Some time back, SEMA and other “grassroots” (yet company-funded) organizations sent dire warnings of destruction to our cars, because the EPA was going to allow 15%-ethanol blends to be sold. Never mind that the EPA was ordered by Congress to do this; the EPA was definitely “the bad guys.”
Earlier this week, President Trump announced, as an achievement, that E15 is coming (again). This time, I must say, I’ve only heard crickets. A few car enthusiasts have been upset, but I haven’t gotten the sheer volume of angry mail I got when the EPA made a similar announcement.
First, let’s be straight about the problem with E15: it dries out or corrodes internal components of cars that were not designed for it. If you have a classic car, that means it’s time for new fuel lines and rebuilt carburetors, if you can get E15-safe parts for your particular classic (might be hard on slant-six owners, for example). Supposedly, cars were designed for E15 use starting in 2001, but the AAA, back in 2014, insinuated that it really isn’t safe until the 2012 model year. Popular Mechanics claimed in 2014 that cars made in or after the 2007 model year are safe. As for generators and other small engines, well, that’s another site’s problem.
It’s not just rubber and cork that’s prone to problems, by the way — it’s metal too, as in metal fuel lines. Cars built with fuel injection, up until 2000 or 2011 (depending on who you believe), may be up for some rather expensive repairs/upgrades, if you can find the parts — and if you use E15.
Here’s the most expensive way to avoid E15: get an electric car
Back in 2014, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner lambasted the Obama administration for inflicting E15 on unsuspecting motorists. He’s been very quiet about this latest development.
Apparently, E10 — the current 90% gasoline, 10% ethanol blend — is safe. E15 seems to be one step too far.
This is not the end of the world, any more than it was in 2014. Gas stations label their blends; now you have to pay just a little more attention and avoid E15. Making E15 legal is not a bad thing — as long as it’s not mandatory.
The author of books on the Dodge Viper, Jeep pickups and wagons, and Chrysler minivans (as well as a kid’s book about early Jeeps), David Zatz has been writing about cars and trucks since the early 1990s; he also writes on organizational development and business at toolpack.com and covers Mac statistics software at macstats.org. His latest book, for kids, is Meet the Jeep.
David has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. You can reach him by using our contact form.