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Your E85 Flex Fuel Experience

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
edited March 2014 in General
Post your observations about your realworld E85 flex fuel use here.


  • johnc15johnc15 Member Posts: 1
    Can isopropyl alcohol be used in an e85 vehicle?
  • stevedebistevedebi Member Posts: 4,098
    "Can isopropyl alcohol be used in an e85 vehicle?"

    From what I can tell it will work, but would be very expensive. Since there is little direct discussion of this on the Internet (and bio fuels are a hot topic), I suspect that it is not a viable fuel.

    Isoprophyl is used as a fuel antifreeze, and can be used to get small amounts of water out of the fuel tank.

    Ethanol is much cheaper...
  • tedebeartedebear Member Posts: 832
    This thread looks like it could use a little activity so here goes.

    I bought a new car last month. One of my 3 choices for engines was a 2.7L V6 that was E85 compatible. I didn't know very much about it but I did some online research.

    I found out that if I used E85 instead of regular 87 octane gas the mpg rating dropped by nearly 30%. Since I average around 14,000 miles per year I calculated that it would cost me approximately $300/yr more for E85 fuel, even at the lower cost per gallon.

    I know some people say we have to look beyond that and E85 reduces our dependence on foreign oil, even if it costs us a little more to use. However, at what price point does this extra cost become more of a factor than whatever foreign oil we're not using?
  • rjohn716rjohn716 Member Posts: 1
    So how about all the moonshiners and bootleggers start selling jugs of shine for you to drink and drive.
  • yerth10yerth10 Member Posts: 431
    Hold on guys, currently with low volume production, E85 is transported by trucks and hence its slightly more
    according to the above site, the E85 (gallon of gas equivalent) is 2.98 while gas is 2.83

    but when the prod volume goes up and its transported by trains, its cost will go down.

    Dont forget that gas prices are further set to rise with $90 oil. It makes sense to buy Flex Fuel vehicle and when gas prices are higher, we can buy E85 and help the country.
  • tedebeartedebear Member Posts: 832
    currently with low volume production, E85 is transported by trucks and hence its slightly more

    Well, that brings us back to my original question. At what point does the higher cost to drive an E85 vehicle become more of a factor than whatever foreign oil we're not using?
  • fezofezo Member Posts: 10,384
    I don't know the point but you have to factor in the fact that ethanol is currently subsidized by the federal government so that "lower than gasoline" price is only due to market manipulation. That can't go on forever.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • scortchscortch Member Posts: 41
    E85 is just a scam. The only way it would be viable is for it to cost $1 less per gallon than regular gas, due to the poor MPG vs regular fuel.

    Right now, in my area, E85 is only 12 cents per gallon cheaper, yet I get 4MPG less. It would have to be at least 54 cents per gallon cheaper, just to break even.

    That puts me at paying 3.386 equivalent per gallon compared to 2.899 87 octane.

    It's harder on the system and the cars and no real benefit to the consumers.

    This in a '08 Impala 3.5L, winter in SC.

    If they can come up with an alternative fuel that's $1 or more less, then people will buy it and use it.

    For me, I'm sticking with regular fuel. They can have their E85 junk.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Can you imagine how expensive E85 would be without the 50 cent subsidy on ethanol and all the corn subsidies? At least a dollar more per gallon if ethanol has to stand on its own. It is indeed a SCAM!!!
  • aspesisteveaspesisteve Member Posts: 833
    to further the "scam" theory, california purchased over a thousand flex fuel vehicles from GM. Seems GM was the only manufacturer able to meet the requirements that were of course designed by lobyist representing GM.

    to make matters worse;
    The cars have yet to see a drop of ethanol since there are no stations in place to provide the fuel. :surprise: uel-vehicles-two-years/
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    The real corker is I have a 1999 Ranger Flex Fuel that was sold new in CA. So this scam is going on at least 10 years. It was probably a fleet vehicle when new. There are a few government E85 sources around the state. So we get hit double on the taxation. We subsidize the processing and we subsidize the poor mileage on the road.
  • scortchscortch Member Posts: 41
    Yep, everyone helps pay for the E85 fuel that people do use. It would be 51 cents higher if it wasn;t for the subsidy and no one would use it because it would be higher than 87 octane. The thing is, most people don't do the numbers and don't realize they are paying much more for E85.

