Coleman fuel except it's filtered more.

Last edited by aceplace57; 03-18-2010 at 01:03 PM..
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  #25  
Old 03-18-2010, 02:38 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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white gas for cook stoves is different from any kind of automobile gasoline.

Last edited by johnpost; 03-18-2010 at 02:40 PM..
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  #26  
Old 03-18-2010, 05:35 PM
Telemark Telemark is offline
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post
white gas for cook stoves is different from any kind of automobile gasoline.
In the US, it's not. It's just ultra pure unleaded gasoline.

In other countries, the term "White Gas" means a variety of different things, so you should do a bit of research before buying it for your camping stove.
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  #27  
Old 03-18-2010, 06:38 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is online now
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Originally Posted by Airman Doors, USAF View Post
Ethyl gasoline was gasoline produced by the Ethyl Corporation, later a genericized trademark.

But what was it? it was gasoline with tetraethyl lead, the old "regular" gasoline that was phased out in favor of unleaded.
I had family members that recalled when they started selling gas with lead added, at a higher price than the regular gasoline. And I remember where 'unleaded' gas was introduced, also at a higher price.

Seems like the oil companies always charge a higher price for it, whether they are adding lead or taking it out.

Last edited by t-bonham@scc.net; 03-18-2010 at 06:40 PM..
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  #28  
Old 03-18-2010, 08:17 PM
Magiver Magiver is online now
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Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
The Avgas fuels are dyed to distinguish the different types. 100LL is blue, 80/87 is red, 130 is green, and 82 lead free is purple. About the only aviation fuel sold any more is 100LL which means people with engines designed for 80/87 have to add a lead scavenging additive to keep the plugs from fowling.
Sorry, my "U's" look like "W's" when I type.
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  #29  
Old 03-19-2010, 08:43 AM
zwede zwede is offline
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Seems like the oil companies always charge a higher price for it, whether they are adding lead or taking it out.
As much as I like conspiracy theories, this being GQ it should be mentioned that lead was added to increase octane ratings which is why it was initially priced higher. When unleaded fuel was introduced in the early 70's, they didn't simply remove the lead. Since cars by then needed more octane than in the pre-leaded gas era the lead had to be replaced with other octane boosting additives. These new additives were, at the time, new and incurred a higher cost than lead.
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  #30  
Old 03-19-2010, 11:19 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonh300 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou
Leaded gas is still sold for marine and aircraft engines as well as for agricultural equipment. It may be irrelevant 98% of the time, but it still makes sense to mark which is which.
Can you provide a cite for this?
Gimme a couple days to locate and copy for you all my receipts for buying aircraft fuel since 1995.

No, seriously - aviation gasoline still contains lead compounds. I have flown some aircraft with engines that would only take unleaded, but it was a headache 'cause I'd usually have to drive to a gas station with a trunk full of gas cans and get unleaded premium because the airports I usually went to didn't sell UNleaded gas, only the leaded aviation gas.

And then there was the ethanol problem... ethanol apparently being corrosive or something to many of the hoses and stuff used in small airplane engines. I'm not quite clear on the details, but having no desire to be the Daring Young Girl in Her Flaming Machine I scrupulously avoided ethanol containing gasoline... which was a pain when trying to buy unleaded premium in the Midwest.

Bottom line - yes, there really is leaded gas still sold in the US. In very limited quantities in a limited number of locations for a significantly higher price than what is put into cars. Last time I bought avgas it was around $5.30/gallon, and if I recall auto gas was under $3,00 at the time.
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  #31  
Old 03-19-2010, 11:52 AM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
I remember when AMOCO sold 100 octane unleaded gasoline.
Just why they sold it was a mystery-
There are a lot of people who equate octane rating with "quality" for some reason, and think they're making their cars last longer or produce more power or be more efficient or something if they spring for the higher octane. It ain't true; any octane higher than you need to prevent knocking is just money down the drain.

I wouldn't doubt that Amoco, and every other refiner, made a higher margin off that stuff than off of "regular", playing to that mistaken idea.

Avgas costs more than mogas in part because it gets shipped by truck. The refiners don't want to deal with lead contaminating the same pipelines they use to ship mogas, their cash cow. There is such a thing as non-ethanol mogas available at a few airports, for lower-compression aircraft engines certified for it, but you don't see it often.
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