e85 vs gasoline

E85 vs. Gasoline – Which one should I choose?

In General by Magnus Sellén1 Comment

e85 vs gasolineCarbon emissions contribute to a rise in greenhouses. As gasoline prices rise many motorists are searching for alternative sources of fuel.

One of these has being ethanol. Internal combustion engines running on gasoline emit carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Ethanol, on the other hand, is clean energy, E85 consists of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Ethanol is produced through the fermentation of sugar cane, molasses or corn. It takes many acreages being put under corn production to produce sufficient ethanol to fuel all cars in the United States. Gasoline production has to be existence for many years but prices fluctuate due to a set of political policies. There moments there is a crisis in the Middle East that leads to gasoline shortages.

Many people have questioned the idea that ethanol helps in the reduction of greenhouse gases. But, close observation of how ethanol is produced shows that it takes lots of energy to produce a gallon of ethanol. Corn, which is used for the manufacture of ethanol, requires large acreage for its production.

Massive amount of ethanol is required to operate cars in America alone. This acreage actively competes with corn for food production. In the long term, there have been fears that ethanol production will lead to food shortages.

Gasoline vs E85 Comparison

There are a lot of differences between E85 vs Gasoline. Here you will find the biggest things to consider before choosing. My personal recommendation is to go with gasoline, caused by the more expensive repair costs of using E85 in a lot of cars. This includes failed fuel injectors, fuel pumps, etc.

Decreased mileage

The first thing you will notice with substituting E85 with gasoline is that you have reduced mileage. This is equivalent to 8 miles per gallon. The price difference between gasoline and ethanol is not much at around $0.50. This does not make sense to many motorists because they are getting less mileage at almost the same cost.

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In addition, there are not many ethanol fueling stations spread across the country as compared to gasoline where you have a fuel station after a couple of miles. Doing fewer miles with ethanol means you can find yourself stranded with no fuel alternative.

Breaking down ethanol

Another complaint to using ethanol is that does not break down easily. One of the byproducts of using ethanol is water. Water does not work well with engine components due to rust. One of the byproducts of E85 is rust flakes. This often clogs the fuel filter and reduce the efficiency of the rings and seals. Eventually, this will get damaged and you will spend more in repairs.

In addition, alcohol vapor with cause what we call a vapor lock in the carburetor. For small cars, ethanol diminishes the lifespan of the engine. It is believed that ethanol will start breaking down after three weeks in the engine. By this time it will have developed clumps which will start clogging the engine parts. Repairs are even more costly. However, this issue is not common with larger cars.

Gasoline price fluctuations

discounted e85The reason governments encourage ethanol use for cars is that it is not subject to political temperatures like gasoline. Gasoline is a limited resource and some of the largest oil producers are located in the Middle East. Anytime there is a rise in political instability in these countries gasoline production is unhindered and you have fuel shortages.

This leads to a spike in prices which eventually affect the country’s economy negatively. Ethanol production, on the other hand, requires putting lots of acreage under corn production. This directly competes with corn produced for personal consumption. Putting more acreage under production means purchasing more land. This is also expensive. Critics have also questioned the amount of energy used for ethanol production and its contribution to greenhouse emissions.

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Job opportunities

The ethanol production will lead to the creation of jobs in the sector. This will help improve the livelihoods of many people. Individuals can now produce ethanol and sell to manufacturers.

Alcohol does not freeze

in areas where winters are harsh, there is a benefit of using ethanol in the gas pipes. Alcohol has a low freezing point unlike gasoline making it ideal for use during extremely cold temperatures. Countries trying to introduce ethanol do not need to lay up transportation infrastructure because they can use the existing gasoline pipes.

Tax breaks

the Federal highway trust fund has been offering a tax break of $0.15 for the creation of a gallon of ethanol. But, there is no sufficient data to support the argument that more farmers are into ethanol production.

However, it is way cheaper to produce ethanol through sugar cane. Countries like Brazil due to having large acreage in sugar canes can produce ethanol more cheaply than in the US where corn is used. The tax break could be working in the negative because even though the subsidy is given to farmers it still requires more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol.

It is estimated that 328 gallons of ethanol fuel are produced from one acre of land. All the acreage under ethanol production can only sustain cars using it for only 70 days.


Ethanol is a great alternative fuel. As the prices of gasoline fluctuate consumers are looking for alternatives to fuel their fuel-thirsty vehicles. However, the production of ethanol is filled with many challenges.

Firstly, you need to put a lot of acres under corn production to fulfill the countries demand the substance. This puts ethanol production in direct conflict with corn for personal consumption. The land is also expensive and there is not a large incentive to have farmers produce ethanol. The other downside to use of ethanol is that it produces water as a byproduct in engines.

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Water reacts with metal components in engines to produce rust. Rust contaminates the air filters and this causes further engine problems. There are many arguments to suggest that ethanol use is cheaper to gasoline but research has shown that it is $0.50 cheaper in the US. However, it offers less mileage at a rate of 8 miles per gallon.

This means a car running on E85 as opposed to gasoline will need more refueling. With few ethanol refilling stations, the motorist can be stuck during long distance travels. To make ethanol widely used there is need to find a way to reduce the energy cost in its production.

Hello I'm Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I'm specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I'm here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.

  1. I read your article on ethanol fuel. How realistic are these figures on 2019. Now we have ethanol stations on every corner. Has ethanol fuel been refined to where mileage and cost are better than reported in your original article?
    I’m very curious as to how consumers and vehicles are dealing with ethanol fuel.

  2. Due to a very high demand and high ammount of comments, you have to wait for some time for your car questions to get answered. If you want to get fast answers from a certified master technician you can ask your questions here:
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