Lead additive and Ethanol fuel treatments

Charles Cates

Asked by Mar 31, 2013 at 11:15 PM about the Chevrolet Bel Air

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Does anyone have any thoughts regarding using lead substitute in my '63 Chevrolet BelAir with the 283 CID V-8 engine? I currently have it in winter storage with 89 octane unleaded fuel with StaBil in the tank. I have had some folks tell me they use the stuff religiously others tell me they never use the stuff and have no problems.  Also thoughts on using an additive to counteract harmful effects of Ethanol? We run E-10 in this area.

5 Answers


I wouldn't worry about the lead unless you are planning the Bel Air as a daily driver. The lead provided lubrication on the valve seals. Without lead, they wear out sooner and leak. If you're driving around a couple - three thousand miles a year, you'll be fine. I would continue to use StaBil to keep the alcohol in the gasoline stable.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Michael Tutty

Absolutely need the StaBil. You may find, to, that the rubber parts of the fuel system will need changing, and the carburetor may need rebuilding, as the ethanol is lousy for them, too.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I don't know about your area but out here we have some stations that sell regular unleaded fuel, no ethanol, at lot of farm equipment and boats here that ethanol messes them up. Might see if any are where you live. I would switch to the Marine StaBil if you can't get the nonethanol stuff.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

GM vehicles 1970 and older were designed to run on leaded fuel. But if you've had the heads rebuilt using hardened valves and seats you can safely use unleaded. I would suggest using a lead substitute if you plan on taking a trip at expressway speeds or use the car as others have said as a daily driver. For around town, low speed driving you should be ok without it. I personally always use it in my pre-1971 GMs. HTH. -Jim

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer
Charles Cates

Thanks everyone, I appreciate each and every reply. I don't know of anywhere I can buy non ethanol fuel except aviation fuel at a gazillion dollars a gallon. Based on your replies I think I'll continue to run the lead substitute and the Lucas or StarTron Ethanol treatment with 89 octane unleaded mid grade fuel. The additives aren't that pricey and all the possible problems with not using them sound expensive. I don't plan on making the Bel Air a daily driver but I would like to take some longer trips where I will be getting up to highway speeds for extended periods of time, in other words I won't be trailering it either. Probably about 2 to 3 K miles a summer. My only hangup with the Ethanol additives is I don't really see from their advertising what they actually DO. Thanks again to all for your informative replies. :-)

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