What Does E85 Do To Your Engine

Are you considering using E85 fuel for your vehicle but wondering what impact it may have on your engine? E85, which is a blend of ethanol and gasoline, has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its potential environmental benefits and lower cost compared to traditional gasoline. However, it’s important to understand how E85 can affect your engine, as it may not be compatible with all types of vehicles.

In this article, we’ll explore what E85 is and how it’s made, as well as the pros and cons of using this type of fuel in your engine. We’ll also discuss the compatibility of E85 with different engine types and provide tips for maintaining and caring for your engine if you choose to use E85.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how E85 can impact your engine and whether it’s the right choice for you.

Understanding E85: What is it and How is it Made?

You’re probably wondering, “What exactly is E85 and how is it made?”

E85 is a type of fuel that contains 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Ethanol is an alcohol that’s produced by fermenting sugar and starch crops, such as corn, barley, and sugarcane.

E85 is made by blending this ethanol with gasoline in certain proportions to produce a fuel that can be used in Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). There are two main production methods for E85: wet milling and dry milling.

Wet milling involves soaking corn in water and sulfur dioxide to separate its components, while dry milling grinds corn into a powder before adding enzymes to convert the starch into sugar.

Both methods have an impact on the environment, mainly due to the use of large amounts of water and energy during production. However, E85 is still considered a more environmentally friendly option compared to traditional gasoline, as it produces fewer emissions and is made from renewable resources.

Pros and Cons of Using E85

If you’re considering using E85 as your fuel of choice, there are a few key points to keep in mind.

On the plus side, E85 boasts a higher octane rating than traditional gasoline, which can lead to improved engine performance. However, this higher octane rating comes at a cost – E85 has a lower energy content than gasoline, which can lead to reduced fuel economy.

Additionally, E85 has corrosive properties that can lead to potential engine damage over time.

Higher Octane Rating and Improved Performance

By choosing E85 for your engine, you’ll notice an increase in performance thanks to its higher octane rating. This means that the fuel can handle higher levels of compression without detonating prematurely, leading to improved acceleration and overall engine performance.

Additionally, E85 can often be cheaper than traditional gasoline, meaning you can potentially save money while still enjoying these benefits. But improved performance isn’t the only advantage of using E85 in your engine.

Due to the fact that E85 contains a higher percentage of ethanol, it can actually help to improve engine longevity over time. This is because ethanol has a natural cleaning effect on the fuel system, helping to remove any built-up deposits that can lead to engine damage or decreased efficiency.

So not only can E85 help your engine perform better in the short term, but it can also help to extend its lifespan in the long term.

Lower Energy Content and Reduced Fuel Economy

Unfortunately, using E85 may result in a decrease in fuel efficiency and overall mileage. This is because E85 has a lower energy content compared to gasoline.

This means that for every gallon of E85 you use, you will not be able to travel as far as you would with gasoline.

The combustion process for E85 also differs from gasoline. E85 requires more fuel to be burned in order to generate the same amount of energy as gasoline.

This means that your engine will have to work harder and use more fuel to achieve the same level of performance as gasoline. While E85 may provide a higher octane rating and improved performance, it does come at the cost of reduced fuel economy.

Corrosive Properties and Potential Engine Damage

One potential issue with using E85 is its corrosive properties, which can lead to damage in certain parts of the vehicle. Chemical reactions can occur when E85 comes into contact with certain metals, causing them to rust and deteriorate over time. This is especially true for older vehicles that may not have been designed to handle the more corrosive properties of E85.

To prevent potential problems, it’s important to take preventative measures for engine protection. This can include using a fuel system cleaner designed specifically for E85 to help remove any buildup that may be present in the fuel lines. Additionally, using a rust inhibitor can help to prevent the corrosive properties of E85 from causing damage to the engine.

Regular maintenance and inspections can also help to catch any potential issues before they become more serious problems. By taking these steps to protect your engine, you can enjoy the benefits of using E85 without worrying about any potential damage.

Compatibility with Different Engine Types

If you’re considering using E85, it’s important to know its compatibility with different engine types. High-performance engines are generally more tolerant of E85 due to their higher compression ratios, while non-flex fuel vehicles may require modifications to run on E85.

