Mechanics Corner: Ethanol Is the Fuel of Cars, Conversations

Ethanol is the fuel that feeds not only our engines’ fire but also the fire of many conversations. It is our belief that ethanol is the fuel that can make a difference in our future. It’s clean burning, renewable and good for our vehicles. That is what we believe now, but even as mechanics we needed education first to reach that conclusion.

In 1990, when I came to South Dakota, one of the first things I noticed was a difference at the fuel pump.

The pump read “contains ethanol.” I wasn’t sure what it meant, so I asked and received a mix of everything from love to hate.

I had been a mechanic for a while and I had to make a choice, and my choice was to use ethanol. My car was a carbureted 1979 Chevrolet. While driving it for another 15 years, I never had an issue with it due to the fuel. I spent a large amount of time over those years as a mechanic and attending trainings from manufacturers and independent trainers. Working with mechanics, technicians often discussed ethanol. Cars would come in, and when a drivability issue couldn’t be nailed down as one specific thing, a lot of techs would say, “It has to be the fuel, so try non-ethanol gas.” I have now been a mechanic for over 30 years, and while some views on ethanol have changed, others have not. Unfortunately, most of it is based solely on opinion.   

As the working manager of an automotive service center, it is my job to pass on accurate information to my customers. Consumers want to know how to care for their vehicles, and theNo.1sourcefortheirinformationisoftentheshopthat services their vehicle. As the host of Under The Hood, my partners and myself also are a source of that information over the radio where listeners tune in to learn more about their cars without having to go into their shop. From those conversations we find that many shops have told them to not use ethanol so they are leery of it and switch between 10 percent and no ethanol or buying premium non-ethanol fuel when their car didn’t require it. Under The Hood is not about politics; it’s about what’s good for your car. We will continue to bring our listeners information that helps them save money and keep their car running as best as it can.

We believe there is a need for educating both the mechanics and general consumer. For years we have listened to mechanics and consumers who have said ethanol is bad. But when you ask them why, they can’t give an educated answer derived from independent testing. Rather, it’s from word of mouth. As a mechanic and talk show host, I strive to know more. I look at many test results and ask my friends who are mechanics to show me evidence of parts that failed due to ethanol. All of the results I found reaffirm my decision that ethanol is the best choice for a car’s fuel. I will continue to research and study findings as automobiles change.




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