Suggestions To Prepare For
Installation & FAQ's
is imperative to verify the type of injector
your vehicle has.
Will this affect my auto warranty? Read
what the FTC has to say about
the federal warranty Law:
FFI is the only conversion upgrade company
that not only offers a 5 year limited
warranty on our product, but offers a
comprehensive fuel system warranty for the
useful life of your vehicle as described by
the government. (100,000 miles), that it was
originally installed on.
engine have to be in perfect condition?
My vehicle has a lot of
miles on it; is it too worn out?
A successful ethanol conversion
should start with a car that has been properly maintained and is in
good working order. High mileage is generally not a barrier so
long as the car runs well. We have customers who have
converted high mileage cars with well over 200K miles and their
vehicle runs great on ethanol. But if your car is burning a
lot of oil, has poor compression, runs poorly or is hard to start,
those issues need to be addressed before attempting conversion.
have an older car with high mileage.
It runs well, but what things should I check
to make sure they are OK?
Rubber – If your vehicle is
old enough, it may have rubber components in the fuel system.
We have found that if your vehicle was manufactured after 1990, it
is probably free of rubber in the fuel system. If you are
converting an older vehicle, you will likely need to replace the
fuel line and the fuel pump with modern components. If your
vehicle is newer than 1990 and it looks like it has a rubber fuel
line, it is most likely made from neoprene. Neoprene looks
like rubber but it is not reactive to ethanol and is fine.
Fuel Pump – The fuel pump
needs to be delivering adequate pressure and flow. Stock OEM
fuel pumps generally deliver plenty of fuel for your engine even
with it running E85. If your vehicle can currently run well at
full throttle, your fuel pump is probably in fine condition and will
probably not need replacing.
Fuel Filter – Gasoline
contains olefins and waxy paraffin like compounds. Fuel
vendors add detergents to try and keep these in suspension but there
is a tendency for them to deposit onto the surfaces of your fuel
system. Over time, the inside of your fuel tank can become
lined with a mixture of these compounds. Ethanol is very good
at mobilizing these deposits and a few tanks of E85 will do a good
job of cleaning them from your fuel system. They burn well,
especially when mixed with ethanol, and will not harm your vehicle
to be removed from your fuel system in this manner. The
trouble is that these waxy compounds may also have been securing
sediments to the bottom of your fuel tank. When these
sediments are no longer secured, they will find themselves picked up
by the fuel pump and into the fuel filter where they will start to
obstruct the flow of fuel. This problem is most common when
budget fuels have been used over a long period of time but most fuel
filters are relatively easy to change. If you think you are a
likely candidate for this issue, we recommend using your first few
tanks and then changing the fuel filter as a preventative
maintenance item rather than experiencing a problem when you are in
a remote area.
Oxygen Sensors – Your vehicle
will have one or more oxygen sensors. The oxygen sensors
enable your vehicle's computer to properly trim the fuel. The
ability to adjust the fuel trim is standard on all modern fuel
injected engines and it is crucial that this system be working
properly. If your car is running well on gasoline, your oxygen
sensors are probably OK. Occasionally we have seen some older
sensors get soft with age and use. If, after conversion, your
engine runs well on mixtures up to about 50% ethanol but you are
having difficulty with higher concentrations of ethanol, the problem
may be due to oxygen sensors that are not responding as they should.
If you suspect you may be having this trouble, you can check the
electrical response of the sensor. While it is usually not
necessary to do so, oxygen sensors are easily replaced should you
experience this issue.
of converter do I need?
This will depend upon the type of
fuel injection system you vehicle uses and the number of injectors
it has. The following are descriptions of each of these types.
The one that matches your vehicle will determine the model of
conversion system you will need. If you have questions, please
contact our technical support for assistance.
Standard 12V Multi Port –
Most vehicles fall into this situation. Locate the injectors
and examine the connectors. You may need to remove one from
the injector to make a match as the outer appearance will vary.
The important consideration is the configuration of the mating
parts. If you are having trouble determining a match, send us
a digital photo of the mating end of your connectors and we will
help with the identification. It is also important to verify
the polarity of your car's injector wiring. Each connector has
a relatively standard way that it is wired but some vehicles have it
the opposite direction. The easiest way to do this is to
examine the color code of the injector wires going to several of
your car's cylinders. There will be a pair of wires going to
each cylinder's injector and one wire from each set will usually
have the same color code. This will be the positive wire.
