With gas prices rising, should you take another look at E85 Flex Fuel?

Picture of a gas pump at a gas station in Springfield.
Picture of a gas pump at a gas station in Springfield.(KY3)
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 8:16 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As gas prices move back up to $4 a gallon, closing in on $5 in California, some drivers are once again checking out a cheaper option: Ethanol based gas, or “Flex Fuel.”

You might have noticed lately that more and more gas stations are offering E85 fuel, and some are now offering E15.

Both blends are almost always a lot cheaper than regular.

But is it a smart idea, and is it safe for your car?

Vince Ward was interested.

“Looks like it’s 30 cents cheaper on the gallon,” he said, looking at the E85 pump.

E85 — made primarily with corn alcohol — was selling for $3.23 instead of $3.53 for regular gas, and $4.03 for midgrade.

So what’s the difference between these blends and regular 87 gas? It’s confusing.

We checked with the US Department of Energy to find out the difference.

87 octane regular typically contains 10% ethanol. It’s fine for all vehicles.

E15 gas contains more ethanol at 15%, something the Biden administration has been pushing for, to cut our dependence on expensive oil.

“You’re gonna be able to keep filling up with E15 and it’s gonna solve a whole lot of problems,” Biden recently told Iowa corn farmers.

But the strongest ethanol blend is E85.

E85 contains 85% ethanol. Here is the important thing: it is only for Flex Fuel vehicles that say “Flex Fuel” allowed, and typically have a yellow fuel cap.

Vince Ward, tired of rising prices, is going to check these blends out “I’m gonna go ahead and research it myself and see if it is any better than the regular,” Ward said

Yes, E85 is cheaper: But there’s a catch.

The US EPA says most vehicles see a 15-20% mileage reduction with E85.

So E85 needs to cost 20% less than gas to save money.

If you are not sure if this gas is safe for your car, check with your dealer’s service department or your mechanic: they’ll give you an honest opinion so you don’t waste your money.

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