E85 vs regular gas comparison is something many drivers love to know because everyone wants what’s best for his/her car engine.
Well, the major difference between these two types of fuel is the blended ethanol quantity; E85 has more ethanol than regular gas. The E85 gas is specially formulated to perform better than regular gas.
Fewer emission, promises higher economy, and also produces a lower carbon footprint, E85 gas is considered the best type of fuel to use, especially on FFVs – Flex-Fuel Vehicles.
But just as the E85 has has several good sides, it has bad sides too, which we’ll look into shortly!
E85 Fuel Overview
E85 simply refers to a flex-fuel type, which contains 85% ethanol fuel and 15% gasoline. Well, not only gasoline is used in the blend; it could be ethanol and any other hydrocarbon – the hydrocarbon would occupy 15% while ethanol remains 85% in the mix.
Notwithstanding, sometimes, the ethanol ratio would vary; the ratio of ethanol to hydrocarbon to achieve flex-fuel ranges from 51% to 85%. This variation applies to allow the possibility of creating flex fuels that would run efficiently in all seasons.
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Basically, E85 fuel is meant to be used on vehicles that accept flex fuels; these vehicles are referred to as FFVs (Flex Fuel Vehicles). The engine design of FFVs is different from non-FFVs; hence, running a flex-fuel, in this case, E85 on a non-FFV is not advisable; it may hurt the engine in the long run.
But, although E85 may appear all good and attractive to many, it is not as efficient as regular gas. Test results by some top auto experts showed that E85 makes you drive lower MPG (Miles Per Gallon).
So, typically, the total mileage on an FFV may be almost, or over 50% lower than what you have on a non-FFV driven at the same speed/mileage.
Regular Gas Overview
Also called Unleaded Gas, Regular Gas is a type of fuel with an octane level of 87 for improved combustion process in ICEs. Of course, there are “Regular gases” with higher octane levels up to 90.
However, because it contains high octane does not imply the fuel is very efficient. Actually, Regular/Unleaded Gas is sold in three categories:
- Regular Gas: This has the lowest octane level, usually 87
- Midgrade: As the name connotes, this is the middle range of “Regular Gas.” It usually has octane levels from 89 – 90.
- Premium: This is the highest grade; fuels in this grade have octane levels between 91 and 94.
All regular gas is the same when being delivered to gas stations. However, after delivery, different gas stations have different additives they add to the gas/fuel to achieve certain ratings. Also, all regular gas emits more harmful carbon and emissions than E85 fuel.
E85 Vs Regular Gas: Major Differences
1. Fuel Efficiency
This is one of the deciding factors for many drivers; most drivers want the fuel with the highest efficiency.
Ethanol burns more energy, so the fuel efficiency of fuel with a higher percentage of ethanol would be poor. So to say, regular gas provides higher fuel efficiency than E85.
2. Protection and Cleaning
E85 fuel tends to clean the engine better than regular gasoline – although premium gas cleans the engine almost the same as E85 fuel.
You would have your engine cleaned better with E85 than with regular gas – but, of course, you must have an engine that allows flex fuel before putting E85 into the gas tank.
3. Availability and Compatibility
There are cars designed to use flex fuels, and there are cars built to use gasoline. Although you can use regular gas on FFVs, putting E85 into an engine meant to run with regular gas can result in fatal engine damage.
Talking of availability; E85 is not widely available – you’d rarely find a fuel station that sells E85 in some states. So, you’d have to drive several miles to a “Particular” fuel station all the time you need to top up fuel in your car’s gas tank.
In contrast, you can see and buy regular gas in virtually all fuel stations nationwide, and globally. Regular gas is more readily available than E85, which is why most people stick with their ICE vehicles that use diesel or unleaded gas.
E85 is more eco-friendly than gasoline. Yes, the E85 fuel has fewer emissions and also produces lower carbon footprints that are harmful to the environment. Gasoline, on the other hand, has been improved over the years to be more eco-friendly, but it is not yet as environmentally friendly as E85.
In places where you can find E85 fuel, it is usually cheaper than gasoline. E85 is more affordable in fuel stations – even in regions where Ethanol needs to be imported for E85 production.
Conclusion: Is it Better to Use E85 or Regular Gas?
In comparing E85 vs regular gas, these are the major differences to point out. Of course, both E85 and unleaded gas produce emissions and harmful carbons, E85 produces fewer of these harmful gases than regular gasoline. Before settling with E85, ensure that you’ve got a fuel station that sells the fuel in your proximity.
Furthermore, if you’re looking to achieve higher fuel efficiency, then you’ve got to stick with regular gas. To make sure you buy the best regular gasoline, it is advisable to buy from Tier 1 gas stations, where you’d get premium gas. Tier 1 gas stations include Shell, BP, Amoco, and others.