Ethanol is a “mixed” blessing. Adding this fuel, which is typically made from corn, to gasoline can help lower the cost of a tank of gas…boost the fuel’s octane (the amount of compression it can withstand before igniting, important for performance vehicles with high-compression engines)…and decrease our dependence on global oil markets.
On the other hand, ethanol contains about 25% to 30% less energy per gallon than pure gasoline, which may reduce fuel efficiency. And some engines are not engineered for ethanol and so are susceptible to damage from the added wear and tear on components.
According to the EPA, most vehicles built in 2001 or later can handle up to 15% ethanol, an increasingly popular blend marketed as E15 or Unleaded 88. But some manufacturers advise against fuel exceeding 10% ethanol. Before topping off your gas tank with E15, check your owner’s manual—no one knows better than your car’s manufacturer.
Caution: Smaller engines in motorcycles, outboard motors, leaf blowers, lawnmowers and other vehicles and equipment are susceptible to damage from ethanol.
To find ethanol-free gas: Locations of stations with ethanol-free pumps can be found at Pure-Gas.org. And the Pure Gas app allows you to tap on a nearby ethanol-free station and get driving directions to it. But keep in mind—a station could change its offerings at any time.
Tip: Look for gas stations located near lakes and beaches. Reason: Ethanol-free fuel is in demand for boats. (Just avoid marinas that charge high prices for their captive customers.)