• Dec 4, 2012
AAA has released a statement urging government regulators to postpone the sale of E15 gasoline until more consumers can be educated on the fuel. According to the organization, 95 percent of drivers polled have never heard of the fuel, which is a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent traditional gasoline. What's more, AAA points out that only around 12 million of the 240 million light duty vehicles on the road today are approved for E15, including 2001 and newer Porsche models, 2012 and newer GM cars and trucks and 2013 Ford products, and that using the fuel in many vehicles could void their warranties.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency mandated pump stickers say the fuel is safe for virtually all vehicles 2001 or newer, but AAA experts warn that using E15 in older vehicles "could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure."

The warning joins the chorus of opposition against the E15 roll out, including governors of states with heavy poultry farming. Farmers warn the year's weak corn crop is too thin to meet demand of both livestock and ethanol production, with a reported 40 percent of the year's corn destined to become fuel.

The ethanol industry has responded by saying the Department of Energy has done extensive testing on E15 by logging more than six million miles on the fuel. The DOE found "no statistically significant loss of vehicle performance (emissions, fuel economy and maintenance issues), attributable to the use of E15."

You can view the full AAA press release below for more information.
Show full PR text
New E15 Gasoline May Damage Vehicles and Cause Consumer Confusion

AAA research reveals need for regulators and industry to suspend E15 sales to protect motorists

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A recent survey by AAA finds a strong likelihood of consumer confusion and the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recent approval of E15 gasoline. An overwhelming 95 percent of consumers surveyed have not heard of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains up to 15 percent ethanol. With little consumer knowledge about E15 and less than five percent of cars on the road approved by automakers to use the fuel, AAA is urging regulators and the industry to stop the sale of E15 until motorists are better protected.

Only about 12 million out of the more than 240 million light-duty vehicles on the roads today are approved by manufacturers to use E15 gasoline, based on a survey conducted by AAA of auto manufacturers. AAA automotive engineering experts also have reviewed the available research and believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage and false "check engine" lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15.

"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 AAA President & CEO Robert Darbelnet. "Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers."

Unsuspecting consumers using E15 could end up with engine problems that might not be covered by their vehicles' warranties. Five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) are on record saying their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15. Eight additional automakers (GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) have stated that the use of E15 does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner's manuals and may void warranty coverage.

The only vehicles currently approved by automakers to use E15 are flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles. These approvals extend only to cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs). The use of E15 is expressly prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers and off-road vehicles.

"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," continued Darbelnet. "Consumers should carefully read pump labels and know their auto manufacturer's recommendations to help prevent any problems from E15."

AAA urges fuel producers and regulators to do a better job of educating consumers about potential dangers before selling E15 gasoline. This outreach should include a consumer education campaign and more effective pump labels, among other potential safeguards to protect consumers and their vehicles. AAA also recommends additional testing to conclusively determine the impact of E15 use on vehicle engines and fuel system components. At least ten gas stations currently sell E15 and that number is expected to grow, which means now is the time to suspend sales before more retailers begin offering the fuel.

The EPA in June officially approved the sale of E15 after receiving a waiver request from producers interested in expanding the use of corn-based ethanol. Despite objections by auto manufacturers, the EPA approved the use of E15 gasoline in flex-fuel vehicles and 2001 model year and newer cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles and SUVs. AAA urges consumers to follow the recommendations of manufacturers to truly protect themselves from voided warranties or potential damage.

AAA supports the development and use of alternative fuels. More than 95 percent of the gasoline sold in the United States contains up to 10 percent ethanol. Lower ethanol blends should remain available to consumers while the challenges with E15 are addressed.

The survey findings related to consumer knowledge of E15 are from a telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1,012 adults comprising 504 men and 508 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.


