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JLeslie's avatar

Anyone else annoyed they put 10% ethanol in our gas in the US, and might increase it to 15%?

Asked by JLeslie (65330points) August 17th, 2011

Do you trust it is not harming the car?

Do you want to have the choice to spend more and buy gas without the ethanol?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

25 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

I’m still not convinced it really helps with anything other than giving corn growers an excuse to grow more corn.

funkdaddy's avatar

Annoyed that they’re utilizing an easily renewable resource instead of a non-renewable one? No.

It doesn’t hurt your car. Several types of cars are designed to run up to 85% ethanol I believe.

You can argue against subsidies or the efficiency of transport, but 15% less fossil fuel is 15% longer it’s even an option. Corn will still be here in 100 years, we can’t say that for sure about oil.

woodcutter's avatar

But does it save money? I have no idea how they make gas other than they use oil but when you figure in the corn subsidies and the extra work and cost it takes to blend it in with the real gas is it really gaining anything big enough to offset those costs? Would plain old gas cost less?

XD's avatar

I’ve heard ethanol wrecks fuel injectors over time, but I can’t confirm it. On the general subject, I’m more annoyed that fuel efficiency technology has been suppressed.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@funkdaddy, if it didn’t take .98 gallons of petroleum to create a gallon of ethanol you might be correct. There are several ethanol plants near me.

It doesn’t save money, if it did the government would not have to subsidize it.

But the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that they use on the corn to make it grow are almost all petroleum based, which negates most of the savings that you get on the other end.

woodcutter's avatar

Would it be feasible to utilize the money currently used for the ethanol production and instead use it for research and exploration to get at the hard to reach oil reserves since most of the easy oil is gone?

ETpro's avatar

By my best guess, the carbon footprint of corn is about the same as gasoline (petrol for those outside the USA). And I don’t think it’s saving us any money. It is a masssive taxpayer subsidy for big agribusiness, I think.

But it can be done smarter. Brazil started shifting to ehtanol in the 1970s when the Arab Oil Embargo threatened the non OPEC world’s economy. They haven[‘t let up cince, and they have learned a great deal. By 2008 their sugar-can based ethanol was powering 50% of the nation’s transportation equipment. With domestically produced deep-water drilling of oil, they hit energy self-sufficiency in 2006. So the US needs top work smarter.We are second Brazil in production today, but nowhere near them in efficiency. Water supply is the biggest drain on efficiency, and they perfected a process that recycles all water consumed and actually produces excess water.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Ethanol was profitable when gas was about $2.08 or less a gallon in the US. Now that it is at or near $4 a gallon, the 10% ethanol no longer is cost effective to produce and use.

The biggest thing effecting fuel economy right now is the government insisting on fuel injection. The last vehicle I owned that was carbureted instead of fuel injected go nearly 3 times the fuel economy that I get now.

funkdaddy's avatar

@WestRiverrat – a lot of that argument is based on the fact that the machinery used to grow the plant stock, process it into fuel, and transport it is assumed to use 100% petroleum fuel.

Use less petroleum in that mix and you reduce the exaggerated disparity.

Any alternative fuel is going to face the same initial problem. Oil has been around forever and has developed an efficient transport system. Those pipelines, gas stations, holding tanks, refineries, fuel tankers, and drilling platforms don’t run on dreams or unicorn tears either but no one is figuring those costs or subsidies into the cost of gasoline. It’s just accepted and expected.

An alternative has to be found, in the mean time, stretch what we have with other methods. It’s all cheaper than $8/gal gas.

@WestRiverrat – you’re kidding on going back to carburetors right?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@funkdaddy The same make and model of car just a newer edition, I got 60 mpg with the carb and I get 22 with the EFI. Why wouldn’t I want to go back?

jerv's avatar


First off, it’s proven that your MPG will drop.

Second, it does hurt many cars, especially older ones that were never designed to have a corrosive fuel. Germany only uses 5% maximum for that reason; they don’t want to destroy their citizen’s cars. (Many Germans have older cars.)

Every car I’ve had has had issues that can be attributed to running ethanol. I had a couple that would run like horseshit on E-10 so I would travel about 20 miles South to where they stil sold the old gas, and all of those issues went away until the next time I filled up with E10.

If the government will modify my car to run E10 without damage then I might go along with it. As it stands, I want my Constitutional right to a redress of grievances and would like the government to pay for the added fuel costs, maintenance requirements, and repairs that their actions have caused.

@funkdaddy Halving gas costs while wrecking engines is false savings. Or are you offering to buy me a car?
As for carbs versus EFI, my carburated Corolla gets 25–30 MPG depending on how much of a jackass I am; not bad for a car over 25 years old, abused for most of that, and running a fuel it was never designed for. Those I’ve had with EFI never did better than 28.5 MPG, and often closer to 23.

funkdaddy's avatar

@jerv sure… I’ll buy you a 2001 whatever with all the modern goodies… you buy my gas when it tops $6/gal… deal?