    I have ran a few tanks of E85 and 87 octane and I have consistently gotten 5MPG less on E85. That means it would have to be 60 cents less per gallon to break even.

    Around here, there is only a 12 cetns difference in price. That puts me paying $57 to get the same mileage as 87 octane at $45.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    There is the 51 cents right on top of every gallon. Plus over $4 billion in farm subsidies to corn growers. Not sure how they figure or receive that money. Yes we are all paying dearly for this big government scam. And the OPEC boys are laughing at US all the way to the banks they own in NYC.
  • sirlenasirlena Member Posts: 30
    It's not harder on the system. It actually runs cooler and is better for your engine. Plus you get 5-10% increase in performance. Also, gasoline is full of additives that clog injectors, like waxes and olefins. E85 will clean your fuel sysetm, not clog it up. It is true, however, you can lose 5-20% in MPG, but that varies on driving style and type of vehicle. The high compression engines found in smaller cars perform very well on E85 and you would be closer to the 5% loss range. Trucks lose more MPG. The Big 3 has not really tuned engines to run efficiently on E85. You'd probably be better off using an aftermarket kit.

    Plus, the price of E85 varies by state. The national average is 18% cheaper E85 Prices. Some states DO sell it for $1 gal cheaper. Unfortunately, in MI where I live, it's only about 10-15% cheaper, but I still use it in my 2008 FFV F150 and my FFV converted 1998 Taurus.

    There are a lot of myths about ethanol. Bottom line, who you gonna trust, OPEC or fuel that is Made in USA.

    Flex Fuel My Ride
  • scortchscortch Member Posts: 41
    A 5-10% performance boost translates into nothing. If you are drag racing, then yea but, when you are driving in city traffic at 45-55 or even highway at 70 or so, you don't need more performance than what 87 octane offers you. It's a ridiculous argument about more performance to try and justify the scam.

    It's definitely not better for your engine. Do you actually really know what ethanol does to engines? Why do you think they have to have special built systems to handle ethanol?

    Average loss is 23% and that is what I am getting. It's not worth the scam, especially when you add in all the other factors in producing it, refining it, transporting it and using it.

    No, there are people out there claiming there are myths about ethanol and there are a LOT of facts about ethanol and how bad it is for the environment and other things, like taking away from our food supply.

    You know we could do more to cut our dependency on foreign oil if we kept the oil gotten out of U.S. soil, here in the U.S. right? Most of our oil is sold to the highest bidder overseas which makes us have to get it from the middle east.

    Corn based ethanol.....
    -Fossil fuels used to plant the corn
    -more fertilizer being used to produce more corn which leads to more contamination of water supply and oceans
    -more fossil fuel used to harvest the corn
    -more fossil fuel used to transport the corn to the refineries
    -more fossil fuel used to transport to further refining (to be mixed with the gasoline)
    -more fossil fuel used to transport to the stations
    -no pipelines can be used in any of the transportation, like they can with regular gasoline, because it's too corrosive
    -It takes AWAY FROM THE FOOD SUPPLY, which is raising the prices of corn based food to extreme levels.
    -very harsh on fuel systems and engines, thus the needed changes to be able to use it without destroying every thing.
    -Subsidized by ALL taxpayers so the price can remain competitive and incentive to produce it.
    -Gets MUCH less MPG so you end up spending even more money for your fuel which is already a burden on a lot of families.

    It's more susceptible to attracting moisture and it's more damaging.

    Corn based ethanol and the current E85 is just a scam that's costing taxpayers and drivers more money and hurting our environment and food supply even more.

    When you look at the whole picture, it's not pretty at all.
  • sirlenasirlena Member Posts: 30
    I have to disagree. We converted a 1998 Taurus in my Engine Performance class. It has 147,000 miles on it. The owner of the vehicle loves the additional performance. She feels it. Was doing 85 MPH on the HWY and didn't realize, because her engine is running so smooth. You know why? Because E85 cleaned out all the junk additives that is in convetional gasoline.

    I converted a 2006 Hummer H2 and with a 50/50 blend, he gained 1.5 mpg. At least that is what his on demand, instrument cluster told him, during a 3 hour drive back to IN.

    Plus, conversion kits run better than OEM, in my opinion. The 5+% increase is OEM spec, not aftermarket.

    And MUCH less MPG is an overstament. It varies 5-20% with the larger SUVs and trucks on the high end. For a small car, it's closer to the lower end. If the national average for ethanol price is 15% cheaper, it's a wash and possible GAIN for small vehicles. The price is just going to go down in the long run. Some states, consumers buy it for $1/cheaper!

