Buying and E85 car

impala
chevrolet
flex

#1

I have come across some cars that run on E85 ethanol/gas mixture (2006,2007 chevy Malibus and Chevy Impalas). Can all these cars run on regular gasoline also? Is every car that runs on E85 automatically a flex fuel vehicle? Are these cars which have run on E85 most of the time likely to have any more maintrenance issues later, particularly if they are capable of being switched to regular Gasoline and I make the switch?


#2

You can use regular gasoline or E85. I believe you mean the Monte Carlo and not the Malibu. There should not be any greater need for maintenance in a flex fuel car. I would use regular and not E85, since the cost difference typically does not justify the huge drop in mileage. The Impala gets 18/28 city/highway on regular and 14/21 on E85. Mileage on E85 is about 75% of mileage on regular. If gas is $3, then E85 would have to be $2.25 to break even. I would not pay a premium to get an E85 car.


#3

Flex fuel vehicles can run on anything from straight gasoline with no ethanol added up to 85% ethanol. Running E85 is harder on some engine components than running regular gasoline, so you may have to do some maintenance earlier than otherwise. Many flex fuel vehicles require spark plug changes at 60,000 miles as opposed to 100,000 miles if E85 is used. Some early flex fuel vehicles had problems switching back and forth (mid '90s Tauruses come to mind), but I haven’t heard of any such issues with newer flex fuel vehicles.


#4

I believe that the flex fuel hoax is that most new cars made are capable of running on a multiple of fuels. Those that officially aren’t may require some “minor” fuel system modifications that have nothing to do with capability and more to do with warranty coverage and certification.
That we don’t promote other alcohol based fuels (which are much cheaper and worth the mileage penalty) other than ethanol is the other big hoax. But then, who’d buy all that gasoline and govt. subsidized ethanol ?
So I agree it’s best just to use regular if it’s available.


#5

While we’re on the subject of subsidized ethanol - Did you hear that certain Midwestern Elected Officials are trying to pass legislation to force increased use of ethanol? Thy want E10 to become E15 to use up all that refining capacity that is available but not currently used. None of the auto manufacturers are willing to go along with it. They even warned that the use of E15 could damage anything except E85 vehicles. To say this distresses me would be am understatement.


#6

It’s worse than than, no law required, the EPA is contemplating ruling on the requirement. What a disaster!


#7

Many GM vehicles are “flex-fuel” vehicles, which run on any mixture of ethanol and gasoline. There probably isn’t any extra maintenance you have to do if you run it on ethanol, but in some areas, E85 pumps are rare. In my area (Northern California), there is only one ethanol station in my (large) city, and it may not be open for the public. Also, gas mileage decreases because ethanol doesn’t have as much energy per gallon as straight gasoline.


#8

But then, who’d buy all that gasoline and govt. subsidized ethanol ?

E85 is quite popular in parts of the country where they grow corn. If your family business relies on corn farmers, who would you rather support, Big Oil, or your local economy?


#9

When the EPA makes a rule, it is the law (administrative law). Statutory law (legislation) can override administrative law, but technically, EPA rules are laws.