Latest Reader Question (April 9, 2018)

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Eric asks: I have a Mercedes Sprinter Van (RV) that requires less than 5 percent Biodiesel. Stations are not required to label fuel containing 5 percent or less Bio. Many fellow RV’ers are reporting finding only B20 which will damage the pollution controls. Is there any way to verify which suppliers carry 5 percent or less Biodiesel?

My reply: When you write that fellow RV drivers “are reporting finding only B20,” does that mean the stations they encountered only carried B20? As opposed to finding B20 in the tanks of the RVs, after assuming it was normal diesel (5 percent or less biodiesel) they pumped in their vehicles?

Federal law requires clear labeling of fuel pumps to indicate what’s being pumped when the fuel contains 5 percent or more biodiesel.

See here.

Just as gas pumps are required to post ethanol content. Most “gas” is E10 – or 10 percent ethanol and it’s acceptable for use in most vehicles. But E15 or E85 (15 percent ethanol and 85 percent ethanol, respectively) will cause damage in vehicles not designed to handle them and void the manufacturer’s warranty.

The same goes for biodiesel over 5 percent and for the same reasons. Hence the need for clear labeling.

Here is a link to some detailed info about biodiesel published by Uncle.

“Up to 5 percent” should be ok. But if a station sold B20 or B100 without advertising the fact, I would expect they are liable for any damage caused to your vehicle.

Regardless, I would always ask before pumping if you have any question about it. I would also use your phone to snap a pic of the pump, to show the label – or its absence – just in case you have a problem later on.

And keep your receipt!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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