AAA warns drivers about new Ethanol fuel blend

Group says E15 could damage vehicles

By Lisa Bell - Anchor
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ORLANDO, Fla. - AAA, one of the biggest automotive groups, wants to stop the sale of E15 fuel that people are putting in their cars because they say the fuel could damage vehicles.

In June, the Environmental Protection Agency officially approved the sale of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains up to 15% ethanol.

Currently, Florida requires gas be blended with 10% ethanol.

A Citgo gas station near I-4 and Michigan Street is one of only a handful of stations in Orlando that sells ethanol-free fuel.

Jerry Williams uses ethanol-free fuel to fill up his prized BMW motorcycle, even though it cost $.68 more a gallon.

"Because the motorcycle runs better with it and it's less damaging to the engine," said Williams.

He's not the only one who feels that way.

Dave McKinney repairs lawn equipment at Trail, Saw and Mower in Orlando. He says the moment ethanol-blended fuel came on the market, the affect on carburetors was crystal clear.

"Eighty percent of our carburetor problems are ethanol-related," said McKinney.
McKinney says the problem is that ethanol is highly corrosive, causes rust and degrades rubber. Most older vehicles as well as smaller engines in lawn equipment, motorcycles and boats simply can't tolerate the E10 blend that's mandated by Florida law.

Stacks of ethanol-damaged parts have piled up in McKinney's shop.

AAA is concerned that by adding even more ethanol to gas, up to 15 percent, the problems will only grow and extend to most vehicles on the road.

In fact, AAA says five auto manufacturers, BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have already said their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15.

Right now, E15 is only being sold in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, which is why AAA wants the government to suspend sales now, do more testing on how E15 will effect car engines and provide better labeling at pumps, before more people start using it.

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