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Convert to Ethanol E85

I am thinking about converting my car to run on E85 by using one of the commercially available “FFI Platinum” conversion kits, for example available on

My car is a 1996 Honda del Sol VTEC with ~115,000 miles.

I’m hoping to get some advice/feedback from others who may have done this to a similar age car.

Have you encountered any problems (e.g., need to change fuel filter, oil more frequently, problems with gas tank/fuel lines etc.)?

Are there any preparations you would recommend before making the conversion (changing oil at X miles, running synthetic oil, cleaning fuel system, etc.)?

I am not interested in hearing any of the following banter which I have read on other E85 questions on this forum. These issues do not matter with regards to this question. I will attempt to cover as many here as I can remember:

-E85 is bad/good for food prices

-E85 is more/less expensive

-E85 lowers fuel efficiency X-Y%

-E85 has a higher octane rating

-E85 supports/hurts farmers

-E85 is bad/good for the economy

-E85 is bad/good for the environment

-Converting a car to E85 is/isn’t approved by the EPA

-Car X was not designed to run on E85

-Cars older than X shouldn’t run on E85

-E85 is the devil/an angel

-E85 is good/bad

-I love/hate E85 for reason X

-Public figurehead X loves/hates E85, you should too

I am looking for technical information only. Please leave all political agendas in another forum.

How expensive are those kits? I can’t see it paying for itself in a car that old. I think you have to keep the car for years before it pays for itself. Granted Honda’s reliable long lasting cars…but by the time you get your money back the car will be over 20 years old.

I took a quick look at that website. My suspicions were raised immediately since they also sell Pulstar spark plugs. Those are pure nonsense.

The kit is incomplete, at best. It only consists of an electronic control unit that is wired between the OEM engine computer and the fuel injectors. I’m not sure how that can accurately determine the percentage of alcohol in the fuel. I guess it remaps the timing and injector pulse width beyond normal parameters based on input from the oxygen and other sensors already in the engine. Most importantly, there are no fuel deliver parts provided. Ethanol is unhealthy for the fuel lines, injectors, etc. in some cars.

BTW, ethanol is GOOD! I prefer mine in the form of merlot with dinner or or a frosty lager on a hot day.

Car X was not designed to run on E85. Ethenol may damage some fuel system components.

The site looked good and the technology legit, but I’d worry about the fuel system. Sorry, I know that’s not what you wanted to hear.

Here’s a web site that basically says Conversion kits haven’t been approved by the EPA yet. You are NOT allowed to convert your car to run E85.

I found that Website NYBo is talking about too…Any place that is selling those Pulstar plugs have to be suspect. Total scam device.

Hmmmm…I missed the Pulstar plugs. Got to get these bifocals checked!

Yeah, my impression too was that it remapped the ECU outputs. Like you, my concern is for the fuel system.

E85 is so corrosive it is best to leave it the professional automakers. You would lose a great car for a risk that is not worth the effort. Stay safe and stay OEM.

I am not concerned about the system paying for itself. This is not an effort to save $. I do not care what other parts the website sells, as I am only interested in the E85 conversion kit. There are a number of other websites selling these kits; they can also be found on e-bay. If it makes you feel better, please ignore the site i linked to and look to the manufacturer page

I am not concerned about being allowed to convert my car to run E85 or not; however, some E85 conversion kits have been approved by the EPA since May 2008. This is unimportant to this discussion however, since it is technically possible to do it. I can also put diesel into my car but that’s also not allowed and obviously not wise.

I am concerned about my car’s engine/components. Specifically, I do have some concern about the fuel system, which is partly why I am asking this question in the first place. Should I consider having the fuel filter/gaskets/etc changed before installing the system, or just wait until after if they do get clogged/gunked up. Do you have any experience with E85 conversion to back up your claims of damage? The only explicit experience info I have at this point comes from the manufacturer which surely has some bias to it.

The manufacturer does have a page of tips/FAQs, which appear to address the concern about the alcohol % sensor.

Your fuel pump, plastic and rubber, located inside the fuel tank, may have a short life submerged in E-85…The ability of the injector control box to accurately re-calibrate fuel volume to almost double is doubtful. It would have to be a “one size fits all” type deal…I would suspect endless driveability problems…

Why don’t you install the kit, evaluate it, and post back with your findings…

if I work up the courage to go forward, I will definitely report back. I the meantime I am hoping others who have already done this will chime in with their results.

