Reader Question: 15 Percent Ethanol?

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

Mark asks: A comment to your old article about ethanol prompted me to ask a question: What do we do when 15 percent ethanol is used and our vehicle is only good for 10 percent ethanol? I have a Suzuki Burgman scooter that’s only rated for the 10 percent ethanol. Many people out there are driving cars only rated for the 10 percent stuff as well. What do we do? What do those of us using vehicles rated for 10 percent ethanol do when the 15 percent ethanol gas is all that’s available?

Furthermore, though I don’t think the gov’t should mandate the use of ethanol, they do so anyway and won’t stop any time soon. That said, if there were going to be any fairness here, any justice, shouldn’t they phase it in over a period of years to account for the fact that many of us are driving vehicles rated for only 10 percent ethanol? Don’t they realize the harm this will cause people?

My reply: Of course they realize it will cause harm; they don’t care – because it serves several purposes of theirs. First, E15 (15 percent ethanol) will accelerate the “retirement” of the “old cars” these people have wanted to get off the roads for a long time. It is a way to do that without formally outlawing them. Instead, just deteriorate them.

Second, E15 is a sop to the powerful ethanol lobby – which controls both wings of the Demopublican Party as tightly as AIPAC. No one gets nominated for national office – or retains it – without bending knee to Big Ag. I have an article on deck about this.

But wait – it gets worse! There is a push for higher-than-E15 as the baseline fuel. This to accommodate the latest very high compression/DI-engined cars (it helps with CAFE compliance, which is why the car manufacturers support it).

The good news is – for now – E10 and even E0 (pure gas, not adulterated with ethanol) ought to be available for some time to come. The problem is it will likely get harder to find it, especially when driving outside your usual area.

The most ironic aspect of this whole mess is that the entire stated premise for the ethanol mandate – reducing dependence on foreign oil – is no longer relevant. America has become the world’s leading producer of oil and is on the verge of becoming a net exporter.

Marc just had a minor stroke…

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

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  1. Thanks, DONALD!

    Gotta love ’em! They take the dick out of your ass (Hold off on the CAFE standards increasing…temporarily)- and then stick it in your mouth![Increasing the ethanol content to destroy your old car faster, while makiung it get worse milkeage, and giving more of your money to socialist farmers to subsidize the ethanol)

  2. Eric, even many LATE MODEL vehicles made in the last 3-4 years are only rated for E10. Those are hardly older cars! Many of their ‘owners’ will also have outstanding loans on them. What are THEY supposed to do when E15 comes out?

    You’ve spoken about how TPTB want to move us into the cities. Even if everyone WANTED to (and they don’t, otherwise they’d already be there), where are they going to live? Where will TPTB-gasp-PUT all these people?

    • Hi Mark,

      Indeed. There are brand-new cars not rated for more than E10. Use E15 and the warranty is void. Marc thinks this is ok. I don’t think it’s ok. His notion that there’s no real (functional issue) using higher-than-E10 in cars specifically not designed for it – that the warranty warnings are just bureaucratic flapdoodle – strikes me as illogical. If all modern cars – including cars not specifically rated to use higher-than-E10 gas – can use it safely what possible reason would there be for the manufacturers to explicitly tell owners not to use it?

      If ethanol is such a boon – as Marc says it is – this makes no sense. If something is a net positive, you tout it to customers. You don’t tell them not to use it.

      Bottom line: Ethanol in our “gas” at 10 percent and up is the result of rent-seeking by crony capitalist cartels. The rest is just non sequituring and posturing.

      • Eric,

        My thoughts are this WRT the manual and its instructions: the people who designed and built the car are smarter than me and know more about it; if they say not to use more than E10, they’re doing it for a REASON, and we should keep that in mind…

        I just checked my owner’s manual for my car, and my car CAN handle E15. Since my car is a 2015, I wasn’t sure if would be able to handle E15. My old 2006 Nissan was only rated for E10. My Burgman is only rated for E10; it’s a 2011, so it’s fairly modern yet. Since Suzuki just updated the Burgman in the last couple of years, a lot of 2nd gen Burgman owners (of which I’m one) will be in a pickle. At least it’s out of warranty, so there’s nothing to void anyway.

        You know, it takes an EVIL person who will deliberately harm people!

        BTW, Marc is, at best, obtuse; I’m being charitable when I say that.

        • Hi Mark,


          The vehicles that will have the most trouble with E15 are pre-1980s – with carbs. Minimally, they will have to be re-jetted (again) and probably need to have their fuel systems upgraded to avoid fires and other such.

          And – again – all of this is contrived. There is no legitimate need/reason to dose “gas” with 15 percent alcohol… other than to obsolesce older vehicles sooner and to make Big Agra even richer.

  3. And with the flooding and associated crop failures in the Midwest, won’t it be great that we’re burning more food while food prices climb? If only their insanity didn’t take me with them….


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