SEMA issues urgent alert regarding E15 gasoline

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Be careful to check the pump before you fill this car this summer | Hagerty photo by Sabrina Hyde

“Urgent Regulatory Alert. Take Action Now” the SEMA Auction Network urges in the aftermath of a federal Environmental Protection Agency proposal last week to allow the sale of E15 fuel during the summer driving season.

“If finalized, the EPA would overturn its long-standing prohibition on the sale of E15 during high-ozone season by allowing the fuel to use the 1 pound per square inch Reid Vapor Pressure waver, which currently allows E10 sales during the summer months,” the SEMA bulletin says.

“The EPA’s effort to allow year-round E15 sales would expand the number of gas stations selling gasoline blended with higher amount of ethanol,” the bulletin adds.

Under the banner of “Fight Unfair Automotive Laws,” SEMA has set up a special website with guidelines and links for contacting the EPA, and for doing so by April 22, the deadline for public comments on the proposed change in regulations.

Also responding to the proposed change is Hagerty, with an article on its website: “E15 ethanol is coming, like it or not. Here’s what you need to know.” 

“Owners of collector cars, or any vehicle built before 2001, beware: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing a rule approving the sale of E15 gasoline year-round, so use extra care when gassing up this summer,” the Hagerty article reported. 

“In the United States, ninety-eight percent of gasoline sold already contains some amount of ethanol,” it continued. “Cars produced in the past two decades or so generally have no problem burning the common E10 blend, which contains 10 percent ethanol. Some stations have offered E15, which bumps the amount of ethanol to 15 percent, since 2005, but the EPA had previously banned its sale during the summer amid concerns that it contributed to the creation of smog.

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“The change won’t happen overnight, and you’ll still be able to get E10. Still, motorists will want to be mindful when filling up. Not all cars can handle the higher concentration of ethanol, which can gum up fuel systems and cause corrosion in cars that haven’t been designed to burn it.”

And it’s not only owners of collector cars who need to be concerned, Hagerty added. While many automakers are producing cars with fuel systems prepared for E15, Hagerty notes that Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mazda and Volvo have not, with the exception of the new FlexFuel vehicles Mercedes is offering for the 2019 model year.

Hagerty also notes that ethanol can damage not only metal but plastic components in a vehicle’s fuel system, encouraging corrosion and gumming up filters and carburetors, even dissolving rust in a fuel tank and allowing it to enter the fuel system.

Fuel pumps should have stickers identifying the amount of ethanol blended into the gasoline. 

Ethanol is a form of alcohol, usually made from corn, that can be used in internal combustion engines, for example, Indy racing cars, which run on a fuel blend with 85 percent ethanol.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

6 COMMENTS

  1. well, I was wondering are there going to be gas stations that still have the real gas? Is there maybe a web site people can go to to find real gas at stations in every state?

  2. What’s this? A Trümpenfüerer bone thrown to the farmers he hosed with his trade-tantrum with China?
    The "NEW! IMPROVED! EPA!" now wants us to use fuel they already warned significantly contibutes to smog creation, and damages many fuel systems as well, at what cost?
    I can see it’s going to take years, maybe decades to repair the damage done to our country, our overseas image, and the environment- if any of these can be fixed.
    Now my old GTO has to be at risk, too?
    Give me strength.
    -R
    Fargo ND

  3. All cars on the road can handle E15 and higher. How do I know for sure?

    From the 1920’s through most of the 1970’s ethanol-gasoline blends up to E30 were sold in Britain by Standard Oil/Esso and Cities Service. It was marketed as being safer, cleaner, more powerful, and less expensive than ethanol-free gasolines. This means all the classic British cars were capable of using ethanol-gasoline blends. If a 1950’s Rolls Royce Silver Cloud (for example), or a 1940’s MG could use E30 back then, why would they not be able to be used now? If a 1960’s Mercedes could use "power alcohol" gasoline back then, why not now?

    Brazil’s cars are the same as the cars available in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. They been using ethanol-gasoline blends of E15 and higher as their standard fuel since 1978…that’s 41 years. Their standard blend has been at least E20 since 1993…that’s 26 years. If a 1995 Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang could run safely and efficiently on E22 or E27 in Brazil, it can run safely and efficiently on E15 in America.

  4. I suggest you read this article on ethanol usage in the world. Does it contribute to pollution? Yes, but no more than gasoline does. Does it harm your cars engine? Yes unless you have it adjusted for ethanol usage. Is it more expensive? No its actually cheaper to produce and buy at the pump than is Gasoline. So here is a link with some facts for those who would say poo poo on ethanol only cars and trucks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_by_country

    • Ethanol does not damage a car’s engine. Ethanol is compatible with more types of rubber, plastic, and metal than gasoline and aromatics.

  5. I live in Iowa and I’ve been using ethanol for decades in everything from my lawnmower to my XKE, 928’s, and everything else. Despite the hype, I’ve never had an issue with it. Not once.

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