Oklahoma dealers and technicians weigh in on the ethanol versus gasoline debate

Tye Thomas is not a fan of ethanol. Thomas is owner of Dano's Conoco on North Grand by Doc Wadley Stadium. The sign in front of his station displaying gasoline prices clearly states in bold, capital letters: "no ethanol."

"People need to understand why some stations [charge] more than others [for fuel]," said Thomas.

He said ethanol is, on average, 20-25 cents less per gallon, but the 10 percent alcohol is less efficient.

"It's not only a personal preference, but you have people who look for it to buy it because of the better fuel mileage," Thomas said, referring to the pure gasoline he sells.

He said this is especially true of older vehicles not built with the possibility of less-than-pure gasoline in mind.

Oklahoma is one of the few states with refineries producing pure gasoline and E10.

"For how long, no body knows that answer," said Thomas. "The oil company could force us to change, but we don't know that yet. Their vehicles don't perform quite as well with tune-ups. People with older motorcycles, boats and lawn mowers don't want the 10 percent alcohol."

Jonathan Jones, owner of J&M Complete Car care, said ethanol is corrosive over time in vehicles not made for E10, but the effects are not instantaneous.

Owners of older vehicles, who often come in with fuel mileage problems, think fueling once with ethanol might have done the damage.

"I have yet to repair a vehicle whose issue was fueling with ethanol," said Jones. "The effects of ethanol happen over an extended period of time."

The total cost of vehicle ownership is affected by fuel mileage, according to Jones, but the actual fuel used is only one of many factors affecting mileage.

"If your car is not getting the same mileage it got when it was brand-new, then there are some issues," said Jones. "It takes an auto technician trained to catch these things to fix them."

Jones gave the example of hybrid cars. If a hybrid owner is driving back and forth to Tulsa every day for work, his mileage is going to be much better than in a different vehicle.

The same hybrid vehicle will have a very different fuel mileage if only driven within city limits, and it will be much less cost-effective.

"Different vehicles are designed to run on different gasoline," said Jones. "If the vehicle is designed to run on ethanol, there is no reason not to use it."

Jones said he sees ethanol as a much more cost-efficient option for car owners -- especially in newer vehicles that are designed to run on ethanol.

Jones believes E10 is not only cost-efficient for vehicles made to run on it, but it is also renewable and very easy to produce. He also believes ethanol is only "a stepping stone" to a more cost-effective, less pollutant fuel.

Thomas disagrees about the cost efficiency of ethanol for individuals or for society at large.

"Those people looking to pay for cheaper gas are paying more for groceries," said Thomas, referring to the food products used to make ethanol. "We all are."

Copyright 2014 - Tahlequah Daily Press, Okla.

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