AAA Warns Drivers Of Potential Problems With E15 Fuel
AAA conducted a recent study which the pro-automobile organization says shows the potential for voided warranties and engine damage from consumer confusion over the E15 ethanol gasoline blend, recently approved in June by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While 95% of all gas sold in the U.S. contains some percentage of ethanol, it never made up more than 10% of the fuel blend. Corn is the main ingredient in formulating ethanol.
The survey shows 95% of consumers have never heard of E15, a fuel that contains 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline and AAA reports only 5% or roughly 12 million of the 240 million vehicles on the American roads, can burn E15 without damaging their engines.
While AAA strongly supports the development of alternative fuels, it’s auto engineering experts believe using E15 in the wrong car could speed up engine wear and failure, cause fuel system damage and make “check engine” light indicators to trigger in error.
Based on this data, AAA is urging regulators and the ethanol fuel industry to stop selling E15 until consumers are better protected and more aware of the fuel.
“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” said Kevin Bakewell, AAA Chief Public Affairs Officer, The Auto Club Group. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”
Motorists not familiar with E15 could find themselves experiencing engine problems not covered b y their vehicle warranties by using the new fuel blend. BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have officially said their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims if a car owner uses E15 and seven other car makers including Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo says the E15 does not comply with the fuel specifications in their owner’s manuals and may void warranty coverage.
According to AAA there are a very limited number of vehicles approved to use E15 safely. This short list includes flex fuel model vehicles like 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles.
Yet according to a study conducted by the Coordinating Research Council and commissioned by automakers, the more ethanol heavy fuel blend proved to damage the engines of vehicles that are approved to use E15.
In addition, one group called Smarter Fuel Future claims ethanol is 33% less efficient than pure gasoline and decreases fuel economy.
While there are only a handful of gas stations currently retailing E15, AAA believes that number will grow and it’s important for fuel producers and the ethanol industry to educate drivers about the potential dangers of E15 and design more effective pump labels.
“The sale and use of E15 should be suspended until additional gas pump labeling and consumer education efforts are implemented to mitigate problems for motorists and their vehicles,” added Bakewell. “Consumers should carefully read pump labels and know their auto manufacturer’s recommendations to help prevent any problems from E15.”