E85 vs 87 Gas

As the world continues to drive car owners to ethanol-based fuel, we know that a lot of people continue to wonder how beneficial the E85 gas is. And with many claims and assumptions surrounding the E85 gas, you may have several questions on whether or not to use this fuel in your vehicle.

Wanna know the difference between E85 gas and 87 (regular gasoline)? You’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll compare E85 with 87 to help you understand the differences, and also inform you on which is the best option for your vehicle.

We’ll discuss what each fuel type is, their fuel economies, the impact on engine/maintenance, and the pros and cons of both the E85 and the 87 gas. We also tackle misconceptions, such as whether you can mix the two fuels. Read on!

E85 vs 87 gas pump

What is E85 Gas?

Also known as flex-fuel, E85 gas is a blend of gasoline and ethanol. It’s renewable energy designed for flex-fuel cars. E85 is the most popular gas for flex-fuel vehicles that comes with an internal combustion engine. Such vehicles can operate with different types of oil.

Flex-fuel vehicles have been around for many years as it was used in Ford Taurus in the early 1990s. Research conducted by the US Energy Information Administration reveals that pure ethanol contains a lower heating value than regular gasoline. It’s also an excellent option for increasing the vehicle’s performance and creating more torque, provided your vehicle can use more than one type of fuel.

e85 gas fuel station

What is 87 Gas?

87 Gas refers to the regular gasoline that many vehicles use, and it’s available in most fuel stations. It’s also known as regular unleaded gas (RUG). Regular gasoline is a by-product of gasoline and is highly flammable. The rating 87 refers to the number of octanes present in the fuel. The 87 gasoline usually has a lower ethanol level of about 10% compared to E85, which has up to 85% ethanol.

E85 vs 87

The main difference between E85 and 87 gas lies in their composition, whereby E85 has more ethanol than regular gasoline. Regular unleaded gas is blended with only 10% ethanol which gives it the standard 87 octanes.

On the other hand, E85 contains up to 85% ethanol which means it has a higher octane number than 87 gas. There is also a significant difference when it comes to fuel economy.

Fuel Economy: E85 vs 87

E85 has an octane rating of 105-113, which is higher than the octane rating of regular gasoline (87) or premium gasoline (91-93). This means that E85 can be used in higher-compression engines without knocking, which can potentially increase performance.

However, ethanol contains less energy per gallon than gasoline, so E85 will have lower fuel economy.

In comparison to E85, 87 gas offers better gas mileage than E85 since 87 gas provides more energy per gallon when used on vehicles designed to use regular gas.

Impact on Engine and Maintenance

The type of fuel you use, be it E85 or 87 gasoline, can influence your vehicle’s engine performance and maintenance requirements. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

Effects on Engine Performance

E85 fuel has a lower energy density compared to gasoline, implying less energy per volume unit. Consequently, vehicles powered by E85 may witness a dip in power and fuel efficiency, particularly in naturally aspirated engines.

However, E85 surpasses 87 gasoline in terms of octane rating. This higher rating can pave the way for increased power boosts in turbocharged or supercharged engines.

E85’s stability and lower combustion temperature can prove advantageous for high-performance uses, as it can accommodate higher power levels.

Maintenance Requirements

E85 is recognized for its superior flame spread and quicker ignition than regular gasoline. This can lead to cleaner combustion and potentially decreased carbon accumulation in the engine.

Yet, E85 is more corrosive than gasoline. It can harm specific fuel systems parts, like rubber seals and gaskets if the vehicle isn’t built to handle it. Thus, verifying vehicle compatibility with E85 before usage is crucial.

Moreover, vehicles operating on E85 may need more frequent fuel system upkeep, such as fuel filter replacements, to avoid potential problems caused by the fuel’s corrosive nature.

Vehicle Compatibility with E85 and 87 Gasoline

Understanding the distinction between E85 and 87 gasoline is crucial in determining which vehicles can utilize these fuels.

Flex-Fuel Vehicles

These vehicles are engineered to use a broad spectrum of fuel mixtures, including E85. They feature engines and fuel systems specifically constructed or altered to handle high ethanol blends. A sensor in flex-fuel vehicles identifies the ethanol content in the fuel and adjusts engine performance accordingly. To ascertain if a vehicle is a flex-fuel vehicle, you can:

  • Look at the fuel cap or fuel door: Badges or labels on these parts often indicate if the vehicle can use E85 or flex-fuel.
  • Refer to the owner’s manual: This manual should provide details about the vehicle’s compatibility with various fuel types.

Non-Flex-Fuel Vehicles

The majority of today’s vehicles aren’t flex-fuel vehicles and aren’t designed to operate on E85. Using E85 in a non-flex-fuel vehicle could result in subpar engine performance and possible damage to the engine and fuel system. Non-flex-fuel vehicles are typically designed to function on gasoline with a lower ethanol content, like 87 gasoline.

Pros and Cons of E85

Renewable Source: E85 is derived from renewable resources like corn, sugarcane, and other crops, making it environmentally sustainable in the long term.Lower Fuel Economy: Due to its lower energy content, E85 might result in decreased fuel economy compared to regular gasoline, leading to more frequent refueling.
Higher Octane Rating: With a higher octane rating compared to regular gasoline, E85 can enhance the performance of high-performance engines, resulting in better engine efficiency and power output.Limited Availability: E85 might not be as widely available as regular gasoline, making it challenging to find E85-compatible fueling stations in some regions.
Reduced Emissions: E85 emits fewer harmful pollutants than regular gasoline, contributing to improved air quality and reduced environmental impact.Vehicle Compatibility: Not all vehicles are compatible with E85, and using it in an incompatible vehicle can lead to performance issues or damage. It’s crucial to check the owner’s manual before using E85.
Domestic Production: E85 is domestically produced, reducing reliance on foreign oil and promoting energy security.
Reduced Fuel Cost: E85 is cheaper than regular gas as it’s sustainably produced in the US from ingredients like corn and sugarcane.

