Can all cars use gas containing ethanol?

| 05/07/2018

I’ve passed by Refuel, the new gas station in Industrial Park, several times and noticed the lower prices they offer on their gas. But is the fuel OK to use in all types of cars? I’ve checked their website and cannot find any information about that.

Cayman National Bank

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Auntie’s answer: I have also been intrigued by the cheaper prices they offer and have wondered about using that gas in my car. I contacted the fuel experts at the Utility Regulation and Competition Office, known as OfReg, and the helpful folks at the Fuels Inspectorate offered lots of useful information in answer to your question.

But first I want to say that your comment about the Refuel website has already made a difference. An OfReg fuels official explained, “Given that our enhanced regime has only come into force just over a year ago, as part of enforcing compliance, we also continue to remind importers to ensure they are meeting their various obligations under the law.” And he added that your question was “useful for us in following up with the permit holder/licensee in this regard”. The regulator is requiring that Refuel update information on the grades of gas it offers as well as include other relevant information on their website.

Now, on the issue of whether the gas sold at Refuel is suitable for every car, the fuels official explained that the majority of cars using gasoline manufactured after 1986 can use fuel containing 10% ethanol, or E10, which Refuel sells. “However, the only true way to know if a vehicle can take E10 is to verify with the vehicle’s owner manual,” he added, explaining that almost all the gasoline sold in the US contains at least 10% ethanol by volume as required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Pure (100%) ethanol contains about one-third less energy than gasoline, so vehicles will typically go 3% to 4% fewer miles per gallon on an E10 blend,” he said. “Compared with conventional gasoline, ethanol-blended fuels contain more oxygen and are thus more likely to achieve complete combustion that lowers certain harmful emissions.”

More information on fuels in Cayman is also on the way: “In due course, OfReg will also have pertinent information on the various types of fuels available in Cayman to supplement information by the various importers under the Fuels Standards Regime.”

And even though you didn’t ask, since Refuel offers options (87, 90 and 93 octane) not available at other gas stations (89 and 93 octane), I wanted to clarify how they compare.

Those octane numbers are actually AKI (anti-knock index) but all gas stations use that representation so they can be compared. The best fuel for your car depends on what the manufacturer recommends. But an official advised that if 87 AKI is recommended for your car and you have been using 89 AKI, the 87 AKI from Refuel would be fine, if the vehicle’s manufacturer says it can handle ethanol. If 89 AKI is recommended then Refuel’s 90 AKI would be the “wiser choice” between 90 and 87.

And, finally, here is how the various fuel choices stack up: 87-89 is regular grade, 90-92 is mid-grade, and 93 and above is premium.

For more information on gas options, you can take a look at this previous column on octane ratings.

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Category: Ask Auntie, Misc Questions

Comments (41)

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  1. PumpItUp says:

    I only go to Refuel now, better quality and less expensive. I’ve owned various cars on island and one in particular was ruined by Esso gas a few years ago (two different mechanics confirmed this). I don’t see why this is so confusing to some people, Refuel is better gas and whether it’s 5 cents or 50 cents less per gallon it’s still LESS than ALL other gas on island.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why buy gas and get ripped off? Go electric!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you’re buying electricity from the grid then you are no different than a diesel vehicle. CUC needs to go renewable!

    • Anonymous says:

      Why buy electricity from CUC and get ripped? That’s the question?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I tried their gas and it was cheaper but I definitely got fewer miles per tank than normal. Was not worth it for me.

    • Anonymous says:

      How many of us would fly In a passenger plane with ethanol? NONE!! Then why put it in your vehicles or boats

  4. Chadd Bush says:

    So it’s cheaper but burns faster. Not worth it in my opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ethanol gas requires engines to work harder. You get at least 25% less mileage and more wear and tear on your engine.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I used this gas in my truck and within minutes it stared smoking. I had to go get the gas drained from my truck so unfortunately they have lost me as a customer.

    • Anonymous says:

      Whaaat! How old is your truck?!? given this fuel is the most common fuel on the planet, me thinks it was your truck that had the problem

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been pleased with the pricing at Refuel and have been filling up with Diesel since they opened – I’m happy and I’m sure I will remain a customer for life!

