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E85 Fuel: The Ultimate Guide for Car Owners

E85 is an alternative fuel blend that is growing in popularity, especially among performance enthusiasts and those looking to save money on fuel. But what exactly is E85, and is it the right choice for your vehicle? This guide covers everything you need to know about this ethanol blend fuel.

What is E85 Fuel?

Key Takeaways
E85 is an ethanol alternative fuel blend suitable for flexible-fuel vehicles
Typically cheaper than regular gasoline
Reduces dependence on fossil fuels and emissions
FFVs see reduced fuel economy compared to gasoline
Requires careful use only in compatible flexible-fuel vehicles

E85 is a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. The ethanol used is a renewable fuel made from corn and other plant materials. The remaining 15% is regular unleaded gasoline.

Key Facts About E85

  • E85 is a renewable, mostly ethanol fuel blend
  • Typically contains a mix of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline
  • Considered an alternative fuel and flex-fuel
  • Compatible with flexible-fuel vehicles (FFVs) only

Pros of Using E85 Fuel

There are some excellent benefits to using E85 over regular gasoline:

  • Lower fuel cost – E85 is cheaper per gallon compared to 87 octane gasoline. This adds up to major savings over time.
  • Higher octane rating – The high ethanol content raises the octane rating to between 100-105. This allows boosting timing and compression for more power.
  • Reduced oil contamination – Ethanol serves as a cleaning agent in the fuel system and engine. This leads to less sludge buildup.
  • Lower emissions – As a renewable fuel made from plants, E85 burns cleaner compared to pure gasoline. FFVs see a significant reduction in hydrocarbon emissions when running this ethanol blend.

Cons of Using E85 Fuel

However, there are also some downsides to consider with E85:

  • Reduced fuel economy – FFVs average 15-30% fewer miles per gallon using E85 compared to gasoline. The impact depends on engine calibration and driving style.
  • More frequent fuel stops – The decrease in MPG means filling up more often. Plan accordingly for longer trips.
  • Works only in flex-fuel vehicles – E85 can damage hoses/gaskets in engines not designed for it. Ensure your vehicle is an FFV model before using.
  • May be hard to find – Only around 2000 gas stations in 30 states sell E85 fuel currently. Use a locator before planning travel routes.

Using E85 Safely and Effectively

Follow this advice to have the best experience running E85 in your flex-fuel vehicle:

  • Confirm FFV compatibility – Check your owner’s manual or the fuel door sticker to verify E85 use is approved.
  • Adjust timing for power gains – ECU tuning to advance ignition timing is key for maximizing the benefits of higher ethanol octane.
  • Clean intake valves – Periodically use a quality fuel system cleaner to prevent carbon buildup causing issues.
  • Monitor O2 sensors – Replace oxygen sensors promptly when needed to ensure proper fuel trim and performance.

So is E85 worth considering for your vehicle? Evaluate the pros and cons as they relate to your needs. For those focused strictly on performance or large fuel cost savings, it can be an excellent option. But it requires some additional considerations regarding reduced fuel economy and availability.

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