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Has anyone experience the loss of overdrive, check engine light, and high rpm cruising after fueling up on E85? Maybe this is common known info, but not to me.

 

I was refueling in Grand Rapids, MI at a big E85 station late one night. I usually blend 4 gallons within a 9 gallon typical refuel, but it was cold and windy. Just went ahead and ran a full 9 gallons of E85 into a non flex Ford focus. After 20 miles or so of freeway driving the tranny, sifted out of overdrive. I checked all the usual, but no indication of the contributing problem. The check engine light lit up soon afterward. I surmised the event related to high ethanol fuel? Knowing how logic controllers for equipment can be programmed and enough mechanical knowledge to understand no damage would ensue with continue operation of the vehicle in this state I opted to run the E85 out and refuel with unleaded. After a refuel of 2 and 3 gallon the overdrive came back and after 1/2 tank the check engine light went out, as well. My guess (not much on internet) is the logic of engine controller once calculating the fuel exceeded fuel spec, put the vehicle into limp mode. This mode is a guarantee to auto manufacturer that the owner will visit a auto shop to be scolded and suffer stiff financial penalty for using fuel not approved. Funny the car ran well on this high level blend, even in the super cold weather. Gas mileage was not up to par since losing overdrive, though. 

 

I told the story to garage and sales lot owner, whom just attributed the event to ethanol hurting the car. He also said his Cadillac couldn't use ethanol because the car needed premium fuel. The cost of miss fueling once going to garage is stiff. He had experience with such as in gasoline in diesel tank. A big mess to drop the tank and drain all fuel components. I mentioned some garages change out hardware as well since contaminated with ethanol and are unreliable in future.

 

Isn't this all a bunch of bunk. To manipulate or fool a car owner per programming trickery. There is something very un-american going on here. When citizens whom pay the bills can be held hostage to desires of regulators or needs of car manufacturers to throw business to car dealerships. It's like a game of gottcha, you didn't follow directions so suffer sucker. Note, that I've experienced the days of Jimmy Carter ethanol when cars got horrible MPG per emissions control equipment. Regulators and car manufactures did their best back then, as well, to punish car owners whom attempted to modify the OEM equipment for better mileage. Just like all safety or pollution control equipment a big engineering cost to reverse engineer the equipment to fail if owners tinker. Funny, though those car owners that removed pollution control equipment passed the tail pipe emissions test. How? They had a supply source of high ethanol fuel.

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I've run several tanks of 100% E85 on my 98 Dakota non-flex fuel with no issues - but then I am a mile high above sea level so 12% less oxygen and can get away with a leaner fuel mixture. I do run 1/2 E85 and 1/2 E10 most of the time. Then again it is a 98 Dakota so much less sophisticated programming.

 

Is there a tuner available for a Ford Focus - besides the ST? I think there is. I would imagine there would be an easy way to override this.

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Ya, the high altitude benefits of fueling up on oxygenate fuel a smart move. This goes unreported as to the benefits of ethanol fuel acting like a chemical turbo. My old truck runs well on E85 in summer, but I run E50 in winter for better startups and warm ups. Sure would love a blender pump. The E50 appears to the magic number not to bypass. This blend runs well in summer or winter and does not affect Mpg that much. This must be the high limit? The focus doesn't lose much mileage on high ethanol blends. Hardly noticeable. My guess E30 or E40 would go non detected.  

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Ya, the high altitude benefits of fueling up on oxygenate fuel a smart move. This goes unreported as to the benefits of ethanol fuel acting like a chemical turbo. My old truck runs well on E85 in summer, but I run E50 in winter for better startups and warm ups. Sure would love a blender pump. The E50 appears to the magic number not to bypass. This blend runs well in summer or winter and does not affect Mpg that much. This must be the high limit? The focus doesn't lose much mileage on high ethanol blends. Hardly noticeable. My guess E30 or E40 would go non detected.  

 

I wished we had blender pumps here. Supposedly there is one 100+ miles east of my location so no point of going there unless I am passing though.

 

Maybe a conversion kit might help with the limp mode. That would be very frustrating. Car makers especially US car makes are working hand in hand with oil companies it seems, they do their best to discourage use of ethanol  and do their best to make sure if you do use it, it has adverse effects on performance - programmed in.

 

 Next new BS gimmick to avoid a true increase in engine efficiency is "direct injection". Seemingly a good idea but over time the vehicle uses more fuel per mile, loses power and is very gradual so the owner does not notice right away. Helps out oil companies and service departments since eventually the owner will need to take it in to get the heads serviced (as a result of rough idle and poor fuel economy) to the oil sludge cleaned off the intake valves - in a direct injected engine, the fuel never touches the intake valves and never has a chance to clean the oil deposits from the PCV system, in a port injected engine there is no issue since the fuel spray keeps the valves clean, especially if the fuel is ethanol or an ethanol rich blend.

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Wow. DI is not all what it's cracked up to be. I just read that car companies are trying to keep this quiet, but offer a TSB to garages to watch out for the stumbling and loss of power. Also, read of DI creating more unhealthy PM emissions.  One company modified injection spray to squirt some on intake valve. 

 

They still are playing around with DI and port injection. Usually with ethanol and/or water mix to maximize octane and decrease heat when needed for high torque. Lower horsepower output utilizes plain unleaded port injection. As you know the ethanol component capable of doubling engines torque. This would be a good setup for lean burn technology, running pure ethanol. This fuel has more exacting and predictable ignition profile so important with the technology. A micro squirt of ethanol at spark plug to initiate combustion. Large squirt when max torque needed. The same setup could be used within diesel engine running ethanol, but diesel fuel utilized to initiate combustion instead.       

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I've done some reading on the DI injection issues.   With DI, there's no fuel to wash over the intake valves to keep them clean.   With modern day PCV systems, oil droplets get sucked into the intake, coating the back of the intake valves.  Without the fuel there to keep them clean, it starts to build up over time and starts to cause problems.  

 

From what I have read, the European cars are the worst.   BMW, Audi, and particularly VW have serious issues with it.   Since a lot of these engines are now boosted with turbochargers, you can't just run regular induction treatments through the exhaust.    Ford has actually put out a TSB on this, as several owners have damaged their turbo-chargers putting induction treatments through to clean the valves. 

 

It seems the only company that's not having problems with valve guide build up is GM.   Not sure what they are doing different, but there's little mention of this problem in their forums.

 

Toyota is aware of it, that's why they have a Dual Injection setup in their Tacoma's with that new 3.5L engine now.   It utilizes both Port and DI depending on load.

 

Some people are installing "Catch Cans" to try to get the oil to drop out of the vapor from the PCV system.    They simply empty the catch can whenever they change the oil, but this isn't a very popular option with OEM's, as it's just one more maintenance step for them to have to go through every oil change.

 

It will be interesting to see as these new DI engine age, what problems start to show up.   For the European cars it seems 30K miles is the magic number.

 

WM

 

 

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Apparently this isn't the only Toyota engine to have the dual injection setup, I just did some reading as well. Now if only they were flex fuel as well. Sorry for going off topic.

Problems like the limp mode when running E85 - there's got to be a simple fix for that somehow. Maybe the old trick of using a resistor on the air intake temp sensor might work since it makes the car think it's getting colder more dense air than it really is and as a result it enriches the fuel mixture.

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