    Also, that is untrue about not being able to use pipelines. Studies are being done right now.

    And check your owner guide. Most auto manufactures correctly point out that Methanol corrodes metal and damages plastic and metal, not Ethanol. All fuel, whether it's convention, reformulated, oxygenated should meet the same standards for volitility, octane, stability, corrosivity, etc, set by the ASTM.

    ...and lastly, you think big oil doesn't get subsidized? hello! that was a huge sticking point in the 2007 energy bill.
  • scortchscortch Member Posts: 41
    You are wrong on pretty much everything. Ethanol does corrode metal, why else do you think they have to modify vehicles to run it? DUH! 27% reduction in gas mileage is MUCH less.

    You been scammed by too much BS from GM and the ethanol people. Do your research before you believe everything you hear and read from people tied in with making money from it. You need to do a LOT of research.

    10 cents cheaper is is a FAR cry from 15% cheaper. 4%^ cheaper in my area with a 23% reduction in fuel economy = CRAP that will not go in my tank.

    Don't be brainwashed into believing it's all that. It's a scam and people that do their research can see it. Look at EVERYTHING involved, not just your situation. All the other environmental damage, etc. has to be figured in along with all the fossil fuel required to make it and transport it.

    Studies don't mean jack bud. Studies are not real world actuality in what is happening.
  • sirlenasirlena Member Posts: 30
    ...regarding the pipeline. Here is the latest article/information
    Magellan Midstream Partners and Buckeye Partners Assessing $3B Dedicated Ethanol Pipeline System
    20 February 2008

    As far as OEM modifications, the 2008 OEM FFV F150 I drive, has only one component different in the fuel system - the fuel pump brushes. Everything else is the same.

    Sorry your fuel is only 10 cents cheaper. Mine is 30-40 cents cheaper. The national avergae is 15% cheaper, which of course means some States are higher and some are lower. That's just a fact of supply and demand. More pumps will mean lower prices.

    And as far as fuel mileage degredation, that varies too, based on size of vehicle and everything else that varies fuel mileage - vehicle technology, state of tune, ambient temperatures, head winds, road grade, tire pressure, use of air conditioners, and numerous other factors have an impact on fuel economy. How do you know you are comparing apples to apples? That's why the average degradation is such a huge spread -- 5% to 20%. Not every vehicle loses a huge amount of gas mileage when converted either. Most small vehicles with high compression engines show little to no difference in MPG. Certainly not enough for people to NOT use E85, because of the trade off they get in increased power. Otherwise, people wouldn't covert. Hunderd's of thousands of people have converted thier vehicles to burn E85 with no problems.

    And as far as pollution, the gasoline industry makes the most cancer causing chemicals of any industry in the world. Technology for ethanol production is cleaner than in the past and those issues will be worked out. How much land & water pollution has Exxon Mobil created? Let's talk about that!

    And the subsidies! Holy crap. $130 billion in the past 30 years for oil as compared to $11 billion for renewable fuels. PULEEZE!
  • dawg6dawg6 Member Posts: 2
    you should do your research a little better. It does not burn cleaner than unleaded-uses much more energy to refine - dries out the top end of your engine(don't mistake that for a clean engine)-decreases the piston to ring seal in the cylinders-causes your oil to get dirtier quicker ( Thus leading to increased engine wear and more emissions) - is inconsistent in it's blending--basically -- it's not really a decent alternative fuel if you check the facts. :sick: and flex fuel vehicles ARE more expensive to buy--so I don't see E 85 as a usfull answer!!!
  • sirlenasirlena Member Posts: 30
    ...Tell that to the over 100,000 vehicles worldwide that have kits on them, today. The technology to convert has been around for 20 years...
  • scortchscortch Member Posts: 41
    Well, that's because so many people will believe anything they are told by the government and big business. A scam is a scam, no matter who has it going. Some people are just too gullable.
  • sirlenasirlena Member Posts: 30
    How is actually driving a vehicle that is converted and experiencing an increase in performance and a negligible loss of mpg, related to believing the government and big buisness?? The government and big business don't sell the kits.

