A car is one of the most convenient modes of transportation for the majority of the population. Which is why it is so important that we know what type of fuel would work best with our car.
In the abstract below, you will get to know the relevant information regarding the usability of e85 flex fuel by different cars.
Can my car use e85?
If your car is labeled as a flex-fuel vehicle then it can use e85 as well as gasoline as fuel. However, if your car is not a flex-fuel vehicle and is equipped with a traditional gas cap without an e85 label, then it cannot use e85. If the gas cap is colored yellow with an e85 label, you can use e85.
E85 gas is a combination of ethanol and gasoline. Traditional fuels contain a high proportion of gasoline but e85 consists of ethanol ranging from 51% to 85% based on the region you are in.
Only a vehicle manufactured as a flex-fuel vehicle has the capability to use e85 and regular gasoline, traditional cars cannot combust and run on e85.
Traditional vehicles have always used gasoline as its main fuel and there are only a handful of vehicles manufactured that utilizes the e85 fuel. This e85 fuel is mostly ethanol mixed a less amount of gasoline.
Traditional gasoline contains 10% to even less amount of ethanol in them, but in the case of e85 – the amount of ethanol rises to 85% whereas gasoline remains a minority.
Due to the nature of ethanol and how it burns in the engine, traditional car engines cannot handle it and therefore is prone to damage if you try using e85 on non flex-fuel cars.
However, it is worth investing in a flex-fuel car because e85 is cheap compared to gasoline as well as being environmentally friendly.
The only few drawbacks to using e85 is that it does not provide as high mileage as gasoline, thus you need to refuel your car more frequently.
You can identify whether your car can use e85 or not by looking at the gas cap. If its color is yellow and has an E85 label on it, then your car can use both e85 and gasoline.
However, if you are unsure whether your car is a flex-fuel vehicle or not – you can use your vehicle’s VIN to check if the engine is suited to use e85.
Is e85 safe for my car? Does E85 make more power?
If your vehicle is a flex-fuel vehicle, it is safe to use e85. But on using flex fuel, you will notice a drop in fuel efficiency and mileage of your car which would lead you to refuel your car more often.
This is because ethanol is 33% less fuel efficient than gasoline and gives 3% less miles per gallon. Which means it will make less power.
Using e85 on a flex-fuel vehicle will not cause damage to its engines or trigger check engine lights, so it is perfectly safe for your flex-fuel car to use e85 without causing damage to the engine.
However, if you don’t have a flex-fuel vehicle, using e85 is harmful if you keep using it repetitively.
With e85 on a non flex-fuel vehicle, the performance drop is still noticeable as flex-fuel vehicles but you will have a worse driving experience since the engine can’t burn e85 well.
Repeated use of e85 would eventually cause your car to turn on check engine lights due to the damage it is causing to the engine. Thus, e85 is not safe for non flex-fuel cars.
What is E85 gas?
E85 gas is a fuel made from a combination of ethanol and gasoline, which is used as a cheap alternative to traditional gasoline in many specialized vehicles called flex-fuel vehicles.
These gasses consist of around 85% ethanol whereas there is only 15% gasoline – which is the complete opposite of traditional gasoline.
E85 gas is gaining popularity in the US because it reduces the dependence on foreign gasoline and for being cheap as they are domestically produced. Besides the cost, e85 is also environmentally friendly as it has a lower carbon footprint compared to gasoline.
Four reasons why a car can use e85
E85 can be a better alternative to gasoline and below listed are the reasons why a car can use e85:
Less carbon deposits in the engine:
Due to having a lower carbon footprint, e85 keeps the engine cleaner and does not leave carbon deposits all over the engine like gasoline. Using e85 keeps the fuel injectors, combustion chambers and pistons free of carbon build-ups.
Ethanol in the e85 also acts as a cleaner as it helps remove the carbon build-up in the fuel systems which causes the engines to never lose their performance or efficiency and makes the engine stay durable.
