December 4, 2012
The federal government is changing the chemical makeup of gasoline by adding more ethanol. The move is supposed to help protect the environment, but local mechanics warn that it may be hurting cars.
Ethanol is supposed to burn cleaner and help America become less dependent on foreign oil.
"We need a movement towards making the environment better, cleaner, more sustainable for the future," said University of Virginia student Ankit Gupta.
Currently ten percent of the fuel we put in our cars comes from corn-based ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency has now approved raising the blend to 15 percent, called E15.
However, AAA is warning this may damage vehicles, especially older models.
"The government requiring manufacturers to blend their fuels at that high of a rate will cause those new vehicles to deteriorate at a faster rate," said Paul Jaderborg, a mechanic at Settle Tire in Charlottesville. "Therefore the manufacturers of those vehicles will not honor their warranties anymore."
A dozen auto companies, including giants like Honda, Toyota, and Ford, have said that their warranties would not cover damage caused by E15. Jaderborg says during the past five years, he has already seen more cars with problems because of the current level of ethanol in gas. He says a higher ethanol blend will only mean more repairs for his customers.
"It's unfortunate that the consumer is going to have to pay more to maintain their vehicle and I am going to see a lot more of that work here," said Jaderborg. "For my financial well being, it is going to help me a bit."
So far E15 is not for sale in Virginia, but industry experts say it is only a matter of time.