As more and more consumers choose ethanol at the pump, Bobby Likis, host of Bobby Likis Car Clinic, says there is a continued need to educate mechanics about ethanol. Likis is a 45-year auto veteran who in his shop has worked on more than 200,000 cars and he loves ethanol. He said that most car problems are not caused by ethanol, but by neglect. Likis and I spoke in-depth about ethanol and technicians and following is our discussion.
Q1: How well-versed are today’s auto mechanics when it comes to ethanol fuels?
A: Likis said there is a no question that there is a need for higher education levels around ethanol although states with direct ties to ethanol and agriculture tend to have technicians better informed about the biofuel. Bobby Likis on need for ethanol education
Q2: How familiar are technicians with the basics of ethanol and its assets?
A: Likis said there-in lies the problem. “Most technicians are not even informed about the basics of ethanol,” he replied. “They have been so bombarded by myths promoted by oil companies or uneducated individuals who promote totally unfounded horror stories, that unfortunately many technicians have accepted this water tool fiction as truth.” Ethanol, notes Likis, then becomes an easy blame for technicians who haven’t yet learned or embraced the facts.
The challenge is not only with technicians, Likis continued. “There are many aftermarket companies that prey on unknowing consumers fear and use the ethanol ruins engines myth as a means to sell their pour and pray products.” What exactly are those? Likis explained, “The pour and pray products concept is where people are enticed to buy a product, such as a fuel conditioner, pour it in their gas tank and pray that it fixes their car’s problem.” Likis added, “Cars don’t need to be protected from ethanol, cars love ethanol!” Bobby Likis on mechanics level of ethanol knowledge
It never hurts to take a step back and review the history of ethanol. Likis did so for us and here is a brief, one minute ethanol tutorial.
Bobby Likis' 1 minute ethanol history
Q3: As the auto industry moves to achieve 2025 CAFE Standards of 54.5 mpg, how do/should the industry, or others, keep auto technicians informed about these changing technologies such as higher blends of ethanol?
A: Likis answered that car companies are spending billions of dollars to meet these standards. He said they are moving towards success every day by designing smaller, down speeding, high compression ratio engines that deliver higher mpg and torque with fewer emissions. In the industry its called power density. “To reach the full potential of these engines, we need higher blends of ethanol,” said Likis. A great example is Ford’s Eco-Boost engines.
The real question, said Likis, is how do we educate technicians about ethanol facts? He has delivered ethanol technician modules and his Car Clinic team has developed a series of 60 second features named “Calling all Technicians with 20 Facts About Ethanol.” These are aired during his national broadcast and he shares them with his customers. He said that ethanol and biofuel training needs to be integrated into all technician training curriculum in tech schools and colleges. Bobby Likis on achieving 2025 CAFE standards
Q4: What is the future of ethanol and engines?
A: Cars have been using ethanol since the 1970’s and manufactured to run on ethanol since the 80s, said Likis. Today nearly 80 percent of cars can legally run using E15. “There is no reason why we should not be going forward with ethanol. That’s the future. In order to do that I think we need to start with a younger generation of technicians,” Likis answered. These include programs like his and through the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, through seminars and even, perhaps, through tool companies that travel shop-to-shop and visit with technicians.
Likis adds, “We as technicians need to help our colleagues better understand ethanol.” Bobby Likis on future of ethanol
Bobby leaves us with some positive thoughts. “It’s a bright future. Ethanol is a better fuel for internal combustion engines, than crude-based gasoline. Ethanol helps to clean the air, cleans the engines, provides domestic jobs, reduces our nation’s dependence on foreign regimes. Indeed, ethanol is made in America from American resources and is the cheapest and best octane and oxygenate on the planet!”
Bobby Likis closing thoughts