Pros and Cons of 87 Gasoline

Wide Availability: 87 gasoline is readily available at most gas stations, ensuring easy access for consumers in various locations.Higher Emissions: Compared to E85, 87 gasoline produces more emissions, contributing to air pollution and environmental concerns.
Vehicle Compatibility: The vast majority of vehicles can safely use 87 gasoline, making it a suitable choice for most drivers without concerns about compatibility.Lower Octane Rating: With a lower octane rating than E85, 87 gasoline may not provide optimal performance in high-performance engines, potentially leading to reduced efficiency and power output.
Non-Renewable Source: 87 gasoline is derived from non-renewable resources like crude oil, which can perpetuate dependence on foreign oil and finite fossil fuels.
Higher Cost: 87 gasoline is typically more expensive than E85, making it a less cost-effective option for budget-conscious consumers.

Ultimately, the choice between E85 and 87 gasoline depends on several factors, including the availability of E85 in your area, the compatibility of your vehicle with E85, and your priorities regarding cost, engine performance, and environmental impact.

Related: 91 vs 93 Gas

E85 vs 87: Which is the Better One to Use?

The best fuel to use between E85 and 87 will depend on the type of your car and your preferences. Other factors that should influence your choice include geographical conditions since E85 does give the best performance in wet and humid areas.

If you live in a warmer place and want more torque and increased performance, E85 is a great option. It will help you save a few bucks and improve your flex-fuel vehicle’s performance.

However, 87 will deliver a better performance and fuel economy when used on cold areas in vehicles optimized to run on regular gasoline. Overall, E85 is a better way to conserve the environment and save money for those operating flex-fuel vehicles. It’s made with infinite resources and gives fewer emissions to the environment.

Questions from Carowners:

Is E85 gas diesel?

E85 gas is not the same as diesel. E85 is a fuel blend primarily composed of ethanol and gasoline, usually containing between 51% to 83% ethanol. This type of fuel is predominantly used in Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs), which are engineered to operate on either gasoline or ethanol blends such as E85. 

Diesel fuel, conversely, is a distinct fuel type utilized in diesel engines. While both E85 and diesel are alternatives to regular gasoline, they are not identical nor can they be used interchangeably.

Can You Mix E85 with 87 Gas?

There is no harm in mixing E85 with 87 gas as your vehicle will freely adjust for up to 85% ethanol. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that mixing E85 and 87 isn’t beneficial in any way.

Should I Switch to E85?

Yes, you can switch to E85 if you want a better option for the environment. Its price per gallon is also lower than other types of fuels. However, it would help if you kept in mind that E85 comes with a few drawbacks as well.

E85 flex fuels are usually hygroscopic, which means reduced tank life and storage. So, it’s essential to consider a few factors before switching from 87, regular gasoline to E85, including the humidity level of where you live and your vehicle’s model.

Does E85 Get Better Gas Mileage Than Regular Gasoline?

No, E85 doesn’t get better mileage than regular gasoline since it contains less energy per gallon. A gallon of this flex fuel has about 27% less energy than a gallon of regular gasoline. The lower energy level in flex fuels results in a reduced fuel economy when using your car.

However, E85 contains a higher octane number than 87, which will increase your vehicle’s power and performance. That’s why it’s preferred for race cars. Its lower price also makes it a great deal.

The Future of E85 and 87 Gasoline

So what’s next in the future? Here are some of our thoughts and considerations…

E8587 Gasoline
Technological Progress
With ongoing advancements in technology, we may see improvements in the production and efficiency of ethanol, the primary constituent of E85. This could result in greater accessibility and affordability of E85 fuel.
Technological Progress
Advances in engine design and fuel additives can enhance the performance and efficiency of vehicles using 87 gasoline. This could result in improved fuel economy and decreased emissions, keeping 87 gasoline relevant in the future.
Legislative Changes
The future of E85 can be significantly shaped by governmental policies and regulations. If there’s a push towards renewable energy and lower carbon emissions, incentives or mandates might be introduced to encourage E85 usage as a greener alternative to regular gasoline.
Legislative Changes 
Laws pertaining to emission standards and fuel efficiency requirements can influence the future of 87 gasoline. Stricter emission regulations might spur a move towards alternative fuels, potentially impacting and lowering the demand for 87 gasoline.
Consumer Behavior
The demand for cleaner, more sustainable fuel options could steer the future of E85. A shift towards eco-friendly choices might lead more consumers to opt for E85, increasing its adoption and availability.
Consumer Behavior
Consumer preferences and actions are vital in determining the future of 87 gasoline. If the demand for vehicles running on traditional gasoline persists, the 87 gasoline market will likely remain steady. However, a significant shift towards electric vehicles or alternative fuels might lead to a decline in the demand for 87 gasoline.

Final Takeaways on E85 vs 87

The use of E85 fuel has increased rapidly over the years as many people are running to sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to get their cars running. Both 87 and E85 have their own advantages and drawbacks. So, the best oil for you will depend on your needs and the type of car you have. If you want to switch from regular gasoline to E85, you’ll need first to check the availability of this fuel in gas stations near you.