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6th Gen ('00-'05): E85 Conversion

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Old 09-11-2017, 11:43 AM
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Default E85 Conversion

Hi guys, seeing as I live in Kansas and travel home to Nebraska on occasion E85 is pretty easy to come by. In fact at my parents home in Nebraska its a 30 mile drive to find premium and only a 10 mile drive for E85 . Because of this, along with the power and KR reduction benefits I have been contemplating switching to E85 for a while now. I called ZZP and asked them if they recommend it and if so what I need and I was told all I'd have to do is install their E85 in-tank fuel pump and get 60# injectors and then a tune.

If there is anyone who has done this conversion or knows a thing or two about it, is this true? I am under the impression that you need to change a handful of other rubber parts that E85 will eat, but not according to ZZP. If that is all it takes, do you guys recommend it? The car is my daily driver, is winter going to be a problem? I have heard very mixed stories on driving E85 cars in winter.
 
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:16 PM
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What are your current mods?

​​​​​Technically they're right as far as what needs changed as a bare minimum. Depending on what you plan to use it for, there are a few issues I can think of:
-These cars are not 'flex fuel' compatible on the stock pcm setup. You can tune it for gas, or you can tune it for eXX. However, you can't just dump in whatever mix from one end to the other and expect it to work right like you can with a flex fuel car as the car has no way of knowing what mix is in the tank, there is no pcm input for it.
-That leads to issue #2. If you live in a colder climate, they typically scale back the ethanol component down to the 50s in winter. Our pcm does have the ability to adjust fuel trims within reason, but if you tune for e85 in the summer and they change to e54 in the winter, the tune isn't going to be well dialed in anymore. Certainly you can buy some e98 and blend it back up, but that's a pain.
-if it's a daily driver, you should seriously consider the gas mileage impact as it is quite large. It usually seems to come close to washing out the price savings.

IMO for the 3800, I think e85 is best left to the boosted tinkerer who wants to really crank the boost and push their setup. I think it's best to be able to do your own tuning if you live in an area with big swings in content to have multiple tunes to swap between. It's also a pain to have to check content periodically to figure out when it does change. If our pcm had a flex fuel sensor input and could adjust itself automatically, id be polar opposite.

IMO if you're just trying to increase octane (and you are boosted) I prefer meth injection. That way you can still run on pump gas and just top off the meth reservoir periodically from a 5 gallon pail.
 

Last edited by bumpin96monte; 09-11-2017 at 09:22 PM.
  #3  
Old 09-11-2017, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bumpin96monte View Post
What are your current mods?

​​​​​Technically they're right as far as what needs changed as a bare minimum. Depending on what you plan to use it for, there are a few issues I can think of:
-These cars are not 'flex fuel' compatible on the stock pcm setup. You can tune it for gas, or you can tune it for eXX. However, you can't just dump in whatever mix from one end to the other and expect it to work right like you can with a flex fuel car as the car has no way of knowing what mix is in the tank, there is no pcm input for it.
-That leads to issue #2. If you live in a colder climate, they typically scale back the ethanol component down to the 50s in winter. Our pcm does have the ability to adjust fuel trims within reason, but if you tune for e85 in the summer and they change to e54 in the winter, the tune isn't going to be well dialed in anymore. Certainly you can buy some e98 and blend it back up, but that's a pain.
-if it's a daily driver, you should seriously consider the gas mileage impact as it is quite large. It usually seems to come close to washing out the price savings.

IMO for the 3800, I think e85 is best left to the boosted tinkerer who wants to really crank the boost and push their setup. I think it's best to be able to do your own tuning if you live in an area with big swings in content to have multiple tunes to swap between. It's also a pain to have to check content periodically to figure out when it does change. If our pcm had a flex fuel sensor input and could adjust itself automatically, id be polar opposite.

IMO if you're just trying to increase octane (and you are boosted) I prefer meth injection. That way you can still run on pump gas and just top off the meth reservoir periodically from a 5 gallon pail.
Currently I am running a 3.4" MPS, 1.9 rockers, ZZP headers, and then basic supporting mods. I plan on eventually intercooling, porting the blower, and getting a northstar TB kit.

Is meth injection reliable enough for a daily driver? Around here gas prices for 91 are ~25-35% higher than E85, so it may cost me a bit more in gas but not necessarily. The winter is my bigger concern. It has rarely gotten below 10F in the last couple winters here and trouble starting would be something to consider.

As for the car not being true flex fuel, wouldn't a kit like this allow me to run either fuel? I have 0 knowledge on how those things work and how well they do, but if what the website says is true then it should solve the cold-start issues, right?
 
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Keudn View Post
Currently I am running a 3.4" MPS, 1.9 rockers, ZZP headers, and then basic supporting mods. I plan on eventually intercooling, porting the blower, and getting a northstar TB kit.
E85 and an IC would really let you crank that blower to the max as it sounds like you've got a nice set of base mods.

Is meth injection reliable enough for a daily driver?
Sure, lots of people do it. As long as you're just using it for cooling and not for a significant part of your fueling, it's no more concerning than running a water to air intercooler pump. Either way you go, if the pump fails, you lose your charge cooling and could see knock. The key either way is to have some sort of visual indicator that it's working or some way to monitor knock (like an aero force gauge).

