Flex Fuel Vehicles

Flex Fuel Advantages and Disadvantages

So you’re wondering:

What is the hype with flex fuel vehicles?

Let’s start by chatting about what flex fuel really means, and then we’ll dive into the advantages and disadvantages.

A flexible-fuel or bi-fuel (commonly know and as a flex-fuel vehicle) is an alternative fuel vehicle with an internal combustion engine designed to efficiently run on more than one fuel. These fuels are usually gasoline blended with either methanol and gasoline or ethanol.

Except for a few engine and fuel system modifications – they are practically identical to gasoline-only models. By gasoline-only models – we mean vehicles that only use the typical octane levels of 86, 87, 89, and 93.

Flex Fuel Advantages

  • Environmentally Cleaner.

Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline. Because it is responsible for fewer toxic fumes – we believe that flex fuel vehicles can make a positive environmental impact. Ethanol does not contribute significantly to greenhouse gasses – which makes it a popular choice for those looking to lessen their carbon footprint, and one of the biggest flex fuel advantages.

  • Alternative to Foreign Oil.

The majority of flex fuel vehicles use ethanol, which is made from corn and sugar cane. This makes it a viable alternative to purchasing foreign oil, or dangerous and high-cost drilling.

  • Flex Fuel Tax Benefits.

When you drive a flex fuel vehicle, you receive a flex fuel tax credit which replaced the clean-fuel burning deduction. To learn more about alternative fuel tax programs in the state of Maryland, click here.

  • Burning Capabilities.

One of the greatest advantages of a flex fuel vehicle is that it’s designed to burn any proportion of mixture it has in its combustion chamber at any given time.


Flex Fuel Disadvantages

  • Made from Crops.

While we listed this as an advantage… it is also a disadvantage. As ethanol is made from corn – questions rise about its production and demand. Keep in mind that the corn used to create ethanol is different then the sweet corn we eat… But it could lead to higher prices for products like animal feed. Corn is a labor-intensive crop to cultivate – prone to drought and disease. So if the crop dries up, so does the ethanol source.

  • Ethanol Fuel Stations are Hard to Come By.

It is not as economical as gasoline and suppliers are not as numerous as those who supply regular gasoline. This obliviously may change as flex fuel vehicles become more popular, but the fact is that there are only a small percentage of stations nationwide that supply ethanol.

  • Engine Damage.

Unfortunately, because ethanol absorbs dirt so easily it can cause serious damage to its engine.


Final Thoughts

At this point in time, ethanol has moved out of the research phase… this means that it could become the first nationally implemented alternative fuel! Flex fuel vehicles will continue to be debated – but are you surprised after reading the above advantages and disadvantages?


Flex Fuel: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it true that I will get fewer miles per gallon with ethanol gasoline?

A: This is true. However, the cost savings from using ethanol should more than offset the loss in mileage.

Q: What if I’m low on gas in my flex fuel vehicle, but can’t find an ethanol station?

A: A flex fuel vehicle system allows you to use any combination of gasoline or ethanol: from 100% unleaded gasoline all the way up to 85% ethanol. So if you’re low on gas and out of luck in finding ethanol, simply fill up at a regular station.


Do you have more questions about flex fuel advantages and vehicles? Give the Jones Body Shop & Collision Center a call today at (443) 686-7155.

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