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E-85 Flex Fuel conversion kit

Since my local gasoline dealer has started prominently posting the price of E-85 fuel, and it’s about $1/gallon less than regular unleaded, I started looking at so-called Flex Fuel conversion kits for my gasoline only 2009 Hyundai Sonata. There are a couple of different manufacturers and the advisability of installing one is as varied as there are forums to cover such modifications.

Basically, what these kits purport to do is read the car computer’s emission control data and alter the signal sent to the fuel injectors so the emission data is in keeping with the spec for the car running on the fuel recommended by the auto manufacturer. One brand has a mixture control that has to be adjusted if/when you want to switch from E85 to regular gasoline or from gas to E85. The other automatically senses the gas/ethanol fuel mixture and self-adjusts to prevent damage to emission control components and keep the check-engine light from coming on. It’s the more expensive of the two, but the one that I would opt for were I to decide to buy one of these gizmos.

The cost of the more sophisticated device is around $300. The other one is about $250. The devices are vehicle specific, so when I trade cars I couldn’t just remove the device and install it on another vehicle. There is a small range of vehicles the same device will accommodate, but never more than two or three years between models and usually very specific to models within a make.

I figure at about $1/gallon difference in the cost of fuel, one of these devices, assuming they work as advertised, using my driving history, would pay for itself in less than a year. I plan to keep my car for three more years, so the cost saving could be significant.

My question is, has anyone had any experience with these devices and if so, what are your thoughts on them? Based on what I’ve read, I’m about ready to ante up, but I’m not sure I’m being objective. Any thoughts on whether this modification is advisable, whether it would damage my emission control or other engine components, and would it actually work? I’m optimistically skeptical.

At a dollar less per gallon you will never break even. Modern cars are capable of adjusting fuel trim to 33% before the check engine light is lit. Flex fuel cars can go beyond that to adjust to the fuel. If you are consuming 40% more fuel, $1 less per gallon makes it a wash.

Buy a flex fuel vehicle for temporary use if you want to use E85. A 2012 Flex fuel Buick Regal with the 2.4 L engine is rated at 23 MPG combined with gasoline, 17 MPG with E85. You will tire of refilling more often.

That is one of the concerns that even the manufacturers of these kits admit… Fuel economy is not their forte. I’m not considering it altogether for $ savings, although that is a factor. I try to do what I can for the environment and it just seems to me that burning a renewable energy source is “greener” than using up the world’s oil reserves before we try something different. And I’m not that keen on electric vehicles because, while directly they produce zero emissions, the primary fuel used to generate electricity in this country is still coal… One of the worst offenders of clean air known to man.

When you consider the fuel used gor the tractors to grow the corn, the fertilizers used that have to be transported, the corn removed from our food supply thet has to be replaced by other food sources, the transportation cof the ethanol and the refining of it which also use energy there is no net energy gain by using ethanol. It’s sole advantage is to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

If it was not for government subsidies no one would do it. That is true of the economics of windmills, solar power and electric cars. The only time windmills and solar make economic sense in the absence of of subsidies is if you are living off the grid .

Solar city is in danger of failure because regulators are rethinking forcing power companies to buy excess electricity from customers back at full retail price.


How do I edit to correct a post? I despise the new format. Why should you have to hunt for a way to do something that was right there on the page before?

The little pencil down at the bottom of your message allows you to edit. The pencil is visible only to the person who posted the message. I’m new here, so I can’t comment on how it used to be.

I would be concerned that a $300 kit would not contain adequate parts to make a safe, reliable conversion. That 30% reduction in fuel mileage means you need to pump 30% more fuel through your injectors. Are they big enough? Probably not, so the first full throttle blast to allow you to merge onto a busy highway causes a lean condition and burns a hole in a piston. Is the fuel pump capable of delivering enough fuel? Maybe, maybe not. What happens when you transition from a full tank of E85 back to E10? Your mixture is E50 maybe? How does this magical $300 unicorn handle transitions? An E85/E10 switch isn’t going to cut it. $300 isn’t enough to cover this.

I’ve seen conversions to E85 on performance cars… Revised fuel system, a % alcohol sensor and new ECU to revise the timing to optimize for use with E85 are all included. That is about $4000 retail worth of parts.

If you want to be “greener” buy a car with the highest MPG ratings you can find without it being a hybrid - not so green to make, with all the materials mined and flown 'round the world to make the batteries - and preferably a diesel. At least one that hasn’t been dinged by the EPA for emissions cheating (not sure which that would be…) and run it on bio-diesel. At least bio-diesel is a renewable fuel that doesn’t need to be distilled into alcohol, just squeezed and processed. You still have the fuel to farm it and the removal of food from the table part. This is all about making compromises as there is no fully “green” solution no matter what anybody says.