If you cannot find a color code in common, you will need to use a
volt meter on the wires. The injection system can usually be
energized by turning the key to the on position. One of these
wires will show a +12V potential over the chassis or negative
battery terminal. Note which side the positive wire is on when
looking at the face of the female connector as shown in the
need our 4,6 or 8 cylinder model with the appropriate injector
Throttle Body – This is often
found on GM V-8 engines from 19XX to 19XX. There will be a
device that looks a lot like a carburetor with two injectors sitting
over an intake manifold on the top of the engine. This is an
hardwire installation but it is also one of the easiest
installations to perform. You will need our
GM Vortec – These injectors
are buried inside the engine but electrically they respond as usual
and the standard conversion applies by using a hardwire
installation. You will need our 6 or 8 cylinder
Buried injectors – late model
V-6 engines will usually have the injectors buried under the air
plenum. Some plenums are easy to remove and some are much
trickier. If you have a complicated air plenum removal
situation, you may wish to opt for the hardwire installation as the
injector wires are generally easy to access.
Mono Point Injection – There
are a few vehicles that have an arrangement similar to the throttle
body injection system except that they have one injector instead of
two. Examples include: GEO metro, 1995 and earlier 4.3 liter
GM engines. You will need our
4V injection – We have
discovered that a few injection systems on European models use 4
volts instead of the usual 12. We have only encountered this
system on some Volvo and Audi models but are unsure if there are any
others that also use 4 volt injectors. We are investigating a
solution for this but our 12 volt converters will not work on these
injection systems. If you have a 4 volt injection system and
would like to be notified when we have a solution for you, please
E-mail us at:
Do I need
to run special oil, or change it more
You should always use a grade of oil
that meets or exceeds the engine manufacturers recommendations.
There is nothing about the nature of E85 that would normally require
special oils or to change them more frequently. If your
driving habits are hard on oil, then you should use a high grade oil
and/or change it more frequently.
One of the things that can cause oil
to require changing is a buildup of contaminants. The oil
filter should always be changed at every oil change and that will
help to keep particulate contaminants out of the oil but chemical
contaminants will still accumulate. These contaminants come
from the blow-by. During the power stroke, hot combustion
gases will leak past the rings and valve seals. These gases
are allowed to escape the crankcase through the PCV system but the
oil will trap many of the chemicals that are present in these gases.
For example, sulfur in the fuel will form sulfur oxides. These
will gradually build up in the engine oil. When an engine is
first started and not yet warm, water vapor from the combustion will
also enter the crankcase and condense on the cold surfaces.
The sulfur oxides combine with the water to form sulfuric acid.
The ethanol part of E85 has NO sulfur or any other elements that
would form harmful oil contaminants, so using E85 should reduce the
rate oil becomes contaminated with such things.
Grit from the intake air can also
enter your crankcase with the blow-by. Your choice of fuel
will not change the amount of grit that is in the intake air.
You should change your air filter when recommended or more
frequently if you operate in dusty dirty conditions.
Oil dilution is rare, but can occur
if an engine is running excessively rich. If your engine is in
good working order, this will not be a problem whether you are using
gasoline or E85. Vehicles from 1996 will have level 2 on board
diagnostics that will detect a rich condition and alert you with a
check engine light.
Oil can breakdown due to heat and
pressure between bearings. Converting a vehicle to E85 can
significantly increase its performance potential. If you make
a habit of using this extra performance, you are placing your engine
into a situation which will more quickly cause the engine oil to
loose its lubrication. Note that this does not require street
racing. If you find that your SUV is able to pull your boat up
the mountain pass 10 MPH faster than before, you are spending an
extended period of time with your engine at or near full-throttle.
This is hard on ordinary oils and if you read most owner's manuals,
the manufacturer would classify towing as hard service and recommend
more frequent oil changes.
What do we use in the FFI Hummers?
These vehicles are using a full synthetic oil.
First, the increase in
fuel efficiency will often pay for the
difference in the cost of the oil.
Second, we want our
vehicles to stay in top shape and last a
Third, while we don't
drive like maniacs, we do pull trailers and
use these vehicle's off-road capabilities
and want an oil that will keep the engines
lubricated properly. We think it is a
that E85 will harm my engine. Is this
A definitive answer is, “it
depends”. The 1973 oil embargo caused fuel shortages and
prices rose dramatically. This spurred America to find both
alternatives to gasoline and ways to extend the fuel supply.
