Mechanics

QUESTION ABOUT E85 FUEL

2004 Chrysler Sebring • 86,084 miles

I read in my manual that my car can burn e85 fuel, the engine is a 2.7l 24 dohc, after I put gas in I got codes po171, po174, po441, what do I do now?
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Davidfarr3000
September 26, 2011.



Not all models can use E85. It's listed in the owner's manual for those cars that are "flex fuel" vehicles. Yours probably isn't unless you see some kind of sticker by the fuel cap. The alcohol in E85 has extra oxygen in it, and two of your fault codes are related to both sides of the engine running too lean. The two front oxygen sensors are detecting the extra unburned oxygen. That problem will go away, then those codes will erase automatically after 50 engine starts once the E85 is used up.

The alcohol in the E85 burns hotter than gasoline so burning valves and pistons is a concern, but it seems unlikely Chrysler would go through the trouble of designing engine parts for E85 use, then use lesser quality parts for gas-only engines. For that reason, I don't think you're going to permanently damage anything. Flex-fuel vehicles have a sensor in the fuel supply line to detect the percentage of alcohol, then the Engine Computer modifies fuel metering and spark timing accordingly, and it will expect to see that extra oxygen so it won't set the two "lean exhaust" fault codes.

The third code is related to insufficient flow in the fuel evaporative emissions system. That is most likely related and will erase by itself. When the Engine Computer opens the solenoid to purge the charcoal canister of stored vapor, it expects to see the exhaust go rich. Actually, the oxygen sensors don't detect unburned fuel, only unburned oxygen, and it's seeing too much oxygen so it's assuming not enough fuel vapor came in from the charcoal canister. I wouldn't worry about that code either.

Unless someone tells you different, I'd try to run the E85 out as soon as possible, then at about a half tank, add gasoline without ethanol to dilute what's left. Your fuel mileage will drop a lot in the meantime. That's one of the jokes played on us by the environmentalists and politicians. You'll save a little gasoline but need a whole lot more E85 to go the same distance.

Caradiodoc
Sep 27, 2011.
What if the codes dont clear up also how would I find out if I can burn the e85, is there an alternative gas I can burn that is cheaper the regular unleaded and where would I get it, am I possibly gonna damage something?

Tiny
Davidfarr3000
Sep 27, 2011.
Those codes erase automatically after the problem no longer is present. I mentioned that previously; it will take 50 engine starts after the problem is gone.

No permanent damage should occur but until the E85 is used up, there will likely be a sag or hesitation on acceleration, particularly when the engine is still cold. Your fuel mileage will drop by about 30 percent. For use of E85 on a regular basis, Chrysler is very specific about the type of engine oil that is used. They also recommend alternating between E85 and unleaded regular every other tankful.

I've been through two service manuals and the Chrysler web site, and I can't find any information on flex-fuel designations, but as I recall, there should be some kind of sticker by the gas cap that spells out that E85 is acceptable. Also look at the emissions sticker under the hood. If there is any mention of anything that must be suitable for flex-fuel use, it is likely your engine can run on it.
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Caradiodoc
Sep 28, 2011.

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