Is E15 gasoline safe for your car?

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Sheetz stores in the Midstate have begun selling E15 fuel, a blend of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline the EPA approved for select cars in 2012.

However, the American Automobile Association says only about 10 percent of cars can handle E15 gas. AAA says E15 is “only approved for use by automakers in flex-fuel engines, 2001 and newer Porsches, and selected 2012 and newer vehicles where it is clearly specified in the owner’s manual.”

AAA says improper use could result in serious car troubles like accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage, and false check engine lights.

So, ABC27 News went to the pumps to see if people knew the dangers. Most didn’t even know what E15 stands for.

“I know my husband has a co-worker whose daughter put it in her car, and she shouldn’t have, and it messed up her engine,” Heather Drevk said as she fueled up at the Sheetz on Carlisle Pike.

Others tried – and failed – to guess what E15 stands for, but we found someone who did: car mechanic Bill Raber.

“What it is, it’s an additive that’s put into everyday gas,” Raber said.

He showed us a motorcycle that used ethanol-based fuel like E15 and it rusted the gas tank completely.

“This gentlemen will have to put out $500 to $600 bucks to fix this, or more,” he said.

Raber says it’s important to make sure your car can handle E15.

“When you pop the gas cap open, it’ll say on the cap itself E10 – E15 or E10 – E85 Flex Fuels,” he said.

The EPA told us E15 fuel can be used in car models after 2001, light trucks, and medium-duty vehicles, but AAA says more than 90 percent of cars on the road could see serious engine and fuel system damage from E15 fuel. The organization is urging the industry to get rid of E15 because of confusion.

“Fuel pumps are the biggest thing we’ve been putting in at our car shop for ethanol issues,” Raber said.

It’s very important to make sure your car can handle E15 fuel before you pump it into your tank. If you have any questions, Sheetz has brochures at every pump.

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