How To Test E85 At The Pump

Are you one of the many drivers who have switched to using E85 fuel for its lower cost and environmental benefits? It’s important to ensure that the fuel you’re pumping is actually E85 and not a lower ethanol blend.

While gas stations are required to label their fuel pumps, mistakes can happen, and it’s up to you to verify the fuel you’re purchasing. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of how to test E85 at the pump, so you can have peace of mind knowing you’re getting what you pay for.

To test E85 at the pump, you’ll need a few tools and some basic knowledge about the fuel. Don’t worry, it’s not difficult, and we’ll guide you through the process step by step.

Once you’ve gathered the necessary tools and located the fuel sample, you’ll perform a simple test that will help you understand the ethanol content of the fuel. By taking action based on the results, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re using E85 and not a lower ethanol blend, which could potentially harm your engine.

So let’s dive in and learn how to test E85 at the pump.

Gather the Necessary Tools

To ensure accurate testing, you’ll need to gather the necessary tools. These include a graduated cylinder, a hydrometer, and a thermometer. It’s important to note that these tools must be calibrated accurately before use. You can do this by referring to the manufacturer’s instructions or by consulting a professional.

Calibrating equipment ensures that your readings are precise and that your test results are accurate. When handling these tools, it’s also important to take safety precautions. Wear protective gloves and goggles to protect your eyes and skin from any potential exposure to E85. Be mindful of the flammability of the fuel and keep any sources of sparks or flames far away from your testing area.

By following these safety guidelines and using calibrated equipment, you can accurately test E85 at the pump and have the peace of mind that you’re making the right choice for your vehicle.

Locate the Fuel Sample

To properly test your fuel for e85 content, you must first locate the fuel sample. This involves choosing the right pump and collecting the sample in a precise manner.

Selecting the correct pump is essential in order to ensure the sample is representative of the fuel in your vehicle. Once you have the right pump, it’s important to collect the sample carefully to avoid contamination or spillage.

Choosing the Right Pump

Picking the perfect pump is crucial when testing E85 at the gas station. You need to choose a pump that dispenses E85 fuel and is compatible with your vehicle.

Not all gas stations offer E85, so you need to check the availability beforehand. E85 is less common than regular gasoline, so you may need to travel to find a gas station that sells it.

Once you’ve found a gas station that sells E85, look for a pump that is specifically labeled as such. Some gas stations have multiple pumps, and not all of them dispense E85. Make sure to read the labels on the pumps carefully to avoid mistakenly filling up with regular gasoline.

Additionally, make sure your vehicle is compatible with E85 fuel before choosing a pump. Some types of vehicles, such as older models, may not be able to handle E85 fuel.

Collecting the Sample

When you approach the E85 pump, look for the nozzle with a bright green handle and a yellow dispenser. Make sure you have a clean and dry sample container made of materials that won’t react with the fuel, such as glass or plastic. Avoid using metal containers as they can contaminate the sample.

Before collecting the sample, take proper safety precautions and wear appropriate equipment. Wear gloves and eye protection to avoid contact with the fuel.

To collect the sample, place the container under the nozzle and press the button to dispense the fuel. Fill the container about three-quarters full to leave some space for expansion.

After collecting the sample, properly store and dispose of the container and any remaining fuel. Never pour the sample back into the pump or onto the ground. Proper storage and disposal of the fuel sample is necessary to avoid contamination and ensure accurate testing results.

Perform the Test

First, insert the test tube into the E85 dispenser and press the button to dispense a sample. Make sure to collect the sample directly from the pump nozzle to ensure accuracy.

Once you’ve collected the sample, you can proceed with the testing process. Use a refractometer to measure the sample’s ethanol content. Make sure the refractometer is properly calibrated before use.

Simply place a few drops of the sample onto the refractometer and read the results. The ethanol content should be between 51% and 83%. If the results fall outside of this range, it may indicate that the E85 is not properly blended or contaminated.

By performing this simple test, you can ensure that you’re getting the correct ethanol content in your E85 fuel.

Understand the Results

Now that you’ve collected and measured your E85 sample with a refractometer, it’s time to interpret the results. The ethanol content of E85 should fall within the 51% to 83% range. If your sample falls outside of this range, it may be contaminated with gasoline or water.

If your sample falls within this range, the next step is to identify any contaminants that may be present. Contaminants can cause damage to your engine and reduce fuel efficiency. To identify contaminants, you’ll need to use a test kit or take your sample to a lab for analysis.

It’s important to identify any contaminants as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your engine.

Take Action

To ensure optimal engine performance and fuel efficiency, it’s important to promptly identify and address any contaminants in your E85 sample. If you find that your E85 sample contains an unacceptable level of water or other impurities, you should take action by advocating for sustainability and finding alternative fuels.

This may include contacting the fuel station and reporting the issue, or looking for another pump that has been recently tested and found to be clean. Taking action in this way not only helps ensure that your vehicle is running at its best, but it also supports the broader movement towards sustainability and cleaner energy sources.

As more and more people demand cleaner alternatives to traditional fossil fuels, the market for sustainable fuels will only continue to grow. By advocating for sustainability and taking action to find cleaner fuels, you are contributing to this important shift towards a more environmentally conscious future.


Congratulations! You now know how to test E85 at the pump. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that you’re getting the fuel you’re paying for and that your vehicle is running at its best.

Remember to gather all the necessary tools before starting the test and to locate the fuel sample carefully.

When performing the test, make sure to follow the instructions precisely and to understand the results. This will allow you to take appropriate action based on the outcome.

Whether you need to report the issue to the gas station or adjust your vehicle’s settings, you’ll be equipped to make the necessary decisions.

Testing E85 at the pump may seem daunting at first, but with practice, you’ll become proficient in this valuable skill.

By doing so, you can save money, protect your car, and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Happy testing!