By Stephen Markley on August 29, 2008
Although small amounts of ethanol have been approved for use in all cars, a new problem has afflicted the already-under-fire biofuel: Small-motor damage. Mechanics across the country have begun to speak out about a sharp rise in damage they’re seeing to the motors of boats, lawnmowers, chainsaws and other products that run on small motors.
Ethanol trade groups insist that fuels like E10 have been tested and proven safe, but a growing chorus of mechanics say otherwise, pointing to a gummy substance in motors created by ethanol. This clogs valves and causes small metal parts to rust, destroying carburetors and other crucial components. Even if you drain the gas from the tank between uses, the residue — which is what does all the damage — will remain.
The same process happens in the engines of cars, but these more sophisticated machines are built to handle a certain amount of the residue that causes so much trouble in smaller motors.
There’s no study to testify the truthfulness of these claims, but if ethanol truly is doing this much damage, then many regions of the U.S. could have problems. It’s already difficult in some states to find gas that doesn't contain ethanol, leaving many people with no choice but to use the potentially damaging blend.