Duluth Auto Repair

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Is Flex Fuel Worth It?

We've had a few customers ask about E85 fuel and flex-fuel vehicles, so we know there's a lot of confusion about this "gas saving" trend. So this month, we're answering common questions to clear up some of the confusion and misperception about flex fuel systems.


What is E85? 

Much of the gasoline sold in the US (about 1/3) contains some ethanol. A typical ratio is 90% gasoline with 10% ethanol. Ethanol flex fuel reverses that ratio, with more ethanol than gasoline - E85 gets its name because it is made with 85% ethanol to 15% gasoline.


Can I use E85 in my vehicle? 

Not all vehicles are "flexible fuel vehicles," meaning they can run on both standard gasoline and E85 fuel. The only difference between standard and flex fuel vehicles are a few engine and fuel system modifications. These changes allow the engine to burn ethanol based fuel without loss in performance.


To find out if your vehicle can operate on E85, call our experts at 770-495-7881. Or you can check your vehicle for a yellow gas cap, a label on the fuel door, a badge on the vehicle, or refer to the owner's manual.

Is it worth getting a Flex Fuel System?

In short - probably not. From our experience with vehicle performance, flex fuel systems are not notably better than traditional gasoline powered vehicles. The E85 debate is full of pros and cons, but here are two common arguments: 

  1. Ethanol is better for the environment, but E85 burns cleaner than gasoline, meaning it might reduce air pollution. However, studies suggest these vehicles only achieve up to 3% reduction of emissions.
    Ethanol is generally produced from renewable corn crops grown on American farms. Some believe this makes E85 an eco-friendly, sustainable alternative to traditional gasoline and oil reserves. However, there are also environmental concerns about the production of ethanol.
  2. Do Flex Fuel vehicles perform better? A common misconception about E85 vehicles is that they get better gas mileage - this is not true. Flex fuel vehicles typically get about 15-30% fewer miles per gallon when running on E85 as compared to traditional gasoline. Performance of flex fuel vehicles vs. traditional gasoline powered vehicles is virtually the same - in road tests, experts could not detect any notable difference in engine performance, smoothness, or sound.

There are better ways to go green with your vehicle! Check your gas cap, air filter, and tire pressure. Proper inflation can improve your gas mileage by 3.3% or more. Learn more tips in this video from the Monday Morning Mechanic: Go GREEN with your car this Earth Day!


If you're thinking about a flex fuel vehicle, consider the factors above and read more about How E85 Ethanol Flex Fuel Works to determine if a flex fuel vehicle is right for your family. For more information about E85 and Flex Fuel vehicles, or going green with your vehicle, contact our experts at 770-495-7881.




On April 22, 1970, 20 million people across America "took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment" with the goal of raising awareness and bringing environmental issues to the forefront of national politics. 


This year marks the 45th anniversary. Here are a few milestones from Earth Day's 45-year history:

  • 1970 - Senator Gaylord Nelson founded the first Earth Day
  • 2000 - more than 180 countries participated in Earth Day
  • 2007 - Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo held special activities, setting a single-day attendance record of over 40,000 people
  • 2009 - Disney released the documentary film "Earth" that followed four animal families
  • 2009 - The United Nations renamed the holiday "International Mother Earth Day"
  • 2011- In Panama, 100 endangered species of orchids were planted and maintained to prevent extinction
  • 2011- 28 million trees were planted in Afghanistan
  • 2012- 100,000 people in China rode bikes to reduce CO2 and save fuel
  • 2014 - Earth Day Network members hosted 10,000 Earth Day events worldwide, with the theme "Green Cities"

This year, the Earth Day Network set a goal to reach 2 Billion "Acts of Green." Whether you renew your commitment to green practices, join a festival, change a habit, or spend some time outside, you can participate in the festivities this Earth Day! Let us know how you're going green this season.