E85 Fuel and suitable engine oil - Tech Tip

We get many calls regarding which of our oils are suitable for use with E85 fuel. Some of these calls are for competition purposes and others for on or off-road use. In any case, many oils are suitable for use with E85 fuel, although the life of the oil may be different to an oil used with unleaded or diesel fuel, depending on the type of oil used and the application.

Ethanol fuel is produced from renewable resources such as sugar cane and is mixed with petrol to form fuels such as E10 or E85. E10 is a mixture of 90% unleaded fuel and 10% Ethanol. E85 fuel is a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% unleaded petrol. Many modern vehicles can utilise E10 fuels but not many standard factory vehicles can run on E85. Vehicles able to use E85 can be also known as Flex Fuel vehicles.

Some examples of these are:

Holden VE Series II and VF Series Commodore V6
Chrysler Sebring V6 
Dodge Journey & Avenger
SAAB 9-3 and 9-5 BioPower Models

In Australian Motorsport, all the Supercars run on E85 fuel.

If using for on-road applications, the API (American Petroleum Institute) advises that the most suitable oils for everyday use are those that meet API SN Resource Conserving and ILSAC GF-5 specifications. Specific tests were introduced for oils meeting these specifications for corrosion protection when using E85 fuel. E85, in general, poses issues with corrosion protection as water is soluble in ethanol and even trace amounts can increase the likelihood of rust occurring inside the engine and fuel delivery system. 

Oil that mixes readily with ethanol fuel blends can appear to go milky and may appear to be contaminated with water, where fuel dilution of the oil occurs. Recent on road tests have shown vehicles running on E85 will use up to 36% more fuel than the same vehicle running on regular petrol. Therefore, there always remains the possibility of unburnt fuel being deposited into the sump and causing fuel dilution of the oil.

If you do choose to use E85 fuel, we recommend that you significantly reduce your service interval times to reduce the risk of fuel dilution of the oil, in both on road and competition vehicles.

For a list of API SN Resource Conserving, ILSAC GF-5 grade oils, Click Here to use the Penrite Spec Finder.

Further details on our products are available on their respective product page found on the Penrite web site: www.penriteoil.com.au/

Looking for more Technical Information? Please click on "Technical" at the top of the page. To talk to the Tech Team call 1300 PENRITE (M-F 7:00am - 5:30pm AEST) or email tech@penriteoil.com.au

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Posted on: 19 Dec, 2017