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I just got  a new (2006)  Ford F150 and was glad to find out it is a Flex Fuel vehicle. I traveled about 30 minutes away from my home (Kansas City) to find E85 (Smithsville). It was only 5 cents per gallon cheaper, but my vehicle ran very good with it, I noticed just a slight drop in gas mileage.

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I just got a new (2006) Ford F150 and was glad to find out it is a Flex Fuel vehicle. I traveled about 30 minutes away from my home (Kansas City) to find E85 (Smithsville). It was only 5 cents per gallon cheaper, but my vehicle ran very good with it, I noticed just a slight drop in gas mileage.

 

Congratulations on your purchase.  This is a vehicle I have spent a lot of time working on.  My wife has a 2006 and I have a 2004.  Ford's programming from the factory for e85 does not provide much in the way of efficiency.  Please do me a favor and tell me what the PCM code is.  You can find it on the left side at the firewall when you are facing the vehicle with the lid open.  It will be just to the right on the battery.  Something like "RYB2".  I am curious because I analyzed the RYB2 tune and it was terribly inefficient when burning E85. 

 

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I just noticed in the owners manual that if you run E85 at least 50% of the time, Ford recommends changing oil at 3000 mile intervals as opposed to 5000 using normal gasoline. Does anyone know why that is?

 

Thats odd..  I could understand changing the oil filter more often because everytime you run the ethanol it;s cleaning up the sludge ..actually that would make sense then for also changing the oil

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Interesting.  I think I will dig into this in the near future.  Remember I watched this carefully when I began the conversion of my 2004 F150.  I changed over to a better filter and synthetic oil with acid neutralizers.  My owners manual calls for oil changes at 3000 mile intervals so Ford's change to 5000 mile intervals seems more like meeting JD Power cost of ownership studies than it does for any mechanical benefit.  The motor hasn't changed from the 04 to the 06 so my suggestion is they are simply trying to reduce cost of ownership without regard to long term.  By offering up a FFV version, Ford gets breaks from the gov on CAFE standards so I am betting this change "back" to 3000 mile oil changes is related.

 

My early oil changes showed cleaner oil coming out of the engine when compared to the used oil when I was burning E10.  I am going to be doing an oil change on my truck this weekend having extended the interval to 5000 miles.  I will post my perception of the color of the oil.  I am now nearing 12,000 miles since I switched to E85.

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Finished the oil change and fuel filter change early this morning.  My truck now has 100,500 miles on it.  I am right at 12,000 since switching to E85.  Again, the color of the oil after running 5000 miles is much lighter brown and much cleaner looking when compared to my previous oil changes while burning E10 gasoline.  I changed the fuel filter; but, based upon the color of the fuel coming out... really didn't need to.  It was clean as a whistle. 

 

All good.  Fuel economy heading above 12 MPG exactly where it was with E10 gasoline.  I will be taking a trip with the truck in the next week.  It will be mostly highway miles; but, am heading north so we'll see how well it does.

 

 

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tschaid,

 

Could you explain a little more what about the Ford factory E85 tuning you felt made it inefficent?  Also, I've read that the factory tuning gives a 5% power increase when using E85, but have never found the original source for this.  I know that you've reasearched this extensively.  Can you shed any light on that? 

 

The reasons for my questions is that I have an 06 F150 5.4L FFV (RYB3) and I've been looking into getting an aftermarket performance tuner for it (xcal2 or edge).  I'd really like to run predominantly E85 in it, however, as there are several stations near me that carry it now.  From what I've read, the factory tuning adjust the fuel delivery and timing based on the percentage of ethanol in the fuel that is indicated by a sensor in the fuel system.  With an aftermarket programmer, however, I was concerned that I would lose this adapability because their programs would be dialed in for one specific fuel octane rating.  With E85, this is espeically a problem due to the changing octane ratings from winter to summer mixes.  In my mind, with either the xcal2 or edge, I would have to have several custom programs for the various octane ratings depending on the time of year. Actually, I'm not sure exactly how you would know what octane rating I had on a particular fillup.  There seems to be such a wide available range in the E85 mix (from 70% up to 85% ethanol per the pump stickers).

 

Any info you could provide would be appreciated.  Thanks.

 

Jon

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tschaid,

 

Could you explain a little more what about the Ford factory E85 tuning you felt made it inefficent?  Also, I've read that the factory tuning gives a 5% power increase when using E85, but have never found the original source for this.  I know that you've reasearched this extensively.  Can you shed any light on that? 

