With todays price at the pump, many are looking for ways to increase fuel mileage and save on daily driving. Most fuel available contains ethanol as an additive. The ethanol content is required to be posted at the pump and its important to know what you are buying. Newer cars and trucks built have no problems performing on fuels containing 10% ethanol but many of the older vehicles are suffering from this additive . As the norm, you will see non-ethanol fuel costing 8 to 10 cents per gallon more but this is not always a bad thing. The addition of ethanol will decrease the efficiency of your vehicle, thus causing a drop in fuel mileage. In many cases you may actually spend more while paying less at the pump. While there are fewer alternatives available, the non- ethanol fuel will pay dividends in the end. Look for "non-branded" stations, meaning privately owned stores that do not fly national brand signage. As by law these are the only ones allowed to carry non-ethanol fuel. Pay attention to the stickers on the pumps. Law also mandates if fuel has ethanol, it must be posted on the pump.
Ethanol-based fuel, or E85, is an increasingly common alternative fuel that more vehicles can use instead of gasoline. The E85 name comes from the ethanol content, which is 85 percent (the remaining 15 percent is gasoline). An E85-compatible vehicle can run on a full tank of the fuel, a full tank of gasoline or any mixture of the two. Ethanol is a domestically produced fuel derived from biomass. In the United States, that’s mostly corn today, but technologies are being developed that soon you may begin to see more E85 pumps at your local gas stations, your car can use it only if it was designed for it. A yellow gas cap indicates E85 compatibility and it’s very important to never fill up with ethanol if your car wasn’t designed for it. Ethanol delivers about 70 percent of the energy of an equivalent gallon of gasoline, so the miles per gallon performance when using E85 is a somewhat lower than with gas.
Keeping your vehicle tuned and serviced properly will help with maintain the best mileage. If you have previously been using fuel with an ethanol additive, it may be necessary to perform a fuel system service. Over the counter additives are good but do not do a thorough job of cleaning the complete system. Your service center will be glad to assist you in the proper way to clean your system based on type of vehicle you own. This will clean excess carbon and "gum" that builds up after extended use. Older vehicles, pre 2007 year models, we tend to see this build up causing a decrease in performance and mileage. Ethanol, being made from corn, creates a sticky residue inside the fuel system and this in turn will cause the engine to be less efficient if not service regularly.
In short, know your fuel, know your vehicle. This will assist you in saving on fuel cost in a time when we all need help anytime we can get it.