    Big business (Big 3) would rather you buy a new vehicle than convert your old one. And the government doesn't have a clue about the technology of today. Much of the crap they rely on was created back in the 70's when this technology didn't exist and gasohol was [non-permissible content removed] (and most likely included methanol - a HIGHLY corrosive alcohol).
  • newdavidqnewdavidq Member Posts: 146
    I realize this thread is asking for anecdotal evidence about Flex Fuel, but sooner or later its a good idea to toss in a few facts:

    BTUs contained in one US gallon of the following liquid fuel:

    Gasoline 115,000
    Ethanol 76,000

    Propane 91,600
    Petro Diesel 130,500
    Fuel Oil #2 139,000
    Fuel Oil #6 150,000

    Obviously there are a lot of variables involved: state of tune of your engine, driving style etc., but all else being equal the laws of physics cannot be ignored.

    Incidentally, the differences in the above liquids have a lot to do with the density of the substance..

    Now if Ethanol could compete on price with gasoline without government subsidies that would be great. All we'd have to do is put a 30 gallone tank in our cars to get the 300-450 mile range we get now with gasoline. The fact is that economics and politics conspire to make ethanol a poor choice for auto fuel, and "putting perfume on a pig" won't change that..
  • ramjet2ramjet2 Member Posts: 6
    I did a 3-tank test of E85 in my qualified '02 Suburban and it was not a positive experience. First, the stuff created a bad smell in and around the vehicle, kinda like antifreeze, and I never had that before or since with 87 octane gasoline. Then, there was this loud POP sound from the truck--sounded like from the back around the fuel tank--about once a day; this too never happened before or since E85.
    Also, I carefully ran the numbers as I always do when I fill up...put in into my Excel spreadsheet. In my area, E85 was being sold for 40 cents less than 87 octane regular. With the reduced mileage from 16 mpg to 13 mpg, it works out thatn the E85 fuel costs right at 1 cent more per mile than gasoline.
    I'll never use the stuff again. Besides, it's ridiculous for us to be consuming our foodstocks for fuel. It hurts everybody in the world.

    'er y' go.
  • sirlenasirlena Member Posts: 30
    ...since you brought up the subsidies, let's take a look at that:


    "The Reality of Ethanol Production

    Contrary to the Oil Companies propaganda E85 isn't responsible for the rising costs of food or any other real or imagined issues. E85 is only 1% of total ethanol production and clearly isn't responsible for anything other than being a real alternative fuel for any American that chooses to fuel up with E85. There are around 1,400 Stations in the United States selling E85 using 80 million gallons of ethanol . That's an average of 4,700 gallons per Station per month. The United States would need 140,350 Stations (1 pump) in the United States selling E85 to use the current ethanol production of 8 Billion Gallons!

    E85 Represents just 1% of all Ethanol For Vehicle Production

    So where is all that Ethanol Production going then?.

    As an Additive for Gasoline. We pay the Petroleum Companies (sometimes the ethanol companies get the subsidy..but generally the petro companies do the blending and gets the blending credit of 51 cents per gallon)
    That's right, there is a blending credit of 51 cents for every gallon of ethanol blended with Gasoline.. which works very well when used as designed to build out the real alternative fuel.. E85.
    When we end up paying the Oil Companies nearly 4 Billion a year (at current production levels) to blend just 10% ethanol to their gasoline product then it's time we re-evaluate the subsidies for ethanol blending, what levels of ethanol and who should get the credits.

    E10 (90% Gasoline /10% ethanol = additive ..not an alternative fuel)

    8 Billion Gallons Represents 99% of All Ethanol for Vehicles production.

    Solutions to Increase E85 Production

    If we are serious about getting E85 on the Market then clearly we need to :

    1.Phase out ethanol subsidies for E10 unless that ethanol is produced from cellulosic material
    2. Maintain ethanol subsidies for E85
    3. Move the billions in credits we pay the oil companies to blend E10 to the installation of E85 pumps/tanks as well as installing blender pumps
    4. Blender Pumps- are ideal in that it allows the retailer to offer blends from E10, E20, E30, E60, E85 as well as a unleaded product. It gives the consumer Choice and creating competition for each fuel..thus lowering the costs of all fuels.
    It shifts the blenders credit closer to the retailer..which could then be ethanol company or an oil company.. moving the current blender credits away from oil and to the retail location would be the incentive.. ethanol and oil companies to install the blender pumps .
    To get the credit they have to blend with blender pumps AT the retail level."
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    1.Phase out ethanol subsidies for E10 unless that ethanol is produced from cellulosic material
    2. Maintain ethanol subsidies for E85
    3. Move the billions in credits we pay the oil companies to blend E10 to the installation of E85 pumps/tanks as well as installing blender pumps