 

The reasons for my questions is that I have an 06 F150 5.4L FFV (RYB3) and I've been looking into getting an aftermarket performance tuner for it (xcal2 or edge).  I'd really like to run predominantly E85 in it, however, as there are several stations near me that carry it now.  From what I've read, the factory tuning adjust the fuel delivery and timing based on the percentage of ethanol in the fuel that is indicated by a sensor in the fuel system.  With an aftermarket programmer, however, I was concerned that I would lose this adapability because their programs would be dialed in for one specific fuel octane rating.  With E85, this is espeically a problem due to the changing octane ratings from winter to summer mixes.  In my mind, with either the xcal2 or edge, I would have to have several custom programs for the various octane ratings depending on the time of year. Actually, I'm not sure exactly how you would know what octane rating I had on a particular fillup.  There seems to be such a wide available range in the E85 mix (from 70% up to 85% ethanol per the pump stickers).

 

Any info you could provide would be appreciated.  Thanks.

 

Jon

 

Jon,

 

You have touched on quite a number of points.  First let's talk about the XCal2 and the Edge.  It seems to me you have been or are on F150Online.  If so, you have seen quite a number of my posts over there including responses from the Superchips Distribtutor flaming me.  He & I had a real good relationship until he did not respond to issues with the Xcal2 telling me he owed me nothing.  This started the bad blood.  Of course, that was also before my conversion to E85 of my 2004 F150.  Still, he is easily the best F150 tuner in the business.  In fact, I don't really believe anybody compares in research & testing, etc.  When I began this project, I spoke with Rob Story at Edge to determine if the Edge would allow me the control I was looking for.  Rob was honest and upfront telling me it would not.  So, that is the history.

 

Now... to try to answer your questions.  If you have the skill or want to gain the skill, the best approach to tuning your vehicle is to do it yourself.  How ?  For about $250 you can purchase the SCT Pro Racer Software and for another $350 you can purchase the XCAL2 programmer.  This will then allow you to reprogam your vehicle at will. 

 

Comparing a custom tune to the factory tune is really quite easy.  Remember, the mfgr is required by law to tune a vehicle to satisfy a number of criteria.  The first is fuel economy as it pertains to gasoline.  They do not; however, have to tune a vehicle to burn E70 or E85 efficiently.  But, let's take a quick look at some of the specifics.  I have analyzed RYB2, even loading many of the parameters from RYB2 (2006 FFV) into my 2004 F150.  You are correct, Ford has built in controls that are utilized when E85 is sensed in the fuel delivery system.  They have not optimized the ignition timing and they have not optimized the fuel economy under either E85 or gasoline.  The transmission shift points have way too much overlap.  A high percentage of Ethyl Alcohol provides us with some very cool possiblilities when tuning these trucks.  First, Alcohol burns at an easy 200 degrees cooler than gasoline.  Second, the emissions results from Alcohol are significantly below even California requirements.  This allows tuning to a leaner burn.  The accepted air to fuel ratio for E85 is around 9.85 air to 1 fuel.  This will result in fuel economy at least 2 MPG below what is possible.  By raising this from to between 10.8 & 11.8 to 1, you engine will still operate below the temp when burning gasoline and you emissions will still be far below California requirements. 

 

Now, let's talk about Octane Ratings.  E85 Ethanol is specific at 105 Octane.  E85 is generally blended by using 110 Octane 100% Ethly Alochol and 15% 85 or 87 Octane Gasoline.  By raising the percentage of Gasoline, you are in fact lowering the Octane Rating of the fuel.  But...  no tuner should ever advance the timing to dial in 105 Octane because no real benefit occurs after around 100 Octane from what I have seen.  That being said, the experienced tuner advances timing only to the point where maximum speed is achieved in elapsed time. 

 

This has already become a long winded response.  Send me an e-mail with your e-mail address and I would be happy to explain much more.  I promised to write an article for Dan several months ago; but, am so so busy I just haven't had the time.  I will absolutely write the article and present it to Dan in the near future; but, for now... I would be happy to exchange e-mail messages with you if you are interested in the specific details about the tuning of these vehicles.  My truck, over 105,000 miles, has just exceeded 16,500 since converting it to run on E85 and I could not be happier with the performance.  My truck is heavily modified; but, I expect to see 200K, 300K primarily due to the cleaner burning of E85.  It is a superior fuel.

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Tom I added a new category under E85 Conversions .. for  Tunning Software http://e85vehicles.com/e85/index.php?board=72.0

 

Can you start that Category off with links to the products you recommend or have used for self-tuning for ethanol/e85

 

I think this is a great alternative to the Flex Convertors in roughly the same price range

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I am interesting in running E85. I found a used x-cal2 but it has the wrong pcm code. I plan on getting the pro racer software, so I can tune properly for ethonol, but could I use that pro racer software to change the pcm code? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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