Gas Price Spike, Ethanol Blend Issue Not Discouraging Labor Day Travel

Sep 4, 2016

AAA Oklahoma says more than 400,000 state residents will travel at least 50 miles over the Labor Day holiday weekend – the highest number since 2008.

Spokesman Chuck Mai said 96 percent of that figure will travel by car, and even though gas prices are up about $0.20 since August 1, he thinks many drivers are encouraged by gas prices about $0.19 below the 2015 Labor Day holiday.

He also says he doesn’t think last month’s distribution tainted gasoline will affect gas prices. Magellan Midstream Partners sent out 450,000 gallons of gas containing as much as 30 percent ethanol, which is three times the amount typically found in most blends.

Magellan's Consumer Hotline: 1 (855) 378-9466.

Mai credited Magellan for bringing the issue to the attention of regulators, and honoring consumer claims.

“We're seeing very few reports of collateral damage under the hood,” Mai said. “We are having reports come in from dealerships where folks are bringing in their cars to have their gas tanks flushed just to be on the safe side, but no real damage outside of just replacing the gas in the tank.”

Oklahoma City Community College transportation technology department chair Brad Walker says high levels of ethanol can corrode rubber and plastic, The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth and Paul Monies report:

“You would probably notice it pretty immediately if there were a problem,” Walker said. “The engine would start running rough or it possibly would not start. But since it's only one batch, it probably wouldn't do any catastrophic damage.”

For consumers who have been driving all week without problems, Walker said the risk of significant damage likely is minimal.

“I would say you're probably in the clear,” he said. “If you want to make sure and give yourself some assurance, it might not be a bad idea to go to a station with 100 percent gasoline and top your tank off. That will dilute it down even more.”

Francis Tuttle Technology Center automotive instructor Charles Lawson said symptoms of ethanol damage likely would include engine pinging, a rough idle, or low power.

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