Fewer air pollutants released into the atmosphere:
E85 is environmentally friendly as it releases a significantly less amount of carbon and other greenhouse gasses because e85 does not contain PAHs unlike gasoline, which causes them to release pollutants when burnt.
Less cost compared to gasoline:
E85 costs much less compared to gasoline per gallon but also it reduces costs for the engine maintenance that you would face if you used gasoline.
Since e85 is made from ethanol which is predominantly produced in the US, there is very little dependence on gasoline from foreign sources.
Besides that, e85 keeps the engine clean and keeps away carbon deposits – thus cutting down on maintenance costs.
Better engine cooling:
E85 has lower combustion temperatures which is why they burn at lower temperatures compared to gasoline. This helps keep the engine cool faster as the heat dissipates faster and keeps the engine healthy.
How to find out if my car can use e85?
Car engines are generally built to use gasoline as it’s main fuel so it’s manufactured to combust gasoline well.
Gasoline consists of 90% gasoline and less than 10% ethanol, therefore traditional cars have a specific design that allows them to burn gasoline efficiently.
However, e85 consists of 85% ethanol and only 15% gasoline. Ethanol burns very differently than gasoline and thus, traditional car engines cannot withstand that and leads to damage.
There are specific cars manufactured that is designed to be able to use e85 as well as gasoline. To identify whether your car is able to use e85 – your need to check the car’s fuel cap.
If your car’s fuel cap is yellow and had an E85 label on it, your car can use e85. Alternatively, you can also check your car’s VIN to know whether it is compatible.
What happens if I put e85 in my car?
E85 burns differently compared to gasoline, so you can expect that it will also have different effects on your car and driving experience compared to gasoline. Below listed are the common phenomenons faced when you drive a car running on e85:
Regardless of whether you’re using a flex-fuel car or not, you will notice that you are experiencing poor performance compared to driving on gasoline.
Compared to gasoline, burning e85 gives 3% less miles covered each gallon. This decrease in mileage is due to the lower efficiency of e85 than what you would experience in gasoline driven cars.
Cleaner driving experience:
E85 burns cleaner and does not cause carbon build-ups like gasoline. E85 instead acts as a cleaning agent to keep the engine free of carbon deposits.
Difficulty in winter:
E85 combusts at a lower temperature, which could be a problem in winter as it would be difficult for the engine to start.
What vehicles can run E85?
There are specific vehicles that can run e85 and they are listed below:
- Chevrolet Express 2500/3500
- Chevrolet Silverado 2WD 2021
- Chevrolet Silverado 2WD 2022
- Chevrolet Silverado 4WD – Mud Terrain Tires 2022
- Chevrolet Silverado 4WD 2021
- Chevrolet Silverado 4WD 2022
- Ford Explorer AWD FFV 2021
- Ford Explorer AWD FFV 2022
- Ford F-150 2WD FFV 2021
- Ford F-150 2WD FFV 2022
- Ford F-150 4WD FFV
- Ford Super Duty F-250 2021
- Ford Super Duty F250, F350, F450
- Ford Transit 250/350 Cargo Van
- Ford Transit Connect Van FFV 2021
- Ford Transit Connect Van FFV 2022
- Ford Transit T150 Passenger Van 2WD FFV 2022
- Ford Transit T150 Passenger Van 4WD FFV 2022
- GMC Savana 2500/3500
- GMC Sierra 2WD 2021
- GMC Sierra 2WD 2022
- GMC Sierra 4WD 2021
- GMC Sierra 4WD 2022
If your vehicle is classified as a flex-fuel vehicle, it can run on both e85 and gasoline. However, if your vehicle is not a flex-fuel vehicle and has a regular gas cap with no e85 label, it cannot run on e85. You can use e85 if the gas cap is yellow and has an e85 label.
I am an automotive enthusiast and have been interested in cars since I was a little kid. I have worked in the automotive industry for many years and have extensive knowledge of vehicles and their engines. I am a father of two and I love spending time with my family.
Read more about the author here.