Mechanics Corner: A Modern Match: Older Vehicles and E15

You’ve probably heard about the shortages the automotive industry is experiencing. Even basic necessities like motor oil have been in short supply, driving up costs and making it difficult to repair vehicles quickly and get them back on the road.

Even more notably, cars themselves are also hard to find. If you’ve shopped for a new or used vehicle in the past six months, you know how rare they’ve become. Finding an affordable car — much less one you actually want — can prove to be quite the challenge. With many used cars approaching twice their book value, some people have been driven to bring out much older vehicles that were parked in a garage for backup or leisure purposes.

A few months ago, these cars were rarely on the road, if at all; however, now that their values have increased, our customers are bringing them to us to check over and make sure they’re roadworthy. Most of the repairs we see would previously have doomed the vehicles for recycling, but thanks to the shortages, they’re now being repaired.

Now that these older cars are being driven regularly again, we’re getting questions about fueling. Most of them are 20 years old, and fuel has changed since the early 2000s. E15 is now found in many more pumps, and as the most affordable option, that’s what people want to reach for — but they want to know if it will be okay for their car. They need an education on the
benefits of bioethanol.

E15 is an excellent choice for these cars. All of us in the automotive industry — from the mechanics to the fuel suppliers — feel comfortable advocating that information. E15 has long been approved for use in 2001 and newer vehicles, but there is a lack of knowledge about using biofuel, as seen by the number of our customers who ask us about it. We often hear, “Is it alright to put E15 in my car?” We even get this question for brand new vehicles with owners’ manuals that clearly state that E15 is allowed.

Our society shares reviews about everything, from the phones we buy to the clothes we wear, but when was the last time we shared anything about the fuel we put in our vehicles?

As a shop that repairs hundreds of cars a month, we see no issues with bioethanol and encourage its use where it’s allowed: in more than 90% of vehicles on the road today.

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