Mechanics Corner: Bioethanol: Try It for Yourself

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Or can you? We mistakenly assumed that everyone in our close circle of mechanics was fully versed and confident on the use of biofuels like bioethanol. As it turns out, we still have some work to do.

Recently one of our friends — who we assumed was confident and assured after years of using bioethanol in his own car — came to me with repairs needed to his car. After we made them, he dropped the bomb on us. “Do you think that bioethanol caused this?” He was serious, and we were genuinely concerned. We had to know why he would even ask this question after years of his own use, and his peers assuring him that it was good for his car.

Then came the answer. “Well, my dad always said it was bad for my car and still does, and I guess I am still just wondering if he is right.”

How many of those who work in the industry right now are asking the same questions when they work with biofuel and promote its use every day? As they pull up to the pump, do they secretly choose a bio-free option? When something has been engrained in our upbringing, it can be extremely hard to reverse.

In training, mechanics become experts in vehicle engines, but not necessarily in fuels. Most programs spend minimal, if any, time on the differences between different fuels and what is best for vehicles. That means that often times, if a false statement about fuel is made, especially when it’s passed down through time, the facts can be hard to accept.

We spent a half hour explaining the failed system on our friend’s vehicle, and how and why bioethanol could not play a role in the damage. After seeing the evidence, he agreed that it all made sense, but it does prove a point. Even those who work alongside mechanics and should be most receptive are sometimes not.

As we have said before, when used correctly, we have never seen a vehicle come into our shop that needed repairs due to damage caused by bioethanol.

Choosing biofuel to keep your engine burning cleaner and save money at the pump is a good choice. But after years of hearing misinformation about the fuel — it is going to take real education to get people, even some mechanics, to change their minds.

If you are skeptical for any reason and work in the industry, we encourage you to ask someone who knows the facts about cars and biofuels. If you do run into people who are quick to answer that biofuels are bad for your car, ask them how they learned that. Don’t just accept their opinion as fact.

The Under The Hood radio show is America’s Favorite Car-talk show heard on over 250 stations, YouTube and a podcast. The Motor Medics, Russ, Chris and Shannon, are three great friends having fun and offering a wide range of automotive advice without the aid of in-studio computers or reference guides.

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