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  • 110 Comments
      vince
      • 2 Years Ago
      My manual says not to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol.
        m_2012
        • 2 Years Ago
        @vince
        The government doesn't care what the manufacturer thinks. That doesnt make them money.
      gearhead
      • 2 Years Ago
      I worked in the service department of a Luxury car dealership. Many a time I saw the, not extremely, older vehicles come in with the injectors shot or rubber seals corroded due to the ethanol in the gasoline. And this is well before they even began talks of 15%. The total cost to replace, only to have them needing to be replaced again in the future, well over a thousand dollars....Doesn't seem like progress here.....and my dam# food is getting more expensive at the same dam# time....
      Kuro Houou
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just wish they would stop Ethanol use all together or limit it to no more then 10%
      Matt
      • 2 Years Ago
      I get that the gov't wants to get us off foreign oil and all but there are much MUCH better ways of doing this. I dont feel like doing repairs on my car simply because the govt was too lazy and caved to the ethanol lobby.
        cooker263
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Matt
        It's not about foreign oil, it's farmers lobbying for ethanol. The government doesn't really care about you or me, it's about self-preservation and selling out to the highest bidder. It's public choice theory. My dad grows hundreds of acres of corn per year - he doesn't like it either.
      kevsflanagan
      • 2 Years Ago
      That and havent gas station owners been lobbying against this also since they will need to install new pumps and tanks to house this 15% blend? This to me is just silly. Its been shown to ruin carb's, rubber piece's which most older cars have yet they still push Ethanol as a savior. We will ignore also how while pushing corn based ethanol consumes feed stock that cause's our own food costs to go up that we are ignoring other alternatives to ethanol both in terms of fuel and how to create it. But hey whatever throw millions of our tax dollars at it and eventually we'll just submit and believe its good for us... bleh!
      The Wasp
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'll be watching for the first lawsuit from someone saying a gas station and/or the government misled them about whether ethanol would damage their car.
      Jon Smith
      • 2 Years Ago
      The issue to me is that E10 doesnt make my gas any cheaper. There are places near me which offer straight gas, no ethanol, and it comes in at the same price. So there is actually a loss, for myself at least, in buying ethanol gas. I have a newer mazda3 (5spd manual), and on ethanol gas i get between 35 and 36mpg (never more than 36) for my regular commute. On straight gas i get as high as 39mpg. Not a huge difference, but when i'm commuting 300 miles a week on a college budget, it makes a difference.
      joshua meade
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have never trusted the governments data on anything as there is always pushing from those who stand to make some money on this. Repair shops, greenies and whoever else. They don't seem to care if it helps us or not.
      Proghog
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maybe the government shouldn't pay farmers to destory crops or to just not grow crops to keep grain at a certian price. By doing that you wouldn't have problems with being able to feed animals and humans while also making an additive to fuel. We have been using a 10% blend in the Connecticut for quite a while now and it seems to doing just fine.
      razorpit
      • 2 Years Ago
      The ethanol industry has responded by saying the Department of Energy has done extensive testing on E15 by logging more than six million miles on the fuel. The DOE found "no statistically significant loss of vehicle performance (emissions, fuel economy and maintenance issues), attributable to the use of E15." Then why is it when you compare flex fuel vehicles on http://www.fueleconomy.gov E85 vehicles regularly get 8 - 10 MPG less?
        razorpit
        • 2 Years Ago
        @razorpit
        Sorry I meant to say vehicles "running" E85 get 8 - 10 MPG less than on E0.
          chromal
          • 2 Years Ago
          @razorpit
          E85 has an octane rating of 94 to 96 octane, but most flex fuel vehicles can operate on E85 or regular E0/E10 87 octane. The tuning to run either of those fuels is very different from the other, and so to run both, you must intentionally detune the engine for the lowest common demonstrator, e.g.: a compression setup suitable for 87 octane regular. I've only heard of a few engines that could handle both well, such as a variable-compression SAAB engine that saw limited release. Otherwise, if engines were set up specifically FOR E85 (some turbocharged car owners mod their cars to burn cheap race fuel e.g.: E85 at its full potential).
          Sickness
          • 2 Years Ago
          @razorpit
          It's not simply cheap race fuel, many prefer it to race gas regardless of price.
        Allch Chcar
        • 2 Years Ago
        @razorpit
        It is illegal to test fuel economy with anything but test grade Gasoline and 0% Ethanol. The reported fuel economy is then adjusted by the BTU content. Hence why GM was advertising close to Gasoline MPG with E85 in their next generation FFVs but the EPA scores reflected the BTU difference. It's on the EPA website.
      Paul
      • 2 Years Ago
      I LOVE ETHANOL......when it's in my drink. Not so much when it's in my gas. Too much moisture and you end up with annoying phase separation.
      Drakkon
      • 2 Years Ago
      Boat owners everywhere will rejoice if this is shot down. Is there not broad agreement that corn-based ethanol is a gift from congress, not the first choice of chemists or automotive engineers?
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