One thing that was noticed was that an engine could burn a mixture
of alcohol and gasoline and the resulting product was called
gasohol. There were a few problems that were encountered.
First, the alcohol that was typically used was wood alcohol or
methanol. Methanol is much more corrosive to many common
materials than is ethanol and unfortunately most of the vehicles
that were on the road in the 1970s were not designed to have alcohol
in the fuel.
As a result, gasohol had a short
duration on the market but congress was determined to reduce
America's dependence upon foreign oil. Tax incentives for the
production of ethanol were established and there were several
executive orders to use gasohol in the vehicles that could safely
utilize it. In 1982, another fuel shortage occurred and it was
obvious that alcohol blended fuels were coming. The
manufacturers changed the engineering of the vehicles to be more
chemically compatible with the presence of alcohol in the fuel.
Ethanol is a much better alcohol to
use for fuel than methanol. For most materials, it is less
corrosive, it has considerably more energy, and is also far less
toxic. For several years, it has been common to blend ethanol
into the gasoline supply. E10, a mixture of 10% ethanol and
90% gasoline is available at many vendors. Blending a couple
of percentage points of ethanol into the gasoline is not only common
practice, but in many areas it is being required.
What we have found is that if your
vehicle was manufactured in 1990 or later, the fuel system and
engine were most likely made with materials that are not
sufficiently reactive to ethanol to be a problem using E85. If
you have an older vehicle, you will need to investigate whether or
not the fuel system can use ethanol. The most common material
that was a problem is rubber. If you use E85 in a vehicle with
rubber fuel system components, they will deteriorate fairly quickly
and fail. This could cause fuel leaks and result in a
significant risk of fire. If in doubt, older vehicles
should have their fuel lines and fuel pumps replaced. Most
auto parts stores should be able to supply you with the parts
necessary to make this change.
Do I have to
change my injectors?
We have found that the stock OEM
injectors on late-model engines work fine with E85. Unless you
are building a race car and need a high performance injector, the
ones your engine already has should be OK. Ethanol is also an
excellent cleaner and works to keep the injectors, fuel rails, and
valves free of deposits, so you also do not have to have your
injectors cleaned. The ethanol will do that for you.
Do I need to
change my oxygen sensors:
If your engine is running fine on
gasoline, your oxygen sensors are probably working well and you
should not have to change them. Sometimes these sensors can be
degraded through age and use and will not respond as well as they
should. In this unlikely event, your engine's computer will
have difficulty making proper fuel trim adjustments. If you
convert to E85 and find that your engine runs fine with ethanol
mixtures up to about 50% but has difficulty with 85%, the problem
may be due to soft O2 sensors. A mechanic can diagnose whether
this is the cause by examining the electrical response of the
sensors. If an O2 sensor is found to not be responding as it
should, they are easy to replace.
Are there any
other sensors that need to be added or replaced?
All of the sensors that your vehicle
was equipped with need to be in good operating order if your engine
is to perform as it should. Some factory flex-fuel vehicles
added an alcohol sensor to allow the computer to determine the
alcohol content of the fuel but that practice was discontinued by
all of the manufacturers of factory flex-fuel vehicles. Our
conversion system does not require you to add any sensors. All
computer controlled fuel injection systems monitor the oxygen
sensors to determine if the proper fuel to air mixture has been
achieved and will adjust the fuel trim to achieve the proper ratio.
This allows the engine to adapt to varying fuel grades and prevents
the engine knocking that was so common with the carburetor based
systems. Our converter extends your engine's built in ability
to trim fuel. By extending this fuel trim range, our converter
allows most vehicles to use any mixture of gasoline and ethanol
without requiring any manual intervention.
What is the
octane rating of E85?
There are, of course, several
variables such as the exact mixture of ethanol in the gasoline and
the grade of gasoline used but E85 should result in an effective
octane of approximately 105. It is very resistant to
predetonation (knocking) and works very well in high compression
How much will
my MPG be affected?
There are a lot of variables here.
Ethanol has less chemical energy per gallon than gasoline. It
burns more efficiently however, so while you will get fewer miles
per gallon, you will get more miles per BTU. The increase in
the burn efficiency will partially offset the difference in the
energy levels of the two fuels.
Driving habits have a large impact
on fuel economy. Running on E85 generally results in a
noticeable increase in performance. If you make a habit of
using the extra performance, you should not expect it to have a
positive effect on your MPG.