Flex-fuel vehicles, on the other hand, are specifically designed to run on any ethanol blend and can switch between gasoline and E85 seamlessly. Keep these factors in mind when deciding whether or not to use E85 in your vehicle.

High-Performance Engines

High-performance engines thrive on using E85 fuel, which can provide increased power and performance. E85 is a high-octane fuel, which means that it has a higher resistance to knocking. This is important for high-performance engines that have higher compression ratios.

Using E85 can also have turbocharging benefits, as the fuel can provide more oxygen to the combustion process, resulting in increased horsepower. However, it’s important to note that using E85 in a high-performance engine can also lead to increased fuel consumption due to the higher oxygen content.

Another important consideration for using E85 in high-performance engines is the impact on cooling systems. The higher ethanol content in E85 can lead to increased engine temperatures, which can cause engine damage. High-performance engines are designed to handle higher temperatures, but it’s important to ensure that the cooling system is adequate and functioning properly. It may also be necessary to upgrade the cooling system to handle the increased heat generated by using E85 fuel.

Overall, using E85 in high-performance engines can provide increased power and performance, but it’s important to carefully consider and address any potential impacts on the engine.

Flex-Fuel Vehicles

You may be interested to know that flex-fuel vehicles are designed to run on a blend of gasoline and ethanol, allowing for greater fuel flexibility and potentially lower emissions. These vehicles are equipped with fuel system modifications that allow them to handle different levels of ethanol content in the fuel, ranging from E10 (10% ethanol) to E85 (85% ethanol).

The high ethanol content in E85 can provide certain benefits, such as higher octane rating and increased oxygen content, which can improve engine performance. However, it can also have some negative effects on the engine, such as increased wear and tear on engine components due to the corrosive properties of ethanol.

It’s important to keep in mind that using E85 in a non-flex-fuel vehicle can cause serious damage to the engine, as it’s not designed to handle the higher ethanol content.

Non-Flex Fuel Vehicles

When driving a non-flex fuel vehicle, it’s crucial to avoid using E85 or any fuel with a higher ethanol content than recommended by the manufacturer. Using fuel with a higher ethanol blend than recommended can cause damage to your engine and other components of your vehicle.

Your engine may require more fuel to function properly, which can lead to poor fuel efficiency and increased expenses in the long run. In addition to reduced fuel efficiency, using E85 or higher ethanol blends can cause long-term damage to your engine.

Ethanol has a tendency to absorb water, which can cause corrosion and rust in the fuel system. Over time, this can lead to clogs in the fuel injectors, fuel lines, and other components of your engine. This can cause your vehicle to run poorly or even break down entirely, leading to costly repairs.

As a responsible vehicle owner, it’s important to always use the recommended fuel blend to ensure the longevity and efficiency of your vehicle.

Maintenance and Care for Your Engine

To keep your engine running smoothly, it’s important to regularly maintain and care for it. This ensures that it performs at its best and lasts as long as possible. Engine maintenance should be viewed as preventative care for your vehicle.

This means regularly checking fluid levels, changing oil and filters, and inspecting belts and hoses. Regularly scheduled maintenance can prevent larger issues from occurring, which can save you both time and money in the long run.

Neglecting engine maintenance can lead to decreased performance, reduced fuel efficiency, and even engine failure. By taking simple steps to care for your engine, you can ensure that it runs at its best and lasts as long as possible.

So, make sure to schedule regular check-ups with a trusted mechanic to keep your engine running smoothly.


In conclusion, using E85 fuel for your engine can have both advantages and disadvantages. While E85 may offer a cleaner burning fuel option and potentially higher horsepower output, it may also require modifications to your engine and decrease fuel efficiency.

It’s important to consider the compatibility of your engine with E85 and the potential maintenance and care required. To ensure the longevity and proper function of your engine, regular maintenance and care is essential. This includes regular oil changes and inspections, as well as monitoring for any signs of damage or wear.

Additionally, it’s important to follow manufacturer recommendations and guidelines for fuel usage to prevent any potential damage to your engine. By taking these steps, you can safely and effectively use E85 fuel in your engine and enjoy the potential benefits it may offer.