|I’ve just read this on another BB. Please read.
“Fuel pipe research (long!) - for discussion!
You may recall that I had a rant about rotting flexible fuel pipe a while ago.
In the end I did a lot of internet research, and came up with the following observations:
* Since getting my car on the road 7 or 8 years ago I have had to replace rotted flexible fuel hoses 3 times. Each time the hose has cracked and was dripping fuel everywhere.
* I have always used decent quality hose (Gates, or similar).
* It seemed to happen randomly but especially after a long spell in the garage, whether due to bad weather or whatever. (significant point #1)
* Some other people had similar problems.
* More people were using similar hose and having no problems (significant point #2)
Results of research
* Petrol has changed significantly over past few years - it now contains more alcohol-based substances, which are very corrosive to normal rubber.
* Hoses in the USA are marked with an SAE code, e.g. SAE J30R9, according to its ability to resist modern fuels. As much of the hose bought in the UK is made (or sold) in the USA then these markings may appear here.
* There are 4 significant groups of SAE codes:
Unmarked hose - will probably be for the original petrol formula, without modern additives (but see later comments).
30R6 - This is the standard for the petrol formula of 5 - 10 years ago, for fuel injection. The bore may or may not be lined with Nitrile.
30R7 - This is the standard for the petrol formula of 2 or 3 years ago, for fuel injection. The bore is lined with Nitrile.
30R9 / 30R10 - This is the current standard. The bore is lined with Fluoroelastomer/Nitrile. 30R9 has Fluoroelastomer/Nitrile on the inside, while 30R10 has it inside and out, which allows it to be used immersed in petrol (e.g. in a fuel tank).
* There is also a marine grade for use in boats - ISO 7480 A1 - that is roughly equivalent to 30R7-and-a-bit, with added fire resistance.
* One of the causes of fuel pipe failure described in the USA literature is stale modern fuel, not so much the fuel itself. These fuels become extra-corrosive when they get old.
* The USA seem to use a higher percentage of alcohol in their regular fuel - but we're not far behind in Europe.
What got me angry...
* Gates in the USA only make and sell fuel pipe of grade 30R9 or better (they even have brand-new super-grades). Gates in the UK distribute unmarked hose to motor factors that, if you are lucky, is only 30R6. Why don't we get the same? Are they dumping their surplus stock on the UK?
* The Gates sales rep for the UK and Europe didn't know that the USA grades were far higher than his offerings - he didn't even know the trade names for the USA products (shown in every USA Gates catalogue).
* 30R9 is freely available on the USA eBay, at sensible prices, made by big-name manufacturers such as Gates and Goodyear. It is never (or maybe rarely) available on the UK eBay. Only the excessive postage stopped me from buying it there.
* One on-line supplier (Think Auto) advertised that their hose is 30R9, but when it turned up it was unmarked. I recognised that it was stuff that I'd used previously and told them so. To their credit they apologised, refunded my money AND paid for the return postage.
* There is a general ignorance about this whole issue - when I asked for a specific grade of hose many suppliers didn't comprehend, while others were almost abusive ("Our stuff is good enough...!).
* The one who did supply the correct hose, Hose World, advertised it as 30R10 on their website, the bloke on the phone didn't think it was any special grade when I asked, and when it turned up it was 30R9, which is what I was after in the first place!
* If you search on any USA car forum about fuel pipe you will see that most people are fully aware of this issue, and the need to use modern hose. There seems to be a general ignorance in the UK.
Last thoughts and recommendations:
It was almost certainly stale fuel that rotted my fuel hose(s).
1. Don't buy general-purpose hose from a motor factor, unless it has at least 30R9 printed on it. Even stuff off the Gates stand isn't good enough.
2. If you are getting it via the internet or mail order, don't be fobbed off by excuses. Only the proper stuff is safe for long-term use.
3. If you are going to leave your car unused for a month or so, consider draining the petrol, especially if you are unsure of your fuel pipe grade.
4. If you really can't get 30R9, consider getting ISO 7480 - this is easily available from marine suppliers in the UK (but see point 3). All proper fuel hose in this grade has to be marked, to meet regulations.
Re-reading some of the websites I found during this research reminded me of an important indication of fuel pipe decay - smell.
If you go into your garage and there is a stink of petrol, but you can't find a leak, then it is very likely that vapour is permeating through the fuel hose. If this is the case then it is a fair bet that the hose will fail sometime in the near future... maybe not immediately, but sometime.”
The last paragraph is of particularly concern for me; my fuel injected V8 has started to smell although there are no obvious leaks.