  7. ThIs WrItInG Is VeRy IrRiTaTiNg says:

    I bought several tanks of the premium grade for my truck and the difference in price was offset buy the fewer miles per gallon so it didn’t save me any money it just meant I had to fill up more often. I went back to the premium gas at Esso.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If every single vehicle in the US uses this fuel, I think I’ll be fine.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We’ve been using Refuel since they opened and it’s been great. Saved a lot of money too! We’ve also let our car sit while off island and it’s been totally fine. Thanks, Refuel!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why is their Diesel red in the UK that means no duty paid.
    I notice.

    B20 BioDiesel might be an issue JCB recommend against its use before 2016, after 2016 most engines will support it.

    Also please note E10 came into effect in 2011 in the UK not the same as the USA.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My car runs great on Refuel. Have been using it since they opened. Vehicle sits for months at a time on occasion and have never had a problem as was mentioned in an earlier comment. It is about time someone brought these fuels to Cayman. Good on you Refuel!!! 🙂 (And you’re helping the environment)

  12. Dow Travers, Refuel-CEO says:

    Hello Auntie,
    As always your column is very informative. If anyone should have questions about our fuels, they can certainly contact us with the email listed on our website,, or by Facebook or Instagram direct message.
    Refuel’s position is that of the U.S Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency, in that E10 is “substantially similar” to gasoline and is legal and approved for use in any gasoline powered vehicle,( ).
    Manufacturers have been making E10 compatible vehicles for over 30 years, and because it is “substantially similar” to Gasoline it is legal for use in all 250,000,000 vehicles in the North American Market and why all vehicles intended for North America are compatible. More than 98% of all gasoline sold in the USA contains up to 10% ethanol (E10). Similar compatibilities are observed globally with 92% of all vehicles on the road in the UK being compatible, with that number expected to rise to 97% by 2020, and, it is near impossible to find a newer vehicle that is not compatible, 99.7% of all vehicles made after 2010 can use E10 and benefit from the corresponding reduction in emissions. As OfReg mentions, for confirmation, owners can consult their Vehicle’s Owner’s manual and look under “Fuel Requirements” for reference to “Gasoline Oxygenate blends”, “E10” or “10% Ethanol”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Mr. Travers,

      These are all facts but you’ve intentioalily not shared one fact that we’re slowly discovering which is also the reason why your prices are low; however, given the issue, instead of keeping your prices just under your 100% gasoline competitors, why not give us the real benefit by offering a significant price reduction in your current prices to match up with how quickly ethanol based fuel burns when compared to regular gasoline, which in my Honda car, regular gasoline from Esso Rubis, etc. gives me about 90 more miles to a tank of gas.

      The above is significant so, am I really saving if I’m making more trips to your pumps? Many are fooled by a tank of gas costing $45 dollars at your place when a tank of gas cost $50 at Jose but if I return to fill up three days earlier at Refuel, am I really saving?

      I’m totally sold on the concept (E10) but for heaven’s sake, drop your prices to reflect the true product comparison, don’t just skirt the cartel’s prices as with knowledge, it makes you one of the cartel’s too.

      The a above does not matter in the US as most gas station sell ethanol based fuels so prices are competitively low but here it matters as OfReg chose not to educate despite there being a consumption difference between our options.

      One of my many sources:

      P.S.: my numbers may be off a bit but you’ll get the gist.


  13. E10 has been used for years in many states in the USA. it can be harmful to many small gasoline engines by leaving deposits in the fuel system. Also automobiles that sit for months not used will experience similar issues. I will not use it as I have endured multiple issues over many years dealing with E10. Research it on the Internet. In my opinion it should not be sold in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      David is right and I hope we are not forced to use it in Cayman. It causes problems with water separation Particularly in boats with large gas tanks that are not used daily.

      • Anonymous says:

        Boats with large gas tanks have separators to trap any water. The only problem is with seals and gaskets in really old outboards.

        • Anonymous says:

          10:42 This isn’t simply about water in the fuel tank, it’s also the water (humidity) in the air, which can be absorbed by the ethanol until it reaches the point where the ethanol and gas separate. It’s easy to spot and deal with – check out the videos on YouTube. Personally I prefer diesels for inboard power units on boats, they’re way more reliable and safer.

    • Fuelinggood says:

      No matter what engine, they all require routine maintenance. Small engines can work fine on E10, and have for decades, but if the fuel in them is not going to be used in 30-60 days, the manufacturers say to drain it or stabilize it. This is true with or without ethanol. Follow the guidance in your owner’s manuals, you will have no issues. Definitely no issues in a vehicle.

    • Anonymous says:

      Think of all the crappy gas issues that have happened in Cayman over the years.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Very informative ,Auntie!