my son put E85 in his '02 chrysler minivan. wouldn’t start next day. Dealer put in new plugs, O2 sensor and drained all the fuel out. When I went to fill it up with regular gas, I noticed a sticker inside the fuel filler door that said this vehicle can use E85. When I asked the dealer they said that because he had been using regular fuel, the computers had set everything for that and dumping E85 into it “Confused the computer” and caused the damage. Have we been scammed?

While I’ve never heard of this, I’m inclined to believe that since the problem was corrected and the van is running properly now you have not been scammed.

NOTE: while it may have needed a new oxygen sensor, the O2 signal is bypassed by the computer when the engine is started in order to allow rich operation. This would not have prevented startup.

According to this website, yes, your minivan is E85 compatible:

Dealer saying you caused the problem by using fuel for which the vehicle was designed sounds bo-o-o-gus.

And your son may have just been unlucky and got a contaminated batch of E85.

Probably not “scammed”, and probably not bad fuel. The dealer was probably just wrong, not trying to rip you off, but then again…

I suspect that the non-start is a coincidence. The dealer is likely in error on that point. I would guess that they have not solved the problem, either. Try a different garage and see if they can locate a problem if you encounter problems in the near future. If you don’t know of a good one, ask everyone you know for a recommendation. One or two garages will be mentioned most often. Those are worth a try.

Have You Tried Your Owner’s Manual ? Is It Cold There ?

The manual in my wife’s E-85 capable 2009 Impala says that if there are starting problems using E-85 in wintertime the fuel may not be properly formulated for your climate.

They go on and say that starting problems can be helped by adding gasoline or switching to gasoline.

For good winter starting and heater efficiency (E-85 has less energy) below 32F degrees the fuel in the tank should have no more than 70% ethanol content (that nixes E-85). They also recommend not to repeatedly switch between gasoline and E-85 and if you do switch add at least 3 gallons and then drive at least 7 miles to allow the car to adapt.

So much for corn juice in the tank. I’d wait til summer to experiment.


not all '02 Chrysler minivans are E-85 compatible.

" . . . I noticed a sticker inside the fuel filler door that said this vehicle can use E85."

Just Four Stars ? Are You Kidding Me ?


Thanks, everyone for the responses. I’ve told my son to always use regular unleaded fuel from now on. It costs more for the fuel, but hopefully avoid another $480 visit to the mechanic.

Good Decision. No Big Loss. That E-85 Is No Prize. It Sells For Less, But As I Mentioned Contains Less Energy And Offers Considerably Fewer Miles Per Gallon And Potential Problems.

Once bitten, twice shy.