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No, using ethanol-blended gas doesn't save you much money at the pump

As high gas prices continue to hit drivers at the pump, some are wondering what other alternatives can bring to their wallet.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced he is suspending a federal rule preventing the sale of higher ethanol blend gas this summer.

Biden said it was an effort to bring down prices at the pump that spiked during Russia's war with Ukraine.

Right now, about 2,300 gas stations around the country offer E-15 fuel. Most are in the South and Midwest. 

The news about ethanol has prompted some to ask about the benefits of this choice at the pump.

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Does using an ethanol-blend of gas rather than regular, unleaded gas save you money?


Patrick De Haan with GasBuddy

The U.S. Department of Energy



No, using an ethanol-blend of gas rather than regular, unleaded gas does not save you money.


The DOE reports ethanol is a renewable, domestically-produced fuel for vehicles. 

There are different blends of ethanol fuel. Most of the time, drivers will see E-15 or E-85 at a station. The numbers note the percentage of ethanol in the fuel.

You'll probably notice E-15 and E-85 are often cheaper than regular, unleaded gas. 

Before you fuel up, know that not every car can handle this blend. Your car's manual should show whether it can.

If your car can take the E-85 blend, now we can determine the potential savings. Let's calculate: the average price for a gallon of E-85 gas is around $3.50, according to AAA. Regular, unleaded gas is around $4.12 a gallon, just shy of a 60-cent per gallon difference.

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It does add up, but the price difference may not really mean savings; assuming a car's tank carries about 12 gallons of fuel, that means the average E-85 fuel user will pay about $42 to fill up. Compare that to the $49.44 for the regular unleaded fill-up, and that means E-85 fuel costs about $7.44 cheaper.

The cheaper price may still be a boon, but keep an eye on the dashboard. The DOE notes the E-85 blend will give drivers about 27% fewer miles per gallon than regular gas.

De Haan said the average driver won't see a benefit from making the switch.

"It's not going to have an impact on people that fill up with regular gasoline," De Haan said. "It's not a price impact. It's the availability of fuel, where it's available."

The DOE has an interactive calculator for drivers to estimate the cost of using ethanol in their vehicle compared to regular gas.

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