I do not care what other parts the website sells

The point being made is if the site is also promoting the Pulstar plugs, then how do you know this E85 conversion kit isn’t as much of a scam?

Also based on your reply, it looks like you didn’t hear the concern raised by several about the corrosion to the fuel system components in your existing vehicle.

I appreciate the concern and now understand the comment. For all I know it is indeed some sort of scam. I’m optimistic, but within reason… otherwise I wouldn’t be asking about this in the first place.

The corrosion is definitely a concern. My only problem is that people simply say, “don’t do X, Y will happen” without offering any sort of experience or facts to back up their claims. Gas where I live in the winter is 10% ethanol, wouldn’t this also cause corrosion?

What will happen if I put E85 in the tank without a conversion kit? I expect rough running with low power and maybe even killing the engine or preventing it from starting. I can’t imagine that even an old fuel system would fail/rust/corrode through immediately. It would take some time.

“Gas where I live in the winter is 10% ethanol, wouldn’t this also cause corrosion?”

No, the rate of both corrosion of metal and dissolution of polymers can be very dependent on concentration. I understand that the corrosive nature of ethanol is partly due to halide contamination, like chloride. These increase corrosion attacking the passivating oxide films on metals. They also increase the conductivity of the fluid which increases electrical and galvanic corrosion.

Ethanol may damage certain polymers used in cars like nitrile, some vinyls, polyethylene, and polyurethane; there are certainly others. See what materials are used in your fuel system and then check a chemical compatibility database like Cole Parmer:

I believe the “Flex-Fuel” vehicles have stainless steel fuel tanks and lines…There must be a reason for that…

Ah, you’re a “true believer.” Ok. I say, “Go for it.” You’re convinced this will work, and you’re not willing to listen to reason, so, DO IT. Buy one of these “kits” (take your pick), install it on your car, and see what happens. I hope you get 50 mpg. SERIOUSLY! I really hope you get incredible gas mileage. If that happens, we’ll all benefit, assuming, of course, that you tell us about it.

Please let us know how it works out. A year from now, please post back and tell us how your Del Sol is running (if it’s running), and what its fuel mileage is (if it’s running).

You’re one of those few individuals who thinks they can outdo the Honda factory engineers, and I salute you for trying. Good luck to you, devilstaco. You’re going to need it.

Please, please, please, let us know the results of your experiment.

I’m not necessarily a “true believer”, I’m just a guy interested in ethanol. Otherwise i would have plunked down the $400 and just ran with it, but like I said before, I am optimistic.

I realize the kits are sold by vendors who offer “miracle” spark plugs and other accessories to increase the gas mileage to 100 mpg or whatever, but I don’t believe there are claims to run E85 at increased fuel economy… everything I have read suggests lower fuel economy by about 20%.

When the Honda factory engineers designed the cars of this era, running on E85 was never an option. The previous attempts to run on “gasohol” were using methanol, which is different than the ethanol blend I am proposing using. I understand methanol is even more corrosive than ethanol.

So again, I will reiterate my question in a more direct sense. Does anyone out there have any direct experience running greater than E10 in their car which wasn’t designed as a flex-fueler? E50? E85?

So again, I will reiterate my question in a more direct sense. Does anyone out there have any direct experience running greater than E10 in their car which wasn’t designed as a flex-fueler? E50? E85?

The replies thus far have provide a great deal of intellect on why such an experiment would cause problems. These folks do not have the direct experience because they have the knowledge and skills on why they shouldn’t do it.

It puzzles me on why you’re looking beyond all this valuable input and are still trying to find some who blindly tried what you’re proposing.

I’m not telling you to listen to the replies verbatim and simply give up, but didn’t any of the input thus far help you in any way?

I wasn’t really expecting to have a quick answer, because I suspect there aren’t a lot of people out there who have done such a conversion (for good reason it sounds like). On a forum for car enthusiasts, I thought there must be a few, though.

some of the replies have indeed been helpful, and the general sense I get is that it really isn’t a good idea. my car is running beautifully right now, and I’d really hate to mess it up permanently for what I though could be a simple experiment.

one problem is that I get totally opposite viewpoints depending where I look. From the kit manufacturer, its “There are no problems converting a car newer than 1990 to run E85” and here I get comments like those above “E85 is so corrosive it is best to leave it the professional automakers.”

Surely the truth must lie somewhere in between.

There is a guy posting at who has done a “cold turkey” switch to E85 on a non flex model. Search in the 4.6 L forum. IIRC, so far, so good, but I don’t recall how long he has been running moonshine.