FLEX FUEL 101

A commonly discussed thing in the automotive industry is flex fuel.  There is a lot to understand when making the conversion, or purchasing a flex fuel vehicle. With many benefits, and some disadvantages we’ve got the full run down on Flex Fuel for you.

What Is Flex Fuel?

Fist and foremost, what is flex fuel? Developed in the early 1990’s Flex fuel, or flexible fuel, is an alternative fuel made of a combination of gasoline and methanol or ethanol. Flex-fuel vehicles are those that have internal combustion engines designed to run on more than one type of fuel. Other than a few modifications to the engine and fuel system, flex-fuel vehicles are virtually identical to gasoline-only models.

Flex Fuel Benefits

1. Cleaner for the Environment

One main reason some people switch to flex fuel is to contribute to a cleaner environment.  Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline, which means flex-fuel cars pump fewer toxic fumes into the environment. Flex fuel also contributes fewer greenhouse gases, making it a more environmentally friendly option than traditional gasoline.

2. Advanced Technology
COBB 312560 Flex Fuel Ethanol Sensor Kit 5-Pin
COBB 312560 Flex Fuel Ethanol Sensor Kit 5-Pin

Modern flex-fuel vehicles are built using advanced technology such as electronic sensors. These technological advances allow your car to adjust the way it’s operating, including detecting the fuel blend and making any necessary adjustments. Modern flex-fuel cars can contain 10 to 85 percent ethanol. Thanks to the technology it’s equipped with, your vehicle will determine the most efficient proportions.

5. Ingredients

Many flex-fuel vehicles run on ethanol, which is sustainably produced from ingredients such as cane sugar and corn. This makes ethanol a good alternative to purchasing foreign oil.

6. Improved Performance

One of the main reasons many enthusiast seek flex fuel is for improved performance. Some might try argue that using an alternative fuel source can negatively impact a vehicle’s performance, but in reality it can have the opposite effect. Flex-fuel vehicles don’t experience a loss in performance when using E85 fuel. In fact, many even generate increased torque and horsepower.

Disadvantages of Flex Fuel

Along with many advantages, come some disadvantages. Its important to know the good with the bad whenever making a purchase.

1. Sole Crop Use

While it’s great that flex fuel can be sustainably produced using corn and sugar, its production comes with a downside. Crops designed to be used for flex-fuel production can’t be allocated to other sources. This could potentially drive up the price of animal feed. Corn is also susceptible to disease and weather conditions such as flooding and drought. This can be problematic for corn prices during poor harvest seasons.

2. Possible Engine Damage

Keeping your engine in the best condition possible is number 1 priority with a performance vehicle. Unfortunately, ethanol absorbs dirt easily, which can potentially corrode and damage your engine. 

3. Gas Mileage

One of the main concerns about driving a flex-fuel car is its gas mileage. While some experts assert that flex-fuel vehicles have similar mileage as regular fuel-powered vehicles, others claim they have lower gas mileage. While ethanol does raise a vehicle’s octane level, it contains less energy. In other words, it will take 1.5 times more to provide the same energy levels. So, yes, you will get fewer miles per gallon using ethanol. However, ethanol costs less than regular gasoline, so the savings should more than offset the mileage loss.

4. Fuel Stations

Because flex fuel isn’t as economical as gasoline, gas stations are less likely to carry it. In fact, only a small percentage of gas stations nationwide supply ethanol, although that is likely to change as more consumers purchase flex-fuel vehicles. The benefit of a modern flex-fuel vehicle, though, is that you can use any combination of gasoline and ethanol, whether it’s 100 percent unleaded gas or 85 percent ethanol. Your vehicle’s sensors will detect the blend and make the necessary changes. However, with the growth of flex fuel Iphone & Android have applications available in the marketplace to help find gas stations with flex fuel options.

In Conclusion

Ultimately only you can decide which benefits and disadvantages are either the deal maker, or breaker for you and your vehicle. While many decide to make the upgrade to a flex fuel vehicle, for the performance gains alone there are many not ready to make the leap. If you decide you’re ready, click here to begin browsing. If you decide you’re not ready yet, just keep an eye for future technology upgrades and look into other modifications that may make you feel more comfortable to make the switch.  A great addition to any vehicle when going flex fuel would be gauges, which help you monitor all of your vehicles levels. To learn more about gauges, click here.