Automakers continue to quietly void warranties if you use E-15 gas

posted at 10:01 am on February 1, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

It seems to be a growing trend that motorists are shopping around for gas stations which offer ethanol free gas, even if they have to pay a bit more per gallon to get it. Distributors are noticing, and more and more stations are featuring this option. (You can find a list of such stations near you here.) I noticed this myself during a recent trip in New York, and now it’s showing up further south as well.

Arthur Wyckoff III has sworn off alcohol — in his gasoline.

“I make it a point, before I get real low, to make it to a gas station that has 100 percent gas,” the Chickamauga, Ga., man said Thursday morning as he fueled his Toyota Corolla at the Sav-A-Ton on LaFayette Road in Fort Oglethorpe.

The gas station is one of a number in the Chattanooga area that advertise gas free of ethanol. The grain alcohol additive — usually derived from corn — makes up 10 percent of almost all gasoline sold at the pump around the United States.

“The ethanol, it just messes up your engine,” Wyckoff said.

The repeating theme among customers is repeated here. Drivers have become more and more aware that not only is the higher corn gas bad for engine components, it actually costs you money by cutting down on your mileage.

Pure gas means better mpg

There doesn’t seem to be any dispute that pure gasoline delivers better mileage than gas that’s part ethanol.

Mileage suffers by 3 to 4 percent using E10, or gas that’s up to 10 percent ethanol, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

But one factor which some auto shoppers may not be aware of is that the industry is aware of these dangers and they aren’t going to honor warranties on vehicles guzzling the latest 15% ethanol blend unless you’ve got a brand new car or one that is specifically rated as a “flex fuel vehicle.”

AAA and a number of automakers came out swinging against E15, warning that the extra ethanol could corrode plastic, rubber and metal parts in cars not built to handle it.

Five manufacturers — BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen — stated their warranties will not cover E15 claims, the automobile association warned. And eight others — GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo — said that E15 may void warranties.

“Research to date raises serious concerns that E15 … could cause accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel system damage and other problems such as false ‘check engine’ lights,” AAA stated. “The potential damage could result in costly repairs for unsuspecting consumers. This is especially tough for most motorists given that only about 40 percent of Americans have enough in savings to afford a major auto repair.”

We already knew that high levels of ethanol will destroy boat engines and some smaller engines such as those in your lawnmower. But Consumer Reports confirmed back in 2011 that buyer beware. Auto makers won’t pay for damage caused by E-15.

The new orange label displays “E15″ in large type and states that the fuel is for use only in 2001 or newer model-year vehicles or flex-fuel vehicles, and that it is illegal to use it in other vehicles or in power equipment such as lawnmowers.

In response to the release of the labels, nine automakers—including Chrysler, General Motors, and Toyota—wasted no time writing letters to Congress criticizing the proposal and noting that they will not honor warranties for older cars running on E15. The automakers say they are concerned about the effects of E15 on engines, fuel pumps, and other fuel-system components in cars that were not designed for it. (Learn more about ethanol: “The great ethanol debate.”)

In January, the EPA approved the use of E15 in all cars from the 2001 model year on. The only cars that would be warranted for use of the new fuel are flex-fuel vehicles, which are designed to use concentrations of ethanol up to 85 percent (E85).

Keep in mind that you’re paying for this though your tax dollars because of subsidies which continue to keep the “renewable fuels” push not only afloat, but mandatory in most cases. And in exchange for your big hearted investment, unless you do your research, you can see your boat engine, your lawnmower and even your family car producing expensive repair bills. And unless your car is one of the new ones which “qualifies” by way of design, your warranty may be void.

For now – thanks to Uncle Sugar – ethanol free gas is going to cost a bit more at the pump. But the EPA shows no signs of relenting, and until the President who put the current policymakers in place is out of office there’s no relief in sight. It may be worth the extra investment to put real gas in your tank just to avoid the downstream costs later.


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Don’t want no corn squeezin’s in my truck…

OmahaConservative on February 1, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Gas Prices up.
Corn prices up.
Carburetors gunked up.
Engine repairs up.
Car warranties voided.

Good job Scooter.

Ain’t gubmint grand?

fogw on February 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM

If you live in an area that you can find non ethanol I recommend doing a test. Test range with ethanol and without, then price compare and see if the extra mileage is with the extra expense. In my case it is. That is besides any other advantages of non ethanol.

traye on February 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Wow, per Jazz’s link there are only 13 ethanol-free gas stations throughout the entire state of Arizona …

Another example of the failure of free market capitalism! /Leftard

ShainS on February 1, 2014 at 10:09 AM

We have no choice here in the Baltimore metro area. There is no ethanol free alternative. By the time you’ve driven to an area where you may…may find it, you’ve wasted several hours and a half tank of gas.

Douger on February 1, 2014 at 10:11 AM

What a waste, burning it in your engine when you should be drinking it.

merlich on February 1, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Fortunately I have easy access to the pure stuff. I would never run the ethanol stuff in my tools, chainsaws, etc. Stihl is still suing our government over this.

