Leaded gasoline is restricted to two uses in the United States: Sanctioned Racing Events and Aviation. We all know what aviation is, so this bulletin will primarily address vehicles and racing events taking place at ground level. Using Aviation Gasoline in racing application is not recommended, and is addressed in a separate technical bulletin.
Sanctioned Racing Events are those in which a sanctioning body (NASCAR, NHRA, etc.) is putting on an event where the vehicles are built for competition only and the rules allow leaded gasoline. This does not include taking a daily driver to the "Grudge Race" night at your local drag strip and using leaded gasoline in it.
Leaded gasoline has been illegal to use in licensed street driven vehicles in the United States since January 1, 1996. (It is also illegal to use in many other countries). Fines in the U.S. can be as high as $25,000.00. This fine includes the vehicle owner ($25,000.00) and the seller of the gasoline (another $25,000.00) if the gasoline is put into the vehicle gasoline tank at the location of the sale. Drums or bulk sales are OK.
The lead in gasoline is in the form of Tetraethyl Lead (TEL). This is not the same as lead weights used in fishing or for ballast in race cars. This type of lead is in a liquid form and is extremely toxic to the human body in its pure form. It is best to wash your skin throroughly with soap and water if you come in contact with leaded gasoline. It is detrimental to catalytic converters and oxygen senors found in most vehicles manufactured since 1975. TEL has been shown to reduce spark plug and exhaust system life, not to mention crankcase oil life through contamination. In our present move to preserve the environment, unleaded is better.
- Use unleaded gasoline in all licensed street driven vehicles. If you are short on octane to a modified engine, use 100 Unleaded Racing Gasoline, or a similar product. If this product is not high enough in octane for your application, you will likely damage your engine if you continue to operate it. Your best bet is to park the car until your reduce the compression ratio, boost, or whatever it takes to make it run on 100 Unleaded Racing Gasoline.
- Use unleaded in your 60's muscle car even though it was originally designed for leaded gasoline. Use a lead substitute or install hardened exhaust valve seats.
- Use unleaded in your antique car. Gasolines have changed and you may have to richen the mixture some to maintain some to maintain the performance. Most of these old engines had hard seats installed when they were manufactured.
- Use leaded gasoline in any licensed street driven vehicle.
- Use gasoline for washing parts (this means leaded or unleaded).
- Use gasoline for starting barbecues (this also means leaded or unleaded).
- Use gasoline for cleaning anything (again, this means leaded or unleaded).