    We do have some points of agreement. I think first the E10 mandate needs to be done away with. It costs the refiners more to make E10 even with the subsidy. It has to be hauled all over the country by truck or rail. Using E85 as an alternative for those that feel it is worthwhile is fine. I could even go along with the subsidy. If Congress is truly interested in alternative fuels they need to drop the 54 cent tariff on Brazilian Ethanol. That will allow the market determine if ethanol is worthwhile.

    The way the current US ethanol business is run we are just robbing Peter to pay Paul and the Saudis are laughing all the way to the bank. Ethanol has not reduced our foreign oil consumption by ONE gallon.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
    I've taken about a10% hit in mileage using ethanol blended fuel compared to straight gas. What kind of difference are flex fuel vehicle drivers seeing in E85 compared to what now passes for "regular"?
  • Lady3bgloverLady3bglover Member Posts: 24
    I'm sticking to my 93 Octane for my '02 Silverado... I have a 5.3L V8 with 138k mi on it. Wouldn't trade it for the world. Nor would I consider converting it... ok maybe a 6.0L LS6.

    Convert a what, Taurus? POS, toss it out. Seals are probably beat to hell and back. I wouldn't have even wasted my time or money with the conversion.

    Anyone knows proper care and monitoring will be a good deterant for the wear and tear.
  • scortchscortch Member Posts: 41
    I take a 25% hit in my 08 Impala v6.
  • vonoretnvonoretn Member Posts: 14
    Your facts are distorted, because you are looking only at the ethanol used in E85, not E10 also, which uses a greater volume of ethanol total in the USA. It takes a gallon of gas to make a gallon of ethanol, just in the price of the tractor to plow, and trucks to haul it to the refinery, so there is no way you are going to come out ahead. Apologists for ethanol fuel claim that cost will drop when we move to switch grass, but now they have found bugs and blight that are going to reduce the yield of switch grass. Bottom line, ethanol at any percentage is a loser.

    Your plan to make this work is a good example of why governments can never out plan the free market, and why they shouldn't try. You are just digging a deeper hole. Here is a clue. If you EVER have to use a "subsidy" you have already lost the battle for your government plan to be competitive with the free market.

    For national security reasons only, we should be drilling, using our own oil, while we work hard to develop better transportation energy solutions. Nuclear power and hydrogen would be one approach but the progressives are afraid of nuclear power plants. While we haven't built a new nuclear power plant in almost 40 years, we still have 102 successfully operating plants, while China has scheduled the building of 300 nuclear power plants.

    Nuclear plants could also address our water shortage in California, by conducting massive, energy intensive desalination operations all along the coast. But the greens are in control now, so ironically the "progressives" have pretty much curtailed any real technology progress.
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    Very well said. :)
  • gagricegagrice Member Posts: 31,450
    About one station selling E85 for every million people. Only one station in San Diego for 2.5 million people. It is 30 miles from my home. So my 1999 Ford Ranger FFV is a waste.

    Currently nationwide E85 is 16.9% less than RUG. The mileage difference is 28-30% less MPG with E85. You do the math on each 100 miles driven.
  • scortchscortch Member Posts: 41
    edited April 2010
    In our area, only 1 chain of stations carry E85. I tried it and I will never use E85 again. At the moment, E85 is the same cost as RUG but, I get a 23% reduction in fuel economy. I would be stupid to use E85. E85 would need to be $0.60 per gallon cheaper than RUG, just to break even in MPG versus cost. As was said though, with govt. subsidy, it's just not economical to even bother with E85 as a nation. It's all politics and making it look good to the public versus any real benefit. There are just some things the politicians should keep their nose out of because they don't have the first clue as to what they are talking about or doing.

    They need to keep ALL US oil in the US and reduce foreign dependency that way. Then work on REAL solutions for alternative energy.
  • riley34riley34 Member Posts: 12
    With regular gas 24 mpg with my HHR; with E85 16 mpg. No difference in performance but between the extra cost (E85 was about 6-7% less) per mile and finding a station that carries it using E85 is very problematic. I have expressed this to the ethanol lobbying group but got back a standard boilerplate response.
This discussion has been closed.