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I have a 2001 Ford Focus (EU/UK spec) and I'm planning a road trip to Europe. My research shows that they serve up something called E85 at their petrol pumps in addition to petrol and diesel.

I've heard of some more high performance cars being able to run on petrol or E85 but I'm not sure if this is relevant for lower performance standard passenger vehicles.

Can I use ethanol instead of petrol in my car?

Are there any additional factors I should be aware of?

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1 Answer 1

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If your car is capable of running e85, it would announce itself as a flexfuel (or e85 capable) vehicle (through badging or via salesperson). You don't want to run e85 if your vehicle is not ready for it, as it will eat through seals and other soft parts in your vehicle's fuel system. If your car is not set up to run it, don't run it.

So everyone knows, e85 fuel is made to contain 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline/petrol. Ethanol is an alcohol, which is produced through the fermentation of sugars and other bio-based renewable resources.

As for running e85, be aware that it does not contain as much energy per liter as regular gas/petrol, so your mileage will be decreased as well. As a rule of thumb, e85 is said to contain about 30% less energy than 100% gas/petrol (Wikipedia source). I don't know how it is in Europe, but e85 is cheaper per unit than regular gas/petrol here in the US and that really depends on where you are exactly, as some locations it is cheaper by far, while yet other locals it is nearly the same .... strange mixed up world we live in. My point there is, you may save a little money up front on the cost of the fuel, but ultimately if the cost difference is not that much, you may end up paying more per mile to travel.

You would need to run a VIN check to see if your vehicle is e85 capable. Considering the age of your vehicle, I would assume it was not specifically setup to run it though. Not knowing where you are from in Europe (or more accurately, where your car is from ... UK? EU?), I cannot really say for sure. Just know e85 capable cars really didn't start getting produced in quantity until a couple of years after yours.

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