What Happens If You Put E85 In A Regular Car

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you put E85 fuel in your regular car? While it may seem like a good way to save money or reduce emissions, putting E85 in a car that is not designed for it can cause serious damage. Understanding the risks and how to determine if your car is compatible with E85 is crucial in avoiding costly repairs and potential safety hazards.

E85 fuel is a blend of ethanol and gasoline that contains up to 85 percent ethanol. It is often marketed as a more environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline, as ethanol is a renewable resource that produces fewer emissions when burned. However, not all cars are designed to run on E85, and putting it in a regular car can cause a range of problems, from reduced fuel efficiency and power to engine damage and even fires.

In this article, we will explore the risks of putting E85 in a regular car, how to determine if your car is compatible with E85, and what alternatives you can consider to reduce your environmental impact without putting your car at risk.

Understanding E85 Fuel

If you’re not familiar with E85 fuel, it’s important to know that it’s a blend of renewable fuel, ethanol, and gasoline. The ’85’ in E85 refers to the percentage of ethanol in the blend, with the remaining 15% being gasoline. The use of ethanol in fuel is increasing due to its renewable nature and the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ethanol production involves fermenting and distilling crops such as corn, sugarcane, and switchgrass. It’s important to note that not all cars can run on E85 fuel due to the high percentage of ethanol in the blend. If your car is not designed to run on E85 fuel, it can cause damage to your engine and fuel system.

It’s important to check your car’s owner’s manual or consult a mechanic before using E85 fuel.

The Risks of Putting E85 in a Regular Car

Using E85 fuel in your non-flex fuel vehicle can lead to serious engine damage and performance issues, because E85 fuel contains a higher percentage of ethanol than regular gasoline. This can cause corrosion and damage to the fuel system components, such as the fuel pump, fuel lines, and injectors. Additionally, ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline, which means that more fuel is required to maintain the same level of performance, resulting in decreased fuel efficiency.

Moreover, using E85 fuel in a regular car can also cause engine performance issues, such as rough idling, stalling, and reduced power. The engine control module (ECM) is not programmed to handle the different fuel characteristics of E85, such as its different stoichiometric air-fuel ratio and oxygen sensor readings. As a result, the ECM may not be able to accurately adjust the fuel injection and ignition timing, leading to poor combustion and engine misfire. Therefore, it’s important to only use E85 fuel in vehicles that are specifically designed to run on it, such as flex-fuel vehicles.

How to Determine if Your Car is Compatible with E85

To find out if your car can run on E85, check the fuel cap or owner’s manual for a yellow gas cap or a label indicating it’s compatible with flex fuel. If your car is labeled as a flex fuel vehicle, it means it’s designed to run on E85 or regular gasoline.

On the other hand, if there’s no label or yellow gas cap, it’s not recommended to use E85. Using E85 in a regular car can have negative effects on fuel efficiency and engine performance. This is because E85 contains a higher amount of ethanol, which has less energy content than gasoline.

As a result, your car may experience a decrease in fuel efficiency, especially if you frequently run on E85. Additionally, your engine may not perform as well with E85, leading to decreased power and acceleration. Therefore, it’s important to check if your car is compatible with E85 before using it to avoid any potential damage or decrease in performance.

Alternatives to E85

Consider other fuel options if E85 is not compatible with your vehicle. You can choose from gasoline, hybrid electric fuel, and biofuel options. Gasoline is the most common fuel, readily available at most gas stations, and a reliable fuel that has been used for decades in cars. It is a good choice if you want to maximize fuel efficiency and performance in your vehicle.

Hybrid electric fuel is becoming increasingly popular. This type of fuel combines gasoline or diesel with electricity to power the vehicle. Hybrid electric vehicles offer better fuel efficiency and lower emissions compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Biofuel options, such as ethanol blends, are also available. These fuels are made from renewable resources and are a good alternative to traditional gasoline. They can be blended with gasoline to create a fuel that has lower emissions and is more environmentally friendly.


Now you know the potential consequences of putting E85 fuel in a regular car. It can damage the engine, fuel system, and emissions control components.

However, if your car is designed to run on flex fuel, then you can safely use E85. To determine if your car is compatible with E85, check the owner’s manual, consult with a mechanic, or use an online database.

If your car is not compatible with E85, there are alternative fuels you can use. These include regular gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, ethanol-free gasoline, and electric vehicles. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to do your research and choose the fuel that’s best for your car and driving needs.

By understanding the risks and alternatives to E85, you can make informed decisions about fueling your car.