Bmore on February 1, 2014 at 10:17 AM

P.S. I drive a diesel truck. Don’t use gas in vehicles. One exception, the better half’s car.

Bmore on February 1, 2014 at 10:18 AM

(You can find a list of such stations near you here.)

Not really. The nearest one to me is a hundred miles away. Heck, some of the largest metro areas (e.g., Los Angeles) aren’t even represented here!

calbear on February 1, 2014 at 10:30 AM

I made this argument a couple of months ago, and somebody with a degreeeee, poo-pooed me……. liberal greenie no doubt. Probably also hates the pipeline construction.

ultracon on February 1, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Only 6 locations in my entire state, none of which appears to be selling from the pumps, just pricey containers. One service station catering to racers, one marine supply place and four small engine places.

cool breeze on February 1, 2014 at 10:47 AM

There is no doubt about it in my mind, I ended up with almost 30-40 more miles in range on the motorcycle when I fuel up E free

Koa on February 1, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Wow!! 474 stations here in Tennessee.

ny59giants on February 1, 2014 at 11:03 AM

I’ve got a bunch in my area though I already knew it, I’ve been using pure gas in my bikes and Mustang forever.

Bishop on February 1, 2014 at 11:08 AM

I had a 1997 Merceds Benz (which I traded in a month ago) which had a ping that I couldn’t diagnose or eliminate for years. I tried a tank of non-ethanol gas in 2003 and it disappeared and ran like it did when it was new. My range increased approx. 85 miles with a 21 gallon tank and the gas cost about $.25 more per gallon. I will not use ethanol gas in my new vehicle.

ncjetsfan on February 1, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Typical legislative idiocy (government) at work here. First, let’s pass a law requiring all cars to achieve increased MPG in the name of “saving the environment”. Then, let’s pass another law increasing the amount of alcohol in our fuel also in the name of “saving the environment”. Ahh, everyone should feel better now. But, big problem, increased alcohol per gallon decreases MPG. Dopes.

B-Ri on February 1, 2014 at 11:25 AM

You can find a list of such stations near you here

Nothing near the Chicago are, probably by design.

Fallon on February 1, 2014 at 11:26 AM

rv generators are also destroyed by e-15

gerrym51 on February 1, 2014 at 11:27 AM

The only place in 50 miles that sells ethanol free gas charges $15 a gallon…

oddball on February 1, 2014 at 11:40 AM

some listed in Maine are wrong too.

dmacleo on February 1, 2014 at 11:51 AM

and that it is illegal to use it in other vehicles or in power equipment such as lawnmowers.

HUH!?!If I am foolish enough or forced by availability to put this junk into my lawnmower, will a gendarme put me under arrest? What is the penalty for small engine abuse?

More from the “Land of the Free”.

FOWG1 on February 1, 2014 at 11:55 AM

In fairness, there’s a reason to have a few percent of ethanol: to help the fuel burn a bit more cleanly. (The alternative is the highly toxic MTBE.) But you don’t need 15% or even 10% for that. I’m pretty sure that 5% is more than you need.

And if you’re driving on the open road, away from the cities, you probably shouldn’t have to worry about even that. Oh, and that’s where the extra range from alcohol-free gas helps the most.

njcommuter on February 1, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Nothing near the Chicago are, probably by design.

Fallon on February 1, 2014 at 11:26 AM

The EPA mandates that gasoline sold in high pollution areas, such as a large metro area, has an oxygenate such as ethanol or MTBE. To find alcohol-free gasoline you have get outside the area covered by the mandate.

Mileage suffers by 3 to 4 percent using E10, or gas that’s up to 10 percent ethanol, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

Here in Iowa where most stations sell both, E10 currently costs 9% less than pure gasoline.

agmartin on February 1, 2014 at 12:49 PM

There are ZERO pure gasoline stations in the fascist state of NJ. I’m sure everyone is shocked.

njrob on February 1, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Nothing near the Chicago are, probably by design.

Fallon on February 1, 2014 at 11:26 AM

I live here in NW Indiana, and we’re part of the EPA Official Chicago Smog Zone. That means special, more expensive blends of gas in the summer, mandatory pollution control checks on vehicles, etc., ad nauseum…

novaculus on February 1, 2014 at 1:20 PM

A few considerations:

a) Ethanol is a great antidetonant, and a car tuned for it can make more power. Turbo cars love it, and guys who tune turbo cars love E85.

b) It has less energy density than gasoline so you’ll get poorer mileage.

c) The premise of oxygenates (MTBE, ethanol) in gasoline was to fool older cars into burning leaner (decreasing some emissions, increasing others, really) but the ECU and sensors in everything built since the early ’80s adjusts right back to a proper stoichiometric fuel/air ratio anyway so like most things the envirocrowd comes up with the ‘it makes old cars run cleaner’ line has so many qualifications on it as to be meaningless.

d) What automakers are carping about on the warranty issues is that ethanol corrodes aluminum and attacks many kinds of rubber historically used in fuel systems for hoses, seals, etc. This is true even at the 10% concentration typically found now. So everything from fuel hoses to the internal seals in a fuel injector are subject to degradation from alcohol in fuels.

