Is E85 Right for Your Flex Fuel Vehicle?
August 24, 2023
If you're wondering whether to use E85 in your flex fuel vehicle, let's clear the air. The common misconception that alternative fuels could impair a vehicle's performance does not apply to flex-fuel vehicles using E85. Not only will there be no performance loss, but many vehicles even experience a boost in horsepower and torque. Although you might notice a decrease in miles per gallon (MPG), the lower cost per gallon of E85 usually offsets this.
E85 is a blend of high-ratio ethanol and gasoline, typically comprising between 51% and 83% ethanol. The exact proportion can vary based on geography and season. This blend means your vehicle's MPG might be lower due to ethanol's higher vaporization rate, which results in quicker burning. An example of a car that runs efficiently on such blends is any flex-fuel vehicle from Ford, which is compatible with varying ethanol-gasoline blends.
However, using E85 in vehicles manufactured before 1994 may pose risks. These older vehicles' fuel system components were not designed to withstand ethanol. Rest assured, in modern cars specifically designed for E85 use, such as those labeled "flex fuel" or "E85," "Minimum 91 octane" on the fuel cap filler door, it's safe to use E85 daily.
You should avoid using E85 in non-flex fuel vehicles as it can cause damage over time. Ethanol, similar to gasoline, should not be left in the fuel tank indefinitely as it can attract water vapor and potentially cause corrosion. However, this concern is virtually non-existent in vehicles made after 1994, thanks to federal mandates for ethanol compatibility.
On the bright side, E85 has the added benefit of cleaning your vehicle's exhaust system, fuel lines, and engine. This cleaning effect can help your engine run cooler and reduce maintenance costs.
In conclusion, if your vehicle is a flex-fuel model, you should definitely consider using E85 as your fuel.
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