This Texas Auto automotive safety warning is coming from a very unusual source: Webster fire fighting experts. You’ve probably heard of E-85 gasoline. Some newer vehicle models sold in Texas are specifically built to run on E-85 – the rest are not.
E-85 gasoline has been developed to fight air pollution and reduce oil consumption in Texas. E-85 fuel is a mix of 85% ethanol, a grain-base alcohol, and 15% gasoline. So-called Flex-Fuel vehicles are designed to use either normal gasoline or E-85 gas. The result is lower harmful exhaust emissions in our Houston area environment.
All gas engines can run with up to 10% ethanol and in fact a lot of Webster gasoline does contain some ethanol. The problem comes when well meaning Webster without Flex Fuel certified vehicles put E-85 into the tank.
At an 85% concentration, the potential for problems arises. Because of the chemical differences between ethanol and gasoline, special seals and gaskets are needed for Flex Fuel vehicles. In a normal engine, the ethanol in E-85 gas will eat away important seals and gaskets. This leads to gas and oil leaks.
You can imagine the fire hazard caused by leaking gasoline. Texas fire fighting experts caution Webster to only use E-85 if they know they vehicle is certified to handle it.
In fact, service and repair center owners are being warned to purchase fire extinguishers that use the special foam needed to extinguish ethanol fires as a precaution in case starting-up an ethanol damaged engine leads to a fire.
Obviously, this isn’t something you want to have happen in your garage at home, either. If you have a Flex-Fuel certified vehicle, feel free to protect the environment by using E-85 gasoline. If not – please do not use E-85 in an engine that’s designed to run on unleaded gasoline only. If you have questions or want to find out how to determine if you vehicle can safely use E-85, go to www.e85fuel.com for more resources.
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