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Gas jumps above $4

May 18, 2013

FAIRMONT — Area motorists found themselves in new territory Friday, when gas prices made a 22-cent jump to $4.19 per gallon....

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(37)

SouthernMNFarmer

May-24-13 9:04 PM

I will keep you updated jmaynard if and when I have any fuel related problems.

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jmaynard

May-23-13 9:39 PM

A non-issue for you, perhaps, but I've got better things to do with my money than rebuild the fuel system in my 2001 vehicle because politicians give the environmental lobby what they want, regardless of the effect i has on those of us who can't afford the newer stuff.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-23-13 7:10 PM

Theres no factory warranty left on a 2001 vehicle so thats a non issue.

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jmaynard

May-23-13 12:06 AM

Your 5 MPG number is completely meaningless by itself. As I've been saying throughout this discussion, it's only meaningful as a percentage of your overall fuel economy. Even so...if you lose 5 MPG on something around E50, it'd be that much worse on E85. By mixing the fuel, you're not taking as big a hit on economy, but not saving as much on the overall cost of a tank.

The converter kit isn't just (or even primarily) put on the engine. It's pretty much a complete replacement of the fuel system, lines, gaskets, and everything else that the fuel touches. E85 is considerably more corrosive than E10, and the fuel system has to be made to withstand it.

Your vehicle probably runs fine, and may well continue to run fine right until the fuel system disintegrates. There are numerous cases on record of people with severe damage from running E15, never mind E85, in non-flex-fuel vehicles - and that damage is not covered by vehicle warranty. You're playing Russian roulette with your vehicle.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-22-13 9:58 PM

I am not burning e85 at a full fill up I am blending a mixture of e10 and e85 thats why my vehicle only has a 5 mpg loss. Only buying a converter kit would allow my engine to burn a full fill up of e85. Not many flex fuel vehicles where sold back in 2001. And a vehicle this old it still runs like new used.

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jmaynard

May-22-13 9:19 PM

Just as it's not a fixed number of miles per gallon you'll lose in burning E85, so, too is it not a fixed price difference that makes it break-even or not. For a 40 cent difference to be break-even, that means that the mileage you get on E85 would be within 10% of that of E10 - and I've never seen *anyone* ever claim it was that good. Anyone. Ever. Even the most diehard ethanol partisans aren't claiming that. Your cited 5 MPG would qualify only if you were getting 50 MPG to start with!

No, you don't buy a pickup for MPG, true. That doesn't make using E85 any smarter economically, though.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-22-13 8:54 PM

Funny KEYC had a news story on E85 tonight and stated the break even point is 40 cents lower than e10 gas I have always heard 60 cents but at a 1.10 that makes it even better deal. And yes we might be hauling our corn straight to the local ethanol plant they need the corn and are paying more besides our corn would end up there or go for hog feed. And yes jmaynard its your choice if you want to use it or not. Just stating how it performs for my vehicle. Today at the local gas station I talked to a guy filling up for the first time with E85 in a brand new F150 he said even if it cuts his mpg down he didnt mind because you dont buy a pickup truck for mpg you buy it for pulling and hauling he told me.

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jmaynard

May-22-13 8:13 PM

Of course it helps to maintain your car properly. A properly maintained car will perform better and more reliably, and many things you need to maintain will negatively affect your fuel mileage if you don't. HIgh quality oil, tire pressures, tuneups according to the manufacturer's recommendations will all help.

Even with everything else the same, though, at today's prices, E85 is just a bad deal economically. If you want to buy it because it makes you feel virtuous in some way, that's your right...just don't try to tell me that it's anything but a bad deal.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-22-13 5:12 PM

Yes it all helps to have a proper tuned engine clean air filter synthetic blend oil or full synthetic oil helps big time and with regular oil and filter changes. And no I dont work for the ethanol industry.

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StumpJumper

May-22-13 9:39 AM

Proper tire pressure will help your mileage

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-22-13 9:27 AM

Good debate we have going on.

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jmaynard

May-22-13 8:45 AM

Yep, wildthing. It's easy to be positive when you have a big stake in the outcome. Notice he never says what that 5 MPG loss represents as a percentage of his fuel mileage.

SouthernMNFarmer, if your engine pings on 89 octane E10 (or, if marked Premium Unleaded Fuel Only, 91), then your car has a problem and needs to be looked at. Same thing for power loss on hills. Octane will have nothing at all to do with how smooth the idle is, since by definition, the engine's not running under load at idle.

You're seeing the placebo effect in action.

Regardless, while I'm stuck with E10, there's no way in*****I'll run any higher proportion of ethanol in my car. I'm not going to run the substantial risk of expensive damage just so the enviro-wackos can score political points.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-21-13 10:42 PM

Well in my vehicle which happens to be a 2001 runs much better off a blend of e10 89 octane and 105 octane e85. No pinging smoother idle and less power loss on hills. 5 mpg loss and the 1.10 price spread better performance its worth it to me.

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jmaynard

May-21-13 9:44 PM

Sure, high octane fuels reduce detonation (pinging). However, any engine built since about 1995, and many earlier, have sensors that help the engine computer adjust the spark timing to eliminate detonation even on substandard fuels. It's needed to improve engine reliability and let the engine computer control the exact timing for better performance and lower emissions.

