What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10?

1.8-liter VVTL-i (2ZZ-GE) and VVT-i (1ZZ-FE) engine, transmission, exhaust, intake, and performance tuning discussions

What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10?

Postby ned23 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 6:17 am

The 2009 owners manual does not say how much Ethanol vibes can use in the gas. It just says not to use Methanol. It does not specifically say whether or not they can use E-85. My salesperson seemed confused and when I asked her about E-85 she said "yes, I think so" but I did not see it listed on the gas cap or anywhere else and since this would be a huge bragging right, I assume it's not Flex Fuel.

Canada sells E-30 in the winter, and it's my understanding from my brother in-law who's an engine designer in Detroit that the current engine models are all tested to 30% ethanol.

So, 1/4 tank of E-85 + 3/4 Tank of E-10 if I do my algebra mixture problem right would be 28.75% EtOH.

(GM's customer service line in New Dehli did not know the answer to this question).

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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (ned23)

Postby ColonelPanic » Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:23 am

That's funny that GM's helpless desk can't even tell you. Probably the Toyota parts throwing them off. Which I don't think Toyota makes a single engine capable of running off of E85.

E10 is probably as much as you'd want to run in that thing.

Right now, E85 is $1.98 a gallon and regular 87 octane is $1.68, so ethanol has lost its cost effectiveness here for the moment. E85 was much, much cheaper than regular gas when the regular stuff was in the $4 range.

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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (ColonelPanic)

Postby jake75 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:32 pm

When adjusting for the lower energy content of E-85 (and thus lower mpg) I don't think E-85 was ever any real bargain. It probably was bought by the same people who pay $5 a gallon for "organic" milk.
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2003 Vibe 1.8L Neptune AT Mono Power Pkg 1/27/03 [sold 2/2/09]
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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (jake75)

Postby Raven » Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:09 pm

I'll ask my brother. He's a retired technical director of the alternate fuels program at GM Canada.
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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (jake75)

Postby ned23 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:32 pm

Quote, originally posted by jake75 »
When adjusting for the lower energy content of E-85 (and thus lower mpg) I don't think E-85 was ever any real bargain. It probably was bought by the same people who pay $5 a gallon for "organic" milk.

Well, it's not as simple as that. For one, this is a corn state and E-85 is subsidized. When gasoline was $4.19 here, E-85 was like $3.29. Now that's a savings, regardless of a few mpg lost.

Second, if you actually build an engine from scratch to burn E-85, you can design it to run at a much higher efficency level. You'll burn the fuel more efficiently, which can, in theory, more than compensate from the loss in inerent energy,

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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (ned23)

Postby Raven » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:35 pm

Here's his reply:
All recent GM and other cars are of course designed to handle up to E10, except for the 'flex fuel' ones, which used to have a fuel sensor to determine mix, but now just look at the short term 'learning' values after a fill-up to see if the mixture has gone leaner or richer since before the fill, then figure out the new values required. In other words, just an exaggerated version of the normal learning process from the O2 sensor readings.

Bottom line, chances are the system could adjust enough to compensate for the added fuel flow required by a 30% mix. Also, ethanol isn't too bad re corrosion, so fuel system components should be OK, however mileage would be down noticeably and emissions, though different, aren't really any better. The slightly higher octane rating would also have no benefit in this case. Furthermore, from a "well to wheels" CO2 standpoint, corn based ethanol is much worse than gasoline. Unless it's priced at least 40% lower, there's really no good reason to run ethanol until they start making it efficiently from bio-waste
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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (jake75)

Postby ClunkClunk » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:37 pm

Quote, originally posted by jake75 »
It probably was bought by the same people who pay $5 a gallon for "organic" milk.

Hey, at least organic milk tastes better (imho).

I can't tell the difference in taste between ethanol and gasoline when it's coming directly out of the pump. Plus I get weird looks from everyone at the gas station.


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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (SLORegal)

Postby ned23 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 10:54 pm


Yeah but you sure get a lot less fumes when you stand at the E-85 pump! Reduces your chance of leukemia and other nasties.

(don't tell anyone but I've been running lots of E-85 through my 1996 Tracker for the last 5 years as an experiment. It's still running fine)

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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (Raven)

Postby ned23 » Wed Dec 03, 2008 4:04 am

Quote, originally posted by Raven »
Here's his reply:
All recent GM and other cars are of course designed to handle up to E10, except for the 'flex fuel' ones, which used to have a fuel sensor to determine mix, but now just look at the short term 'learning' values after a fill-up to see if the mixture has gone leaner or richer since before the fill, then figure out the new values required. In other words, just an exaggerated version of the normal learning process from the O2 sensor readings.

Bottom line, chances are the system could adjust enough to compensate for the added fuel flow required by a 30% mix. Also, ethanol isn't too bad re corrosion, so fuel system components should be OK, however mileage would be down noticeably and emissions, though different, aren't really any better. The slightly higher octane rating would also have no benefit in this case. Furthermore, from a "well to wheels" CO2 standpoint, corn based ethanol is much worse than gasoline. Unless it's priced at least 40% lower, there's really no good reason to run ethanol until they start making it efficiently from bio-waste

Cool, thanks very much. So, why doesn't the manual just say that?

I'll probably stick with regular E-10, but it also sounds like he confirms my in-laws story that engines are designed to deal with up to 30% ethanol as the extreme case.

The story with my '96 tracker is that I've been putting E-85 in it for abotu 5 years. Sometimes as much as 2/3 of a tank with regular. I also add Lucas Fuel treatment that I buy by the gallon from a truck stop. I was having lots of trouble with the fuel rail needing cleaned but it's been okay for the last couple of years. Yes, the mileage droped about 15-20%.

As for emissions, it's a common rumor in E-check counties here that if you want your car to pass e-check (tailpipe test) that you should fill it up with 1/2 a tank of E-85 and drive it on the freeway for an hour before you bring it in.

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Re: What's the maximum ethanol content vibes can use? E-30 or E-10? (SLORegal)

Postby jake75 » Wed Dec 03, 2008 10:41 pm

Quote, originally posted by SLORegal »

Hey, at least organic milk tastes better (imho).

I can't tell the difference in taste between ethanol and gasoline when it's coming directly out of the pump. Plus I get weird looks from everyone at the gas station.

Just what I'd expect from the land of nuts and berries .

A blind taste test with about 50 people would be interesting.
1. Organic milk ($5) vs. regular milk. ($3)
2. Miller Lite ($9.50/12) vs. Old Milwaukee Light ($6/12)

2009 Vibe 1.8L Carbon Gray AT Power Pkg 1/12/09
2003 Vibe 1.8L Neptune AT Mono Power Pkg 1/27/03 [sold 2/2/09]
2007 T&C SWB 7/31/07
Aristotle - “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
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