Friday, May 16, 2008

Exhaust from E85

Anyone else running E85 in their vehicle notice an increase in the amount of exhaust your car produces? I was was watching the voluminous vapor roll out from behind my car as I was backing out of my parking spot this morning... interesting, to say the least.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Increasing E85 Percentage

I fueled up the Grand Prix GT with six gallons of regular and eight gallons of E85 today, and everything is running fantastic. Does anyone else notice the engine runs smoother using this mix? Is it the higher octane rating - maybe the 3800 runs better on performance fuels?

Or it's the calm before the storm: my engine is going to die, and my fiancée is going to be none-too-happy, hah.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Looking for Damage

My soon-to-be father-in-law gave me the business about running 50/50 E85/Regular in my 2004 Grand Prix GT. He said until I've seen the damage caused by pre-ignition, I shouldn't risk it in my vehicle.

That said, I respect the heck out of him - he used to be a huge gearhead back in the day before he became a family man. Used to tweak out engines, snowmobiles, whatever he could to make it faster, stronger, like the Million Dollar Man, only machines. He knows way more about engines than I could acquire in the rest of my lifespan... so, needless to say, I'm a little more wary about running E85 in my car now.

Have you or do you know someone who has seen engine damage caused by running E85 in a non-FFV vehicle? Not 'might-have-been-E85' damage, but real damage that is directly related to running E85? Pre-ignition can be a really bad thing for an engine, but does this happen with E85?

I've given plenty of room to dispute the naysayers by starting a list of cars that have run E85 without problems - but now I want to give the naysayers space to show me the damage caused by running E85 in non-FFVs that aren't tuned for it.

Show me what you got!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

E85 Price: Getting Gouged

In response to my post regarding E85 price fixing, one anonymous person shed more light on the price to produce and transfer E85, in order to better determine if gas stations are price gouging on E85.

Here is the new equation:
(Current Ethanol Price - $0.51 Blender Credit) X 0.85
+ (Current Unleaded Price X 0.15)
+ 0.184 Federal Tax
+ 0.20 Michigan Tax
+ 0.03 Estimated Freight Charge per Gallon
= Cost to Gas Station

Let's run these numbers with the current price of ethanol (05/06/2008):
[($2.45 - $0.51) X 0.85] + ($3.65 X 0.15) + $0.184 + $0.20 + $0.03 = $2.612 per gallon E85

Anything above $2.612 per gallon for E85 is profit for a Michigan gas station. Do you think Meijer and other gas stations are gouging for E85?

50/50 E85 Gas Mileage

Controversy abounds on the internet when one discusses the differences in gas mileage when running E85 versus regular unleaded 87. In an effort to cut through such controversies, I test them out on my car.

I've been filling up with 50/50 E85/Regular, and on my second tank of the mixed fuel, I got about 21 miles per gallon. My average for the 2004 Grand Prix GT on regular unleaded was 24 miles per gallon. (3 mpg difference /24 mpg original) x 100% = 12.5% lower mileage using the 50/50 E85/Regular blend.

This means a full tank of 50/50 E85/Regular will get me 294 miles, while a full tank (14 gallons)of unleaded gas will get me around 336 miles, a difference of 42 miles. Is that 42 miles worth handing my money over to US farmers and businesses rather than OPEC? Undoubtedly, yes.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Proprietary Sucks

Having read that switching to E85 has a tendency to clog your fuel filter after the first 600 or so miles, I decided to be smart and replace my filter before problems arose. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Advance Auto Parts doesn't sell a fuel filter for a 2004 Grand Prix GT at any of their stores.

Nor does anyone else.

The kind woman at Advance Auto informed me that GM decided to put the fuel filter inside (or on top of) the gas tank on all new models - so if the fuel filter has to be replaced, you have to bring it into the dealership and pay them exorbitant amounts of money to do so.

Real lame. Fortunately, someone at the E85 forums told me the fuel filter clogging usually occurs on older cars that have been running cheap unleaded for decades. We'll see...

Friday, May 2, 2008

E85 Price Fixing

Accorting to (, the Chicago Board of Trade price for a gallon of straight ethanol today is $1.965. To make E85, roughly one gallon of gasoline ($3.75 in my area) is mixed with seven gallons of ethanol. For some fuzzy math:

(1 gallon gasoline X $3.75 per gallon) + (7 gallons ethanol X $1.965 per gallon) = $17.505

This makes roughly eight gallons of E85, so then: ($17.505 / 8 gallons) = $2.188 per gallon

The current price of E85 at the local Meijer Station is $3.45 per gallon. Twenty cents in Michigan taxes are applied to each gallon, and nineteen cents of federal gas taxes are applied as well, so the gas station is getting roughly $3.06 per gallon of E85.

That is a $0.87 difference - does it really cost that much per gallon to manufacture and transport? Michigan is a midwest state, right? We do grow lots of corn here - and heck, we're right next to Indiana for crying out loud.

The question at hand is this: are gas station owners pegging the price of E85 to gasoline, making it just low enough to seem cheaper so that people will buy it? People aren't dumb - anyone who runs E85 knows that you don't get the same gas mileage, rather you end up with 10-30% less. You get the, "Wow honey, I have to fill up all the time running that E85 crap!"

Also, what does this do to the market for E85? If government subsidizes ethanol production and projects to make it cheaper, then the gas station owners are lining their pockets with the difference? In essence, it ends up being taxpayers lining the pockets of gas station owners.

If they are fixing the price just below unleaded, all they are doing is stifling demand for E85, essentially ruining a good opportunity for the market to make a change. If E85 isn't priced consistently 15-30% below regular gas, consumers know that running gas saves them more money in the long run (comes down to the almighty dollar), and they won't switch to E85.

I hope this isn't the case, and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Time will tell if E85 is around to stay...