Car Clinic Expert Dispels Ethanol Myths

John Davis

likis-smallA recent attack on ethanol by a so-called automobile expert has been answered by a true car maestro who knows the value of the green fuel. Bobby Likis of the Car Clinic Car-Talk Network blasted Lauren Fix and her claims against ethanol.

Yes, something needs to be fixed. And it’s not ethanol. What needs to be fixed is the egregiously incorrect perception of ethanol like that perpetuated by Lauren Fix, whether spurred by naiveté, ignorance or special interest. Ms. Fix’s mutations of the truth are analogous to clinging to “the world is flat” and are so insidiously woven through her interview that extracting and correcting all of the fallacies would take more than Columbus and his three little ships…

Likis stakes his 44 years of experience as an award-winning automotive service shop owner with more than 200,000 vehicles (from classics to hybrids) rolling through the bays; rear-end dragster / engine builder; car-talk host answering more than 100,000 car questions live on radio, television, web & social media against Fix’s spurious claims.

1. Perception / Myth / Ms. Fix:
Corn was not designed to run through engines; ethanol-blended fuels must have fuel additives to ensure burn (mentioning three brands specifically and stating that car owners need to add one of these additives to every tankful of E10); ethanol is so damaging that it is not used in race cars.

These overwhelming no-merit statements are not based on fact. Henry Ford’s first car “1896 Quadricycle” ran on E100 (100% ethanol). And Mr. Ford’s 1908 Model-T was America’s first Flex-Fuel car. E15 is the most tested fuel ever…to the tune of the equivalent of 12 round trips to the moon (6 million miles). No discernable difference was found in engine wear between E15 and other test fuels in the tested model years (2001 and later). NASCAR powers its cars with E15 fuel (85% gasoline with 15% ethanol). Indy racecars run E98. Why 98% rather than 100%? Glad you asked. By adding 2% gasoline, pit crews would be able to see smoke in case there’s a fire. Ethanol burns so cleanly that 100% would be all but invisible to spot if a fire did break out, which can happen when cars going 225 mph run into each other or the wall.

Speaking of clean burning, ethanol replaced MTBE (which replaced lead in gasoline) as an oxygenate. By adding 10% ethanol to gasoline, many cities are able to reach clean air requirements that otherwise would not be possible. Ford’s EcoBoost and GM’s Ecotec engines thirst for high octane, and ethanol delivers. Thousands of car owners across America who drive high-performance (but non-flex-fuel) vehicles on the street want an E85 option. One example is my General Manager who owns a 2015 Subaru WRX STI diligently searched for E85. Why? E85 adds another 70 HP and 100 lbft torque to the existing 346 HP, all-wheel vehicle. Ethanol – with its 113 octane rating – is an enabler of power & performance.

Likis goes on to destroy Fix’s claims that ethanol destroys Air Mass Sensors and O2 Sensors, that the green fuel causes free-standing water in fuel, and that ethanol destroys engines.

So, the world is not flat. And egregiously incorrect perceptions of ethanol need to be fixed. We as a country need to be power-moving toward economic independence, superior engine design, cleaner air and fuel economy. A future which Facts show that Ethanol enables.

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