This is definitely one of those
“results will vary” situations. Our customers have reported
MPG differences generally ranging from 5% to 20% lower for E85 than
when running on gasoline. Other than driving habit changes,
the most common factor seems to be that the higher the engine's
compression ratio, the less the mileage loss. We have
customers who claim their Toyota Prius will get essentially the same
mileage on E85 as it did on gasoline.
If you are driving conservatively in
an average car, you will probably see a 15 to 20 percent loss in
mileage. If you are on the high end of the MPG loss of
approximately 20%, then to achieve the same cost per mile, you
should look for a 20% price differential between gasoline and E85.
If the regular grade of gasoline is selling for 3.00 per gallon, you
need a 60 cent differential in price and would look for E85 selling
for 2.40 or less. In areas where E85 is readily available,
there is often more than a 60 cent difference in the pump price.
Due to the high octane rating of E85
(approximately 105), it is an excellent alternative to buying
premium for high performance engines. Premium is often 20
cents or more above the price of regular. If your engine needs
premium, converting to E85 will be an even more attractive option.
Can I use
In the US, the answer is no unless
you want to pay the beverage tax. The highest concentration of
ethanol that the US allows in fuel grade ethanol is 98%. The
other 2% is gasoline, thus rendering it unfit for drinking but
doesn't really change it's combustion characteristics. In
2007, the Indy 500 used this fuel. It has an octane of 120 and
the performance you can achieve is phenomenal, especially in high
compression, turbo, or supercharged engines.
It is difficult to find E98 for
retail sale but is the concentration that will be loaded onto trucks
when the ethanol leaves the production facility. If you don't
want to brew and distill your own fuel, you will need to talk to an
ethanol distributor or blender to obtain E98. If you are
running a race car and are paying for 105 octane gasoline, you will
want to take a serious look at converting to E98. With this
high an ethanol content in your fuel, you will want to adjust your
converter to a higher setting, probably in the 8 to 10 range.
This will enable easier starting and maximum power.
For the average individual running
an ordinary vehicle, the performance difference between E85 and E98
is probably not worth the trouble but with our conversion box, you
can do so if you wish. We have tested E98 in both of our
Hummers and in a 2003 Dodge Dakota with a 4.7 liter V8. The
power increase is remarkable but remember, you didn't upgrade your
transmission... Driving hard is hard on the equipment.
that it can be hard to start your vehicle on
E85 in cold weather.
Some vehicles have more trouble with
this than others but in general, it is true, even of factory flex
fuel vehicles. Most of the reason has to due with the nature
of the fuel. It is harder to start a cold engine on ethanol.
The higher the percentage of ethanol, the sooner this will become an
issue. One of the reasons you won't normally see a blend of
ethanol beyond 85 percent is that the 15% of gasoline helps with
engine starting. Most E85 vendors in colder climates will down
blend the product during the winter to approximately 70% content.
In fact, if you read the fine print on some of the pumps, it will
say, “Contains a minimum of 70% ethanol.” This is a good thing
since at 70% ethanol, cold starting issues generally disappear.
Fuel Trim – having the
correct fuel mixture when starting is a big advantage. Many of
the newer vehicles will remember the trim they were using when last
shut off. If you have a vehicle that remembers its fuel trim,
you will have fewer cold start issues. If your vehicle does
not remember its trim, it must make some average assumptions, start
the vehicle, and wait for the oxygen sensors to reach approximately
600 degrees before it can adjust the fuel trim. Our CFO's 2003
Dakota is like this and will trim its fuel in approximately 45
seconds from a 60 degree (F) start.
Converter adjustment – To
have the ability to run either fuel without opening the hood and
making adjustments, we ship the converter adjusted to 6 (see
adjusting the converter). This setting works well for most
vehicles and allows the vehicle's fuel trim system to trim lean
enough to run with gasoline and to trim rich enough to run E85, just
by watching the oxygen sensors. Since E85 is not always
available, it is important to be able to do this. If you
always run E85 and are having some cold start issues, you can adjust
the setting inside the converter to a higher (richer) setting.
If you set it on 10, cold start problems will probably disappear but
you will also probably get a check-engine light with a rich
condition if you should run gasoline. If this happens, it will
not harm your engine. Simply readjust to a lower setting.
Once the rich condition is corrected, the check-engine condition
should clear on its own.
Why is an
engine harder to start on ethanol?
