Car Doctor Q & A: What’s the Deal With E15, E85 and Other Ethanol Fuels?

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Is gasoline with ethanol additives safe for your car? AAA Car Doctor John Paul gives us the lowdown.

Q.Recently I saw a news story that quoted several experts including AAA not to use fuel with ethanol in it as it will damage your car and void the warranty. I have a 2013 Nissan Titan pick-up truck that is the best vehicle I have ever owned and don’t want to damage the engine. Can you verify this warning not to use gas with ethanol?


A.Currently in many states you will find gasoline that contains ethanol as a “clean-air” additive. Current testing shows that fuel with up to 10 percent ethanol is safe to use in nearly any vehicle. The exceptions are, older cars with fuel lines that at not compatible with alcohol. There are also some gas stations that sell gasoline labeled at the pump E-15 and E-85 (15 and 85 percent ethanol). Using this fuel in a vehicle that was not designed for it can cause problems and may in fact void the manufacturer’s warranty. Vehicles designed to run on fuel made with more that 10 percent ethanol are referred to as “Flex-Fuel” vehicles and can safely use gasoline with up to 85 percent ethanol. Some Nissan Titian trucks are in fact Flex-Fuel and are safe to use gasoline with higher amounts of ethanol. That said; if your vehicle is not labeled Flex-Fuel don’t use E-15 or E-85 gasoline.