By Retha Colclasure, Assistant News Director - email
A new sticker has been popping up on gasoline pumps around Bismarck and Mandan this week. It's telling drivers that the regular, 87 octane unleaded gas is now mixed with 10% ethanol.
While many drivers aren't phased by the change, others want the blend to hit the road.
"This one's a little hot rod," Brian Nelson says of his shiny Mustang parked by a fuel pump in Bismarck.
And he says no way is this gasoline blended with ethanol going to fuel it up. Instead, he looks for a higher octane, like 91, or something with no ethanol in it. But he's not concerned about putting the mixture into his other vehicles.
"I'll run the ethanol blend in my pickup and other two cars," Nelson says.
Other drivers who have been using the blended fuel for years say there may be a slight drop in fuel economy, but that's the only difference they've noticed.
"I haven't had any problems so far," says driver Stu Davis, when asked if he's worried about putting the blend in his car. "I've been doing it for a number of years."
And that's exactly the attitude engine repair shops say drivers should have.
"Most fuel-injected vehicles are able to run anything up to 10%. Anything more than 10% you're going to have to have a flex-fuel vehicle," says technician Wil Norton, who works at Oswald Brothers Auto Repair in Bismarck.
The key word is fuel-injected. Older cars, classic cars, or those that specifically say to not use ethanol can't handle the mixture.
"Some vehicles I wouldn't recommend running in, such as carbureted vehicles have problems," says Norton.
Others point out you also need to keep the blends away from small engines, like those found in lawnmowers, snowmobiles, and boats.
"It burns hotter than regular fuel," explains Bryan Taylor, who runs TLC Small Engine Repair. "Pistons, piston rings, cylinder heads, things like that, over time it eventually destroys them."
Small engines aren't as sophisticated as those found in vehicles, and can't handle the blended fuel.
"Pay 10 cents more and get the stuff without ethanol if you're going to put it in your mowers or snow blowers, anything like that," Taylor advises.
Because in the long run, not upgrading to an octane without ethanol, like premium fuel could cost you even more.
Mechanics say anything higher than a 10% blend can cause damage to a vehicle unless the car is specifically designed for it. They have seen significant damage to engines from drivers who put E-85 in a car that wasn't a flex-fuel vehicle. The easiest way to know what is safe to use in your car is to check your owners manual.
Sunday, March 9 2014 8:57 AM EDT2014-03-09 12:57:59 GMT
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Sunday, March 9 2014 8:50 AM EDT2014-03-09 12:50:18 GMT
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