Or buy solar panels and a windmill (green energy), use it to charge a lead-acid battery (98% recycled material) bank to charge your electric car. Still have that nasty battery problem, bigger now, but whattaya gonna do? Compromises again.

Or move within walking distance from work.

This will save you no money, and do nothing for the environment. Forget about it.

And even it there was any benefit, I would not modify the guts of my complex EFI system.

Not true.

Coal = 33%
Natural gas = 33%
Nuclear = 20%
Hydropower = 6%
Other renewables = 7%
Biomass = 1.6%
Geothermal = 0.4%
Solar = 0.6%
Wind = 4.7%
Petroleum = 1%

I’m convinced. I’ll let someone else be the guinea pig for the E85 conversion kits. My car is running perfectly and I’ve never had a moment’s problem with it since I drove it off the dealer’s lot when it was new. I fully expect to keep it a full 10 years then buy another new one.

My next car will probably be a hybrid. I think that’s where the industry is moving. Electric cars ultimately increase the amount of coal burned to produce electricity, the infrastructure for recharging them is basically nonexistent, and they’ve got a LONG ways to go in battery technology to make them practical. Bio-Diesel is caught in a vicious circle… Not enough demand to make it viable, and without a significant increase in demand, the availability of Bio-Diesel is not going to see significant increases.

OK… There is a move toward shutting down air polluting coal burning power plants. But it’s still joined by Natural Gas at the top of the list of fuels used to generate electricity. And EPA regulations and air scrubbers notwithstanding, it’s still extremely harmful to the environment, whereas natural gas is clean burning and at the present time, quite plentiful.

That isn’t true. The vast majority of corn grown here is never intended for our food supply.

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I agree, those millions of acres of corn fields you see along the midwest highways are generally field corn (cow corn). Maybe the cows are hungry now and that is why steak is costly.

Wow. Unreal. I can’t possibly imagine burning coal being a third of the electricity production in this country. What a horrible thing. Coal has got to be the dirtiest way of producing electricity. The last coal fired power plant around here closed years ago, hopefully the rest of the country will follow suit soon. Hydro is the way to go. And nuclear. I think something like 60% of electricity in WA comes from hydro.

Build dams and nuclear power plants. Then you’ll have clean, cheap electricity to charge your plug-in hybrids and electrics and buy less gasoline.

Kentucky is coal country, and it’s a political football around here. Politiicians don’t dare speak out about the gross pollution caused by coal fired generating plants and the mountains of ash that pollute the ground water throughout the rural parts of the state. WA is a progressive state and you’re right. Hydro is the way to go. And although nuclear power plants have somewhat of a bad rap, the worst disaster in U.S. history wouldn’t hold a candle to the BP Oil fiasco in terms of harm to the environment.

Sad to say, but Kentuckians traditionally vote against their own best interests. The average age of a Kentucky coal miner is 58. Black Lung kills them before they ever have a chance to retire. Yet they defend to the limit the right of mine owners to pollute the environment, ravish the land, and kill their employees.

Thanks daviidpar, I never would have found that on my own. It the top right corner of your post was the word edit, you just clicked on that. I was just going to message you rether than post it but it looks like that has changed also.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to do either. Sierra Clubbers fight the installation of dams because it endangers some obscure fish, frog or habitat so no hydro. Virtually ALL eco-warriors, greenies, no-nukes folks and others will protest a nuke plant.

So it ain’t gonna happen.

From a Scientific American article.
Although U.S. corn is a highly productive crop, with typical yields of 140 to 160 bushels per acre, the resulting delivery of food by the corn system is far lower. Today’s corn crop is mainly used for biofuels (roughly 40 percent is used for ethanol) and as animal feed (roughly 36 percent plus distillers waste left over from ethanol production, is fed to cattle, pigs, and chickens). Much of the rest is exported. Only a tiny fraction of the national corn crop is directly used for food for Americans, much of that for high-fructose corn syrup.
So unless you are a strict vegan corn contributes to a rather large portion of your food supply. I realize you are addressing corn in our direct food supply. I would not count high-fructose corn syrup as food.

A large portion of the U.S. is unsuitable for hydroelectric plus the majority of our dams were built with “shovel ready” government (CCC) jobs that actually existed during the Great Depression. My parents moved here in 1936 and said hydro electricity was being touted as “to cheap to meter”! Yeah right. Just like nuclear, solar, and wind. Since I don’t see ethanol as a suitable fuel for our current vehicles I wonder if it could be used to generate electricity?