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Is E15 Gasoline Bad for Your Car (& the Environment)?


With gas prices already sky high in the U.S., President Biden's April 2022 announcement to allow for the sale of higher-ethanol gasoline blends, E15 more specifically, is a move reportedly aimed at (very?) slightly lowering gas prices. But what about the impact to cars and the environment by making such a move, is E15 gasoline bad for your car? We'll break down the pro's and con's of this soon-to-be popular blend of gasoline and hopefully help you make the right decision on deciding to use it, and ultimately to decide on what type of gasoline is truly best for your car.





What is E15 Gasoline

Like many, when the President's announcement on E15 gas came out, most were not familiar with how this differed from the gas already offered at stations. E15 gasoline is basically considered 88-octane fuel that is refined with 85 percent unleaded gas and 15 percent ethanol. However, it is blended primarily for 2001 model year and newer cars and SUVs (with engines that can presumably better handle the higher ethanol mixture). Ethanol has been used in gasoline for many years but typically only at a level of 10% concentration, also known as E10 gas. E15 gas at the higher 15 percent concentration level, or "Unleaded88" as some call it, is not traditionally offered by most major brand gas stations. In fact, up until the President's announcement, you would be hard-pressed to find Unleaded 88 at station unless you went out of your way to look for it! The higher mixture of ethanol to gasoline can make the blend cheaper gas to buy, as the ethanol corn product solution helps limit reliance on oil. But the blend’s higher volatility could be viewed as bad and can have its drawbacks compared to E10 fuel.


Will E15 Gas Hurt Your Car

One of the key complaints by E15 opponents is that ethanol can be bad by corroding many of the plastics, metals, and even rubber components used in internal-combustion engines and fuel systems. In plain language, this can mean using fuel with a higher concentration of ethanol than the manufacturer recommends may damage your vehicle. Therefore, some professional advice on using E15 gas is warranted we would suggest. When you ask the pro's on this question however, the prevailing advice is that car owners should consult their owner's manuals before filling up on E15, especially to make sure you're not doing something that could void your car's warranty later. Therefore, before taking advantage of those few pennies of savings per gallon by filling your tank with e15 fuel we strongly suggest you take a read through your automobile's owner's manual to find out the potential impacts of using Unleaded 88 E15 gas in your car. The trade-off in a small amount of savings may not end up being worth it in the end.


Is E15 Gasoline Bad for the Environment

President Joe Biden's announcement of allowing for more E15 fuel mixture availability has a tie-in to the seasonality of when this gasoline mix is normally sold. And there's a good reason for that. The Clean Air Act currently prohibits sales of E15 in the summer since E15 gas produces more fickle emissions that contribute to form ozone, or smog, than regular blended gasoline blends do. Since the reaction for these to form is driven by sunlight, ozone pollution is worse during the hot summer months. So, why is E15 not sold in the summer traditionally, is primarily due to air pollution concerns and its contributing factors.


Other common questions about E15 gasoline


What type of mileage will I get when using E15, aka, Unleaded 88?

Negligible - it can be expected to see very similar gas mileage efficiency when compared to the use of the more commonly available 90/10 mix of gasoline found at your neighborhood gas station, know also as E10 gas.


Why is E15 gas cheaper?

E15 is typically cheaper than regular unleaded gas that commonly contains 10% ethanol (or E10). It has 15% ethanol while other kinds of gasoline at the pump have only 10%. Ethanol is made from corn, and the higher concentration of corn byproduct usually results in lower per gallon cost.


Can my car run on Unleaded88, E15 gas?

While unleaded 88 technically can be used in any vehicle that is 2001 or newer, it is always best practice to consult your dealer or owner's manual before using it. We have heard concerns of voided warranties if the E15 gasoline blend is used, so best be safe than sorry.


Why is E15 gas not sold in the summer?

This is dictated by the Clean Air Act. Up until the President's announcement to help with 2022 gas price and supply increases, EPA restrictions prevented the sale of E15 fuel from June 1 through September 15 in parts of the U.S. because of its contribution to ozone pollution and smog.


Learn more about E15 gasoline, if it's really bad, and if you should consider using in your car, truck, or SUV.