December 12, 2011

Can I flex fuel?

By Kim Clark, Ag Program Manager for the Nebraska Corn Board

As I began writing a blog about fuel prices at gas stations and how it affects flex fuel vehicle (FFV) owners, I decided that discussing FFVs is a more appropriate blog before talking about filling up your FFV at gas stations and the fuel price.

If you are one of the fortunate 117,000 flex fuel vehicle owners in Nebraska, you have a choice of the fuel you use in your vehicle. You can use any type of gasoline mixture from regular unleaded up to E85 (85 percent ethanol) and anything in between. Does this mean you have to stick to use the same type of fuel all the time? NO!!! That is why your vehicle is called flex fuel.

One time you can fill up with E85 and the next with E30 or E10, and your fuel tank doesn’t have to be empty, either. You have the flexibility to use whatever ethanol blended gasoline is available and fits your needs based on price and performance.

Not all gas stations in Nebraska offer E85 or other mid-level ethanol blends. In fact, only about 50 gas stations offer these higher ethanol blends. Visit our website, to find retail stations that offer higher ethanol blended fuels.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, I don’t know if I have a flex fuel vehicle. You are not alone. On average, 70 percent of motorists don’t know they drive a flex fuel vehicle.

There are several ways to determine if you have a flex fuel vehicle and can use fuel blends up to E85. First, check your owner’s manual. You can also check the gas cap on your vehicle. If you have a yellow gas cap or it reads “E85”, then it is a FFV you can use any combination of fuel from regular gasoline up to E85.

There may also be an emblem on your vehicle that says flex fuel. Some images of fuel caps and emblems that you may see on your vehicle are shown to the right.

Still don’t know if drive a FFV? Ask your mechanic.

What are the benefits of driving a flex fuel vehicle and fueling with ethanol blended fuels? There are several.

First of all, you are using a homegrown renewable fuel grown by 26,000 Nebraska corn farmers. Second, by using ethanol blended fuel, you are helping to create jobs, promote the Nebraska economy, and provide revenue in the state. You are also helping to reduce our countries dependency on foreign oil. Finally, you are reducing greenhouse gas emissions so you are saving the environment.

There are many benefits to using ethanol blended fuel, but there is also one downfall that needs to be discussed. I will save that for the next blog about gas station prices and using ethanol blended fuels.

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