Drivers searching for a gas station providing E85 fuel can find these stations using a variety of websites, including EthanolRetailer.com or the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center. These websites provide mapping tools that locate gas stations selling E85 within a specified radius of a location.
E85 fuel is so named because it is a blend of standard gasoline with a high percentage of ethanol alcohol. Despite its name, E85 is not always a blend of 85 percent ethanol to 15 percent gasoline. The actual composition of E85 varies from 55 to 83 percent ethanol, depending on the geographic region and season. Since ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline, vehicles running on E85 usually have worse gas mileage than similar vehicles fueled with gasoline. Higher levels of ethanol in a particular E85 blend reduce gas mileage more severely than equal mixtures.
While standard gasoline is often blended with 10 percent ethanol for use in standard vehicles, normal car engines are severely damaged by the high ethanol content of E85. Only specialized flex-fuel vehicles with engines built to withstand ethanol's corrosive effects can use E85. Since flex-fuel vehicles are relatively rare as compared to conventional cars, many gas stations choose not to offer E85.