What that means is that we're not in the 1970s any more. Using higher octane fuels in an engine that does not need them - which includes any engine made for gasoline - does nothing at all for you. If your engine won't ping on 87 octane, or even if it needs 91 to not ping, running the 96 E85 gives you (no, it's not 105; even the EPA says it's well under 100) will not change your engine's performance.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-21-13 9:18 PM

Higher octane fuels reduce and in some cases get rid of pinging spark knock anyone should know that. High compression engine or plain everyday barebone stock engine.

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jmaynard

May-21-13 8:38 PM

It's not an absolute number of miles per gallon. It's a percentage. A drop of 5 MPG is meaningless unless you say what it's a drop of 5 MPG from, and in what vehicle.

Further, the higher octane is useless unless your engine is designed to take advantage of it. Octane is not a measure of how much energy is in the fuel, or how good it is in any particular sense. A higher octane rating only allows the engine to use a higher compression ratio without detonation of the fuel/air mixture before the spark. My car needs 91 octane fuel or higher because it has an 11:1 compression ratio. That lets it produce more power and burn fuel more efficiently, no matter what fuel you feed it. I can't use E85, or even E15, though, because the fuel system wasn't designed for it, and that much alcohol will damage things.

But you can't just twist a knob or change a valve and increase your engine's compression ratio to offset the loss of efficiency in using E85. You have to change major components.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-21-13 6:00 PM

Burning a blend of e10 and e85 mpg drops only 5 and with the higher octane rating of 105 to 110 with the e85 the engine never pings and runs much smoother and cleaner burning compared to only running on e10 and the 1.10 price spread makes it even better. In the near future MN will have more blender pumps to give people more fuel choices.

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Meximo70

May-21-13 11:13 AM

wow. this isn't a political issue at all...this is big oil issue. This is a greed issue. if the arabs aren't screwing us over, the domestic oil companies are. the fact that a few refineries are closed for maintenence shouldn't effect their profit margin. it's summer. the price goes up just before memorial day. coincidence? doubt it. but there's nothing we can do about it except complain. we need gas to get to work,etc. they know they got us by the cajones.

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jmaynard

May-21-13 1:16 AM

Actually, has far as I know, there's one, maybe two 91-octane pumps in town that don't have ethanol in them. They're the ones labeled "for use only in off-roiad or collector vehicles". Since my current car requires 91-octane gas, I have to watch for that and go elsewhere if the sticker is present.

And yes, pretty much all gasoline is the same grade, around here. Regardless of brand, it only comes from a handful of refineries.

The difference in fuel mileage between ethanol and gasoline isn't a matter of fuel quality, either. It's a matter of basic chemistry. Ethanol has 2/3 the energy per unit of volume of gasoline. Octane has nothing to do with that.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-20-13 10:39 PM

I mow lawn with a 20 hp briggs since new its over ten years old never had any carb problems always use stabil never drain carb over winter and it runs like the day I bought it. Same with chainsaws and 8 hp snowblowers and generator engines. You might want to try buying your gas from another station not all gas is the same grade.

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jmaynard

May-20-13 9:05 PM

The problem is that your example assumes E85 delivers 83% of the fuel economy of E10. It's not a fixed number of miles per gallon less; it's a percentage, and that percentage is, in the experience of everyone I've talked to about it, more like 2/3 than your 5/6. That is why E85 is a bad choice economically as long as its cost is more than 2/3 that of E10.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-20-13 12:24 PM

At current price of 4.19 per gallon of e10 gas and 3.09 per gallon of e85 you stiil get more miles per dollars of fuel purchased burning e85 than e10 figuring your car is getting 30 mpg with e10 and 25 mpg burning e85 thats the point I am making. 8.091 miles per dollar for e85 and 7.160 miles per dollar for e10 even at 23 mpg with e85 at the sames prices your still are doing better burning e85.

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jmaynard

May-20-13 11:52 AM

That's exactly the point, though. The reports I've seen from many, many people say that they get 2/3 the miles per gallon from E85 - at absolute best - that they get from E10.

If the miles per gallon are 2/3, and the dollars per gallon are 73.4%, then that results in a miles per dollar of .908 comparing E85 to E10.

Using the numbers you cite, and assuming a fuel mileage of 30 MPG on E10 to make the calculations simple, the fuel cost of driving a mile on E10 is 14 cents. The fuel cost of driving a mile on E85 at 20 MPG is 15.5 cents.

And that 20 MPG is optimistic. Ask people in the real world to compare E10 vs. E85 fuel economy. I have.

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SouthernMNFarmer

May-20-13 10:21 AM

Even if you your mpg drops 5 points you will still get more miles per dollar by burning e85 because of the large 1.10 price gap. Look up the e85 price per mile website.

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jmaynard

May-20-13 9:29 AM

I'm saying that ethanol is a bad choice for fuel. We're burning our food supply instead of producing the oil we have right here in North America. Yeah, it might help a few farmers around here, but as a choice for our country as a whole, it stinks.

Ethanol simply doesn't have the energy content per unit of volume that gasoline does. That's why we burn gasoline in the first place.

And spending more and getting less makes you a chump, no matter what the reasons you claim for the choice.

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