Autousa logo

What Is a Flex-Fuel Vehicle?

see print-friendly version
What Is a Flex-Fuel Vehicle?

"A Flexible Fuel Vehicle or FFV is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel."
  Flex Fuel Vehicle

What Is a Flex-Fuel Vehicle?

You may have seen the sticker Flex Fuel on the back of new vehicles. But what does it mean? According to professionals, a Flexible Fuel Vehicle or FFV is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to run on more than one fuel, usually gasoline blended with either ethanol or methanol fuel. Both fuels are stored in the same common tank. Flex fuel vehicles are different than bi-fuel vehicles because with bi-fuel, there are two tanks, each that stores the separate type of fuel. Bi-fuel vehicles can run on compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas or hydrogen.

  Prices – Dealer Quotes
Make :
  Model :  
  Trim :  
  Prices – Dealer Quotes
  No Haggle, No Hassle Internet pricing
  Get Competing Price Quotes
  Competing price quotes help you with your purchase
  No credit card information required
  Your email is safe with us
  Submitting this form will NOT affect your credit rating
  Find the price in your area
Please enter your zipcode to get price quotes
from four local dealers :

Many ask whether their vehicle will burn ethanol or E85 fuel even though it isn't designated as a flex fuel vehicle. The answer is yes and no. All gasoline vehicles are able to operate on gasoline and ethanol blends of up to 10 percent. Most pumped gas sold in the United States has approximately that amount of ethanol to meet clean air or emissions regulations. These low percentage blends are not classified as alternative fuels. But to use E85 you must have the right engine. If your vehicle isn't a designated Flex Fuel vehicle, check with your manufacturer as many vehicles that were made as early as 2002 have the capability to burn E85 safely.

If your vehicle is not made for ethanol or is non-E85 ready, it could cause iron components in your vehicle to corrode. Ethanol can also negatively affect electric fuel pumps by increasing internal wear, cause improper spark generation and cause erroneous fuel quantity indications.

Is Ethanol more fuel-efficient? Not really. Studies have shown that using 100% ethanol fuel decreases fuel-economy by 15 to 30 percent over the use of 100% gasoline. On the flip side, the benefits of ethanol are that it reduces America's dependence upon foreign oil and reduces greenhouse emissions.

The cost of ethanol can vary, according to where you live. It can also be difficult to find, again, depending on what state you live in. If you are from the Midwest, where corn is grown in plenty, ethanol stations are everywhere and the price is lower than that of regular fuel. If you live outside of the Midwest, it can be more difficult to find and the price can be considerably higher. There are nearly two thousand filling stations in the US that sells E85 and there are websites that can help you find a station near you.

Another benefit of buying a vehicle that burns flex-fuel is the tax incentives offered by the Federal Government.

If E85 is of no interest to you, there is also B100 or biodiesel. Biodiesel is manufactured from numerous products including vegetable oil, animal fat, recycled restaurant grease and more. Biodiesel produces less air pollutants and is biodegradable. B100 is blended with petroleum diesel. Common blends include B2, B5, and B20 - the number next to the B indicates the percentage of biodiesel. B2 and B2 can be used in most vehicles that have diesel engines. Manufacturers do not recommend using blends greater than B5 as it can cause engine damage. Again, biodiesel has a lower fuel economy and is currently more expensive - meaning it is having the same problems as Ethanol.

Vehicles that run on natural gas are growing commercially in numbers. Natural gas is also better for the environment, producing 60 to 90% less smog pollutants and 30 to 40% less greenhouse gas emissions. So it is a greener fuel for environment It is also less expensive than gasoline. The downside is that it is hard to find and very few vehicles are made that use it.

The same goes with propane or LPG. Vehicles that run on LPG have not been commercially produced in the US since 2004. Some vehicles can be retrofitted to run on LPG. This gas is stored in high-pressure fuel tanks and again is difficult to find in filling stations, in contrast to gasoline and diesel.

There are pros and cons to almost every fuel. Do your research before buying your next vehicle and decide what it is you find most important.

Author Resources:

This article by Greg Chapman has been retrieved from

Find An AutoUSA Dealer
Enter your vehicle brand and zip code to find AutoUSA dealers in your area


New Car Reviews and Research
© 2014 AutoUSA Inc. All Rights Reserved
powered by izmo