Drivers are getting mixed messages about ethanol blend.
A new blend of ethanol and gasoline may soon show up at the gas station pumps — along with mixed messages on whether it’s safe to put it in your vehicle.
Motorists driving up to pumps for the new, higher-ethanol “E15″ will see government-mandated orange-and-black signs that say the new fuel blend is approved for use in all 2001 and newer cars and light trucks.
Two of the biggest carmakers offer puzzling or contrary messages, right on their gasoline caps. Toyota warns on its 2012 model gas caps not to use E15. Ford offers less-explicit advice.
“When you pull up to the pump it will say you can use this, and then you turn to your gas cap, it says you may not use this — it’s going to be very, very confusing,” said Bob Ebert, service director for Walser Automotive Group in the Twin Cities.
In Congress, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is pushing a bill to halt introduction of E15 and conduct more research. “I think this is outrageous,” he said. “The government is telling consumers to use a product that the manufacturer of their car says will … void the warranty.”
E15, the blend of 15 percent alcohol and 85 percent gasoline, has undergone considerable testing — enough for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to grant a “waiver” allowing its use in newer cars and light trucks.
Stations in Iowa and Kansas could begin selling E15 in May, said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, an ethanol trade association. He insists that consumers needn’t worry.
“E15 is probably the single most studied fuel in the history of EPA waivers,” Dinneen said.