AAA is urging regulators to stop the sale of E15 gasoline until motorists are better protected, saying research indicates a strong likelihood of consumer confusion, as well as the potential for voided warranties and vehicle damage. AAA says that 95 percent of consumers surveyed have not heard of E15, a newly approved gasoline blend that contains as much as 15 percent ethanol.
According to AAA, its automotive engineering experts believe that sustained use of E15 in both newer and older vehicles could result in significant problems such as accelerated engine wear and failure, fuel-system damage, and false “check engine” lights for any vehicle not approved by its manufacturer to use E15.
“It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many motorists may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle,” said AAA president and CEO Robert Darbelnet. “Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers.”
AAA says five manufacturers (BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) are on record saying that their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by the use of E15. Eight additional automakers (General Motors, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo) have stated that the use of E15 does not comply with the fuel requirements specified in their owner’s manuals and may void warranty coverage.
Less than 5 percent of cars on the road are approved by automakers to use the fuel.
The only vehicles currently approved by automakers to use E15 are flex-fuel models, 2001 model-year and newer Porsches, 2012 model-year and newer GM vehicles, and 2013 model-year Ford vehicles. These approvals extend only to cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs). The use of E15 is prohibited in heavy-duty vehicles, boats, motorcycles, power equipment, lawn mowers and off-road vehicles.
AAA urges fuel producers and regulators to do a better job of educating consumers about potential dangers before selling E15 gasoline. This outreach, the association says, should include a consumer education campaign and more effective pump labels, among other potential safeguards to protect consumers and their vehicles. AAA also recommends additional testing to conclusively determine the impact of E15 use on vehicle engines and fuel system components.
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