Special Report: Could More Ethanol Harm Your Vehicle?
ATLANTA -- While ethanol enjoys government backing as a homegrown fuel alternative, some say it has harmed their vehicles.
Right now, four million cars registered in Georgia and built within the last ten years can handle gas made with 50 percent more ethanol, the federal government said. That ruling could bolster the ethanol industry.
On Tuesday, Georgia's lone corn ethanol plant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Ten percent ethanol became the standard Georgia fuel mix in 2007.
Backers say it means more jobs and less dependence on foreign oil. But there are plenty of others who said mixing in more ethanol means trouble.
Driver Donna Johnson shared her own experience in an interview with Channel 2 Action News consumer investigator Jim Strickland.
"I was livid," Johnson said.
She had just spent $1,000 to service her SUV after it sputtered and stalled in her driveway, luckily.
"I was so upset. The thought of me being on a highway with the car stalling out like that; it could have put my life in danger as well as my children," Johnson said.
She had previously taken her car to mechanic Tom O'Donnell.
"We checked the fuel pump and the fuel pump was bad," recalled O'Donnell, whose shop had installed the part just two months earlier.
He showed Strickland the dried remains of the slimy grunge he said ruined Johnson's pump.
"We've seen it happen with many other cars, including my own."
A new fuel pump on O'Donnell's Mercedes Benz lasted only 6 months.
"I think ethanol's playing a big part in this," O'Donnell said.
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