JEM on February 1, 2014 at 1:34 PM

I’ve noticed one station here in Jacksonville that has a few locations with an above ground tanks of ethanol free fuel. I know a lot of lawn mower repair folks have suggested going to it.

Cindy Munford on February 1, 2014 at 1:37 PM

JEM on February 1, 2014 at 1:34 PM

So it’s good for parts of the car and bad for others? But since the people denying warranty are the same people that build the stupid vehicles, I’m not sure that’s a logical explanation.

Cindy Munford on February 1, 2014 at 1:40 PM

But one factor which some auto shoppers may not be aware of is that the industry is aware of these dangers and they aren’t going to honor warranties on vehicles guzzling the latest 15% ethanol blend unless you’ve got a brand new car or one that is specifically rated as a “flex fuel vehicle.”

Actually, it’s flex-fuel vehicles only; my 2012 Toyota Tacoma states right on the gas cap to not put E15 corn-a-hole in the tank.

Steve Eggleston on February 1, 2014 at 1:51 PM

Automakers continue to quietly void warranties if you use E-15 gas

Well, that’s not very “green” of them.

Can there be an executive order coming down the pike I wonder?

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 1, 2014 at 2:13 PM

njcommuter on February 1, 2014 at 12:06 PM

yes ethanols first foray into gasoline was as an oxygenate, and yes again it works fine at low levels and MTBE is very hazardous to groundwater if a station has a leak in its storage tanks (or if you get it on your skin). That said, oxygenates are of far less a necessity in anything built in the past 5-7 years. Modern engine control systems are now so advanced even compared to as little as ten years ago that the additional oxygenation is near a moot point. IOW…we do NOT need to be burning our food OR damaging the components of our vehicles/equipment via said food burning, but I suppose the ethanol lobby has some deeep pockets and friends in high places.
And if you are forced to use an ethanol blend fuel in anything that is idle more than used…do yourself afavor and either use a stabilant or drain the system when not in use. I personally have a vintage motorcycle which is unusable thanks to the fuel eating away at the internal carburetor components…thank you FEDGOV.

NY Conservative on February 1, 2014 at 2:21 PM

seems to help when it’s 25 below zero for cold starts, and only for vehicles in constant use. Other than that, ONLY regular gas.

WryTrvllr on February 1, 2014 at 2:45 PM

“The ethanol, it just messes up your engine,” Wyckoff said.

On older cars and motorcycles, especially cars and motorcycles with carburetors, even at 10% ethanol it causes big problems. It makes the mixture effectively leaner, which boosts the exhaust temps and cooks valve seats and valves. If you are storing a car the ethanol will separate from the gas and settle to the bottom of the tank and eat any in tank fuel pump or fuel sender. It degrades rubber seals, It eats desmodromic valves, it even strips gas tank sealer and runs it through the engine.

Ethanol is a stupid, inefficient government subsody to the corn growing states. It’s only practical effect is to raise food prices. If government would just let the oil industry drill off shore or in public land and exploit our oil recourses Ethanol would go the way of most bad ideas that don’t have government protection.

V7_Sport on February 1, 2014 at 2:57 PM

What this country needs is $10/gal. gasoline that destroys automobiles. EPA to the rescue.

Kenosha Kid on February 1, 2014 at 3:13 PM

If ethanol were such a good thing, why do we put tariffs on foreign-made ethanol from sugar cane, which is made with less energy and with less environmental damage as well as not impacting food prices?

Ethanol is subsidy money for Big Ag. PERIOD. It has no measurable benefits otherwise.

Adjoran on February 1, 2014 at 4:45 PM

but don’t worry, the RINO party is concentrating on the Big Stuff, like amnesty…focusing on the important issues that help their clients..Big Farm, the Chamber…it’s all good if you are a RINO

r keller on February 1, 2014 at 5:07 PM

What this country needs is $10/gal. gasoline that destroys automobiles. EPA to the rescue.

Kenosha Kid on February 1, 2014 at 3:13 PM

We’ve really got to get some new t-shirts so I can send you one.

Jazz Shaw on February 1, 2014 at 5:38 PM

only about 40 percent of Americans have enough in savings to afford a major auto repair

It’s obvious, the time has come to demand Universal Car Coverage – ObamaCAR.

Pole-Cat on February 1, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Here in south west Florida, the cost of straight gas is $1.10 per gallon more. That is about 1/3 more expensive, hardly “slightly more’.

PGI_FL on February 1, 2014 at 9:07 PM

I’ve noticed one station here in Jacksonville that has a few locations with an above ground tanks of ethanol free fuel. I know a lot of lawn mower repair folks have suggested going to it. – Cindy Munford on February 1, 2014 at 1:37 PM

E-10 destroys small engine carburetors. You might want to remember to winterize your lawn mower. Put fuel stabilizer even in all non ethanol gas you use for small engines and in the winter run the gas out of the carburetors. That way you small engines will run when it is time to use them again this spring. I have so many small engines, lawn mowers, chainsaws, weed trimmers, power washers, etc. ………. I’ve learned my lesson a long time ago.

SC.Charlie on February 2, 2014 at 2:55 PM