Flexible vehicles are vehicles whose engines can run on more than one type of fuel.
They have been around since 1990 and were made popular by Ford in 1994.
Over the past decade, these vehicles have grown in popularity and now you will find so many from different automakers.
Can you use regular gas in such vehicles?
Can You Put Regular Fuel In A Flex Fuel Vehicle?
You can use regular fuel in a flex fuel vehicle without any damage to the engine or effects on performance. Motorists can go for regular gas when flex fuels are not affordable, and it will have no effect on the performance of the vehicle.
The main advantage of flex fuel engines is that they are able to burn any fuel regardless of the proportions and the combination of fuel.
This means that you can use fuel with varying compositions, or you can even go for regular traditional gasoline and the vehicle will run just fine.
The engines of these vehicles feature microprocessors that detect the fuel contents, ratios, and combinations and then regulate the fuel injection as needed.
This feature makes the engines user-friendly and convenient in that you can use any type of fuel.
Here is all you need to learn about flex fuel vehicles and how they operate.
How is Flex Fuel Advantageous?
Flex fuel vehicles, also known as dual-fuel vehicles, have engines designed to run on regular gasoline, or gasoline blended with methanol or ethanol. You can also have both fuels in the same engine.
Ethanol offers the advantage of burning cleaner than gasoline, allowing flex fuel vehicles to release fewer fumes into your environment.
By releasing fewer greenhouse gases, flex fuel is considered more eco-friendly.
Besides being more eco-friendly, ethanol is more sustainable compared to traditional gasoline fuel. It comes from ingredients, such as sugar and corn, which leave a smaller carbon footprint compared to fossil fuels. Countries can reduce their purchase of fuel from oil-rich countries.
Flex fuel vehicle owners enjoy tax concessions from the government. The various concessions and tax credits greatly reduce their tax burden at the end of the year.
The alternate fuel source will not affect the performance of your engine. In fact, when you use E85 fuel in your vehicle, you might end up with increased horsepower and torque.
These vehicles have advanced technologies that allow them to use all types of fuels efficiently.
The engine features electronic sensors that detect the fuel blend and re-adjust fuel injection accordingly.
Further, the vehicle will identify the most efficient and reliable engine fuel.
Today, flex fuel is cheaper than regular gas. The prices have been falling and when you factor in government incentives, you will be spending much less for flex fuel.
Which Vehicles Use Flex Fuels?
The demand for flex fuel vehicles is high, thanks to the increasing concessions and tax credits from governments around the world.
Automakers, such as Ford and Chevrolet have a host of models compatible with E85 fuel.
Some of the models that run on flexible fuel include:
• Ford Transit
• Chevrolet Explorer
• Chevrolet Impala
• Chevrolet Tahoe
All vehicles that run on flex fuel from GM come with a badge written “Flex Fuel Ethanol” and may also have a road or leaf emblem on them.
Besides the popular E85, there is also the E10 that has been growing in popularity.
There are so many vehicle models that are compatible with E10. Models compatible with this flex fuel sport a yellow fuel cap.
If you are not sure whether your car uses flex fuel, talk to the automaker, and they will direct you as needed.
What Happens If I Put Flex Fuel in a Regular Car?
You can use flex fuel in a regular car.
However, the fuel will cause reduced performance and the car might also show the “check engine light.”
E85 gasoline contains only 15 percent gasoline, which is what a regular car uses.
The rest 85 percent is ethanol, which a regular car is not engineered to use.
When you use such fuel in a vehicle that uses regular gas, you will not harm the engine, but your car will feel sluggish.
When you use flex fuel in a regular car, you will see a significant drop in gas mileage and your vehicle performance will also go down.
However, the issue will clear the next time you use regular unleaded fuel in your vehicle.
For flex vehicles, you only need to use a mix of regular gas and ethanol or regular gas and the vehicle is good to run.
However, these vehicles do not run on compost or Kool-Aid fuels.
Can Ethanol Harm My Vehicle’s Engine?
If you only use flex fuel in a regular car once, there will not be any damage to the engine.
However, you have to keep topping up with regular gas to lower the percentage of ethanol down to 10 percent.
If you accidentally put flex fuel in your regular vehicle, drive for about 60 miles and then top up the engine with about two gallons of regular gas.
If you have an older car model, using flex fuel and allowing it to sit in the engine for long can cause some harm.
Ethanol is corrosive and can affect parts of the fuel system made of aluminum, rubber, and magnesium.
If you do not replace some parts of the engine, you will end up ruining it in a short time.
Parts that need replacing include fuel hoses, gaskets, fuel pumps, fuel filters, seals, throttle bodies, and fuel injectors among others.
Instead of all the hassle, you should just run regular gas in regular cars.
Can I Mix Flex Fuel with Regular Fuel?
You can mix regular gas and flex fuel and have your car running just fine. However, there are no known benefits of mixing the two fuels.
There are no gains in horsepower or torque for the flex fuel vehicle.
If you have a flex fuel vehicle, go for E85.
For regular gas vehicles, use regular gas to avoid any effects on performance.
Flex fuel offers a low gas mileage compared to regular gas.
You can increase the mileage a bit by increasing the octane level of the gas, but the rise will not be significant.
You can always tell if you used the wrong fuel for your car.
Some of the symptoms that you have the wrong gas in your car include:
- Higher emissions
- Car stalling
- Pinging sounds from the engine
- Rough idling
- Difficulties in starting
- Check engine light comes on
- Reduced fuel economy
If you notice any of the above symptoms, stop using the fuel immediately.
This will help halt any problem that may have come up due to the wrong fuel.
You also need to avoid starting your vehicle and disconnect the battery.
A professional should help you empty the gas tank and flush the vehicle fuel lines to keep the wrong gas out.
Is flex fuel better than regular gas? There are so many advantages that you get with using flex fuel, but you cannot use it in all vehicles.
Again, unlike regular gas, flex fuel will give you reduced gas mileage.
The increase in government concessions and tax credits and the consequent increase in ethanol production have led to the popularity of flex fuels.
These flex fuels come as a more environmentally friendly alternative to regular fuel.
Should you switch to a flex fuel vehicle? The move is worth making as you will get advanced tech from flex vehicle engines, cost efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint, and you can even get better horsepower.
If you already use a flex vehicle but have no access to E85 or any other flex fuel, you can still use regular gas without worrying that it will damage your engine or lower performance.