• Jul 8th 2011 at 4:58PM
  • 16
Fuel with a 15 percent concentration of ethanol is headed to America's pumps soon and buyers with older vehicles may want to steer clear. Pumps dispensing E15 will be identified by a large orange sticker and the fuel is only approved for use in vehicles that are from the 2001 model year or newer.
Using the 85-percent gasoline mix in older cars, lawnmowers or boats is prohibited by law because the fuel may cause damage to vehicle systems. That's pretty rough, but according to Consumer Reports, that's still not enough for many car companies. According to the institute, nine automakers thus far have made it clear that they won't honor warranties of older vehicles found to be running E15 through their systems. Toyota, General Motors and Chrysler are all among those manufacturers.

There are other hurdles to E15 acceptance, too. If fuel stations need to provide E10 for older vehicles and E15 for those built after 2001, they'll need an additional storage tank for the new fuel. That can be prohibitively expensive, which means that it may simply be easier for older stations to skip E15 all together.

[Source: Consumer Reports]


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  • 16 Comments
      JP
      • 4 Years Ago
      In the boating industry ethanol is a mess. Boats sit unused for long periods so the ethanol absorbs atmospheric moisture, until it can't, then it phase separates out of the gas and you have water, ethanol, and gas sitting in the tank. The ethanol can also free up old built up deposits in gas tanks, which then get pulled into fuel filters, carbs, and injectors. The ethanol can also break down hoses and gaskets, especially on older boats, and boats stay in service longer than cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How many cars 2001 or older actually have a warranty? Total BS from the automakers here.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My wife and I both have pre-2000 vehicles, and the vehicle warranty is a non-issue for us (especially since one of the vehicles is on a "salvage title") -- but we do worry about warranties on new parts. In this economy we can't afford to replace our vehicles. Chewing up a succession of essential parts by using E15 would only dig us even more deeply into the hole.
      JeffMGrant
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've run 50/50 (e85 and E10) in a 2003 Saturn ION for about 20k miles and haven't had any problems with the mixture. I've also ran E85 in my other car, a 1997 Saturn SL with slightly oversized injectors for 60K miles. That car has 205,000 miles on it and no problems with the fuel system which is all original minus the injectors. I think the car companies are a little nuts about E15.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hmm.. i think it would be safe to assume that not many 10 year old cars are still under warranty.. But leaving your customers out in the cold because of a change in fuel is pretty messed up. At least offer a retrofit kit for sale.
      JeffMGrant
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't see how stations need several tanks. Maybe one for E85 and one with RBOB Gas and blender pumps.
        Chris M
        • 4 Years Ago
        @JeffMGrant
        Exactly. Gas stations that sell "mid-grade" have tanks for regular and premium, and simply blend the two to get their "mid-grade". Similarly, a station selling regular E10 and E85 could blend the two to get E15. But considering the potential liability, and the lack of any real market, I suspect very few if any gas stations will bother selling E15, it's showing every indication of being a fiasco.
      Jass
      • 4 Years Ago
      These manufacturers are lying through their teeth. Many countries have MANDATED E15+ in ALL gas for years and years, so theres been plenty of time to test what it does. They're running around saying it's a giant unknown....pure BS.
      uncle_sam
      • 4 Years Ago
      Oh what a drama. I covered 40 000 miles on E70. There never was an issue... And there is no waranty on older cars. Alwasy spreading FUD. There is an old ad by Aral in German from 1968, that tells one how good Ethanol is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-4GxMky7UM Aral Super mit Alkohol. Aral unleaded with Alcohol. It was normal then. Now Nations are upset... LOL
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 4 Years Ago
        @uncle_sam
        That's before emissions controls though. Emissions controls and electronic fuel injection, cam timing, ETC really do change how an engine operates. I'd like to see some data showing that e15 actually does damage modern engines.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 4 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          We've been running e10 in the United States since 2006 or so.
          uncle_sam
          • 4 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          The german auto association is testing a older non E10 capabe car with E10. They planned to drive it till it falls apart. But nothing happended. They inspected the engine and found nothing
      usbseawolf2000
      • 4 Years Ago
      For 2 million miles, Volt saved 21k gallons of gas if they drove Prius instead. Tax payers paid $21 million for the 2,745 Volt sold. The cost is $1,000 per gallon so far. It will cost less as those Volts rack up more miles. Even when all 2,745 Volts reach 100k miles (battery warranty expire), Volt would save 2.9 million gallons over Prii. The cost of saving one gallon of gas would be over $7 per gallon. That does not include the price of 479 mega watt-hour of electricity.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 4 Years Ago
        @usbseawolf2000
        Also add in the Nissan Leaf subsidies too. And the hybrid car subsidies ( which IMHO... are actually worth spending the money on. ) Truth be told, it costs a hell of a lot of money to reduce our oil usage ( if we're talking about using a car )
      teamvivace
      • 4 Years Ago
      More Anti ethanol ramblings.. It's amazing today I see two stories on Autoblog green about ethanol. one where they are lowering the percentage in Brazil and one where they are raising the percentage here. and both give ethanol a negative spin. To get back on topic. the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which famously keeps auto companies from canceling warranties on Usage or modifications which do not directly effect the system being warrantied. Buy a new Chevrolet and put E85 in it... if the transmission fails GM by law cannot dishonor the warranty on the transmission, because you used an unapproved fuel. unless of course they can show a direct cause and effect relationship. Now put 28" wheels on the car and a transmission fails. there is a possible direct cause and effect.. And the company would be legally able to dishonor the warranty on that transmission.
      Marco Polo
      • 4 Years Ago
      OK, just to clarify something. In most industrialised nations, consumer products always have a period of what's called an inherent warranty. An Inherent warranty lasts must longer than the warranty sold with the vehicle. Basically it only covers faults that occur in the motor vehicle that were design flaws or could have been foreseen at the time of manufacture. It's accepted that some auto-parts will last the life of the motor vehicle (usually accepted to be 7-15 years. (depending on mileage). This is also the period in many jurisdictions when the Automaker is obliged to provide spare parts.
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