Your carbureted cars may have gotten great gas mileage, but there’s a certain amount of energy in that gas and fuel injection systems today turn that energy into power more efficiently than carburetors used to. So the older model either produced a lot less power or weighed significantly less. Probably a combination of both.

That 1980 straight 6 putting out 110hp has probably been replaced by a 280hp V8 in the newer model, and the new one weighs 150% of the old.

An injected engine with a similar output put into a car of similar weight will get better gas mileage.

Leaded gas, carburetors, and no catalytic converters for everyone. Just don’t go outside during rush hour. And don’t worry about the oil, someone else will figure it out.

jerv's avatar

@funkdaddy I run unleaded and a cat, as my car was designed at the factory to do.

Now, I am quite aware of the power differences and all, but I don’t want to digress too much. My point is that your car won’t be destroyed; mine will. That destruction would not happen if not for ethanol., therefore those pushing for ethanol need to factor in the other costs unless they want to be total dicks.

As for the injection, I am merely pointing out that it really doesn’t matter. See, I can go at highway speeds either way. And every car I’ve had except for two were injected. Guess what? All of them (carb or EFI) were in the 90–135 HP range, and if you care about MPG then you don’t need more than that in a normal car.

However, the ECU is often programmed by a retarded rhododendron, so I would rather go straight electric. At least with a Zilla controller I can avoid that issue.

Oh. FYI, my 1985 90HP 2250 pound carb car gets better MPG than all but one of the EFI cars I’ve owned; 92 HP 2200 pounder, 100 HP 2460 pounder, 122 HP 2600 pounder… all worse. The only one to beat it was my 108 HP 3200 pound 4WD, but that was a Honda. No offense, but I will take my experience over your theory. FWIW, I used to think the same way you do.. until I was proven wrong.

flutherother's avatar

I am annoyed because ethanol comes from corn which should be used to feed people and keep food prices low rather than helping to fill the gas tanks of SUV’s. Expansion in US corn acreage is failing to meet the demand for feed and ethanol thereby driving up prices.

tedd's avatar

It has pros and cons.

Pros: It’s cheaper than gasoline, and will become even cheaper as fossil fuels become harder to find. It uses our corn supply, which we literally have so much that the government pays some farmers to not grow any on certain years.

Cons: While its not “bad” for your car so to say, it does wear down the seals on your engine faster (not like one tank of it is going to blow your car up, but over the life of the car it will shorten the lifespan of non-metal seals).

WestRiverrat's avatar

@flutherother the corn used for ethanol does not meet the USDA standards for human consumption. At best it would be feed for cattle, poultry or hogs.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

My “new” car, a 2010, will not run on anything above 10% ethanol.
The owners manual says pump only 10 % ethanol or pure gasoline. Damage will occur, so… more than annoyed !

woodcutter's avatar

@WestRiverrat True that, but the edible corn could be grown in the same dirt?

jerv's avatar

@tedd It depends on the car. I tend to have spark knock issues that even premium gas and retarding the ignition won’t solve. I’ve had that with nearly every car I’ve owned, so I know it’s not the engine. The problem disappeared whenever I ran non-ethanol fuels when that was stol an option. Spark knock will damage your engine fairly quickly; the old RX7 would require an engine rebuild after only a second or two. Piston engines are tougher, but it still does bad things to them.

tedd's avatar

@jerv . . . riiigggghhhhhtttttt

flutherother's avatar

@WestRiverrat That’s my point. This land could be used to grow food for human consumption.

lizardking's avatar

We are paying close to $4.00 a gallon, it does kinda piss me off that my fuel is being cut. How would you like to pay full price for a shot of high dollar liquor and have it cut with Ripple?
And what happens to the %10 or %15 they are saving in a tanker somewhere, maybe our future $10. a gallon.

jerv's avatar

@tedd As I said before, I trust my own experiences, however odd they may be, over any theory. Also, look up the word “hydroscopic” ;)

Just out of curiosity, does anybody here honestly think that the pump price will be held down by ethanol anyways? Look at how little of the price of gas is actually oil as opposed to refining (something ethanol also needs; we can’t just shove corn cobs in our tank), state taxes, profit, federal taxes, delivery charges, etcetera. Now tell me you don’t see the gas companies still finding a way to have prices rise.

Also note that ethanol has a lower energy content per gallon, so we are talking reduced MPG. Lower MPG + same cost per gallon = more $/gallon, so even if you have a car that is built for it, ethanol isn’t great.

woodcutter's avatar

It will be planned obsolescence by the auto makers knowing the new formula will eat up older cars and get them off the road. If they can do that ( use corn to make motor fuel) then why not use hemp to make motor fuel. It could be done if the will was there. Then nobody will complain,as much.

jerv's avatar

… except for the people who can’t afford a new car and those who prefer the older ones.

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