Have you heard anything about E-15? Few people are aware of it so far, but most who are tend to express a rather strong opinion about it. Why should anyone have an opinion about fuel? Well, the controversy centers around the fact that some fuel systems and/or engines are damaged by gasoline with a 15% alcohol content (regular gasoline is limited to 10% alcohol). Although even the proponents of E-15 admit it’s not safe for every engine, it’s been difficult to learn which engines and fuel systems are most at risk and what kind of damage they will suffer, because the major participants in this disagreement are spinning the facts to support their own position. There must be someone out there who knows the whole story, but so far I haven’t found an impartial source of information.
Still, the problem is real: the U.S. EPA is requiring the fuel distribution industry to come up with “Misfueling Mitigation Plans.” If you’re old enough to remember when leaded gasoline was still available, you’ll recall introduction of the restrictor plate that fits an unleaded gas pump nozzle but prevents the larger-diameter leaded-gas nozzle from fitting into the filler port. That plan worked largely because only new models needed to be protected from misfueling, and you had to intentionally remove the factory-installed restrictor to put leaded gas into an unleaded-only vehicle. Today it’s just the opposite: the new fuel is expected to be used in existing models, and no matter what Mitigation Plan is adopted, making sure the correct fuel is put into an older vehicle (or non-road engine) will always require the attention of the person wielding the nozzle. Good luck with that. Wouldn’t you like to have a quarter for every time someone puts gas into a diesel tank or vice-versa?
I have my own opinions about high-alcohol fuel, based partly on fear (I own some older engines) and partly on the fact that a LOT of money is being spent to convince people it’s OK or not OK. What I don’t have is real-world information about high-alcohol fuel. So if you have any personal experience with E-15 or any other high-alcohol motor fuel, tell us what you’ve learned.
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The 34th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Be the Best of the Best will take place January 16-18 2014 at the Sheraton New Orleans.