Vapor Pressure – The first
difference in these fuels is that ethanol has a lower vapor pressure
than gasoline. This means that while the cylinder head is
below the boiling point of ethanol, gasoline will more readily
vaporize. Since there is very little time from when the
injector squirts the fuel to when the spark plug will attempt to
ignite it, this can make for significantly less of the ethanol to
have turned into a vapor than would have happened for the same
amount of gasoline. Liquid fuels do not burn. To
compensate for this, all engines will add extra fuel when starting
as it is the fuel to air mixture OF THE VAPOR that matters.
Carbon-Carbon Double Bonds –
Gasoline ignites more easily than ethanol. There are
fundamental differences in the physical chemistry of these fuels.
In order to start and then maintain a combustion chain reaction, you
must have fuel as a vapor well mixed with oxygen and have sufficient
kinetic energy (heat) in the molecules to destroy the existing
molecular bonds in the fuel and reform bonds with the oxygen.
Double bonds are easy places for an oxidizer to attack a fuel
molecule. Because the double bond is easy to attack, it lowers
the energy required to break the first bond when a fuel contains a
double bond. Additionally, when conditions for combustion are
marginal, the presence of double bonds in the fuel will enable
combustion when it would otherwise not occur.
Gasoline – Gasoline is mostly
a mixture of various alkylates, all of which contain a double bond.
This prevalence of double bonds in the molecules of gasoline results
in a low flash point. It is easy to ignite and is not very
picky about the fuel-to-air mixture in order to maintain combustion.
Of course clean combustion requires a correct mixture, but to have
combustion at all (and get the engine started) you need only be
Ethanol, C2H5OH, has no double bonds whatsoever. There is no
easy attack point. For an oxygen to steal away any part of
this fuel, it has to have significant energy or it will fail to
break any of these bonds. Because of this, in order to have
combustion, the conditions for must be closer to ideal than for
gasoline with its abundant double bonds. Even with 15%
gasoline, E85 has a much lower concentration of double bonds and is
therefore harder to ignite. Increasing gasoline content to 30%
provides an adequate concentration of double bonds to assist in
sustaining combustion when conditions are poor. This is why you
will often see a 70% blend during cold winter months.
2008Gary Ackaret FFI - All Rights Reserved
Understanding Air/Fuel ratios
This article assumes you already understand
the concept of the air/fuel ratio (AFR).
You may have already read that E85 has a different
stoichometric air fuel ratio than gasoline's 14.7. The stoich AFR
for E85 (at 85% Ethanol) is 9.76. The stoich value represents an
ideal perfect burn of the fuel usually used at part throttle
conditions. Full throttle conditions require a richer mixture than
stoich to prevent the dreaded detonation, or pinging.
However most AFR gauges you can purchase to display a numerical
value of the AFR, are showing you values for gasoline. This is where
it can get tricky, and it's important to understand how this ratio
works on both gasoline and ethanol-based fuel.
All AFR's regardless of fuel type work off of a common number called
Lambda. A value of 1.0 in Lambda represents the stoich for any fuel.
Gasoline is Lambda 1.0 at stoich. E85 is Lambda 1.0 at stoich.
If you already have a standard gasoline AFR meter hooked to a
wideband O2 sensor, you can still use the displayed gasoline AFRs in
determining your engine's true AFR. For example, if your gasoline
meter is showing 14.7, then we know this is Lamda of 1.0. The
equivalent on the E85 side is around 9.7. Therefore you can conclude
that the 14.7 you see on the gauge is a true AFR of 9.7. This allows
you to effectively use existing gasoline AFR components or software
to tune an E85 Mustang without buying special equipment. Simply use
the same target AFRs on your gasoline gauge that you normally
targeted for gasoline.
For a late model modular Ford engine, we can tell you that it
requires about 20% more fuel at part throttle, and about 40% more
fuel at wide open throttle (WOT) so ensure you have adequate fuel
flow to the cylinder before you begin. This is where the experience
of a professional tuner becomes important to understand just how
much fuel to add and when, to make the perfect fuel curve.
In addition to fuel changes, there are also other parameters that
can be altered, such as ignition timing advance to take advantage of
the 105 octane rating of E85. The ethanol is slower to ignite, and
more timing can be added at max power without the worries of
detonation but not necessary. Some of the test cars see about 21
degrees of timing at 6500 rpm on a stock engine. That simply isn't
capable with 93 octane gasoline. The benefit is a modest 5-10%
increase in horsepower. It is a comparable result to high octane
race fuel, without the need to charge your buddies $10 a ride to pay
for your fuel needs!