Where you add more risk is if you replace so much fueling that the car will go dangerously lean without it. The way I've got my vette set up is that it subtracts about 1 AFR point when ramped in full blast. My setup is tuned for about a 10.8 AFR with meth, so if I lost it, it'll only go up to about 11.8 which isnt ideal but isn't dangerous either. I also have a KR display with warning capability.

Around here gas prices for 91 are ~25-35% higher than E85, so it may cost me a bit more in gas but not necessarily. The winter is my bigger concern. It has rarely gotten below 10F in the last couple winters here and trouble starting would be something to consider.
Yeah, probably about a wash on price except for the initial cost to be able to run e85.

E85 can be harder to start, but that is the benefit of true flex fuel factory cars. Combine that with the gas companies cutting way back on the amount of ethanol in winter and it's not usually a problem. Certainly on an aftermarket setup, especially on actual e85 it can take awhile to crank up, especially when you get that cold.

As for the car not being true flex fuel, wouldn't a kit like this allow me to run either fuel? I have 0 knowledge on how those things work and how well they do, but if what the website says is true then it should solve the cold-start issues, right?
Honestly I've never seen that kit before or heard of anyone using it. I do wonder how it knows the e85 content without having an inline fuel sensor? I know some factory cars use a virtual sensor via the O2 readings, but I thought they had a specialized o2 sensor for that (like a wideband), but I could be wrong.

I'd be leery of running that unless you knew someone who has had success on a 3800. Between injectors, a fuel pump, tuning, and this box you'll have more than a grand wrapped up in it. Id hate to see it not work up to your needs.
 
  #5  
Old 09-12-2017, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bumpin96monte View Post
E85 and an IC would really let you crank that blower to the max as it sounds like you've got a nice set of base mods.

Sure, lots of people do it. As long as you're just using it for cooling and not for a significant part of your fueling, it's no more concerning than running a water to air intercooler pump. Either way you go, if the pump fails, you lose your charge cooling and could see knock. The key either way is to have some sort of visual indicator that it's working or some way to monitor knock (like an aero force gauge).

Where you add more risk is if you replace so much fueling that the car will go dangerously lean without it. The way I've got my vette set up is that it subtracts about 1 AFR point when ramped in full blast. My setup is tuned for about a 10.8 AFR with meth, so if I lost it, it'll only go up to about 11.8 which isnt ideal but isn't dangerous either. I also have a KR display with warning capability.

Yeah, probably about a wash on price except for the initial cost to be able to run e85.

E85 can be harder to start, but that is the benefit of true flex fuel factory cars. Combine that with the gas companies cutting way back on the amount of ethanol in winter and it's not usually a problem. Certainly on an aftermarket setup, especially on actual e85 it can take awhile to crank up, especially when you get that cold.

Honestly I've never seen that kit before or heard of anyone using it. I do wonder how it knows the e85 content without having an inline fuel sensor? I know some factory cars use a virtual sensor via the O2 readings, but I thought they had a specialized o2 sensor for that (like a wideband), but I could be wrong.

I'd be leery of running that unless you knew someone who has had success on a 3800. Between injectors, a fuel pump, tuning, and this box you'll have more than a grand wrapped up in it. Id hate to see it not work up to your needs.
My goal with the car is to get it as powerful as I can while keeping it as reliable as I can. I most likely don't ever plan on putting heads and a cam on it. Seeing as I am only 2 years into college and the cars got 155k miles on it, by the time I have a good paying job and a house + another car I can drive so I can go all out on the monte it will probably have died. My thoughts on E85 are it will make more power while still being just as reliable.

Seeing as running water injection is reliable, my question then becomes what power differences are there between E85 and water injection? I'll admit the tune issue with E85 is my biggest deterrence, but if it makes significantly more power than water injection then for me the pros may outweigh the cons. I already have an Aeroforce Scan Gauge so knocking from a failed water injection pump wouldn't be a problem for me. The other pro for E85 is that I drive 250 miles back to my parents 3-5 times a year. I have to go all the way to Grand Island to get 91 as none of the small towns locally have it, but they do have E85. In my mind the decision between either is going to be how much power they can make me.

As for the kit I linked, my very limited understanding of it makes me think it mostly just increases the amount of fuel during a cold startup to ease the cold-start issue. I don't believe it gives flex-fuel capability since like you said theres no sensor for that.
 
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Old 09-12-2017, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Keudn View Post
My goal with the car is to get it as powerful as I can while keeping it as reliable as I can.
Have you thought about going turbo? The upside there is you can make really good power without having to touch much of anything on the engine. IMO the fewer parts you have to change or mod, the more reliable the setup will be. Of course the kicker is always the transmission, but once you get a built one it should last a while as long as you're not going crazy on power.
​​​​
Seeing as running water injection is reliable, my question then becomes what power differences are there between E85 and water injection?
That's a tough question as there are many variables. If you're talking about true e85 vs straight water injection, id say e85 by a lot. At the other end, if you're talking e5X (whatever the minimum blend is) vs straight methanol injection, id say it's a bit more even but depends how big of nozzles youre running.

Certainly the upside to e85 on a roots supercharged setup is you know you're getting even fuel distribution due to it going through the injectors. Meth or water injection into the intake probably isn't as even to the cylinders as the blower outlet is off to one side. It really depends how well the injection vaporizes as bigger droplets could have a hard time in the LIM.

In my mind the decision between either is going to be how much power they can make me.
Sounds like e85 is the way to go then IMO.

As for the kit I linked, my very limited understanding of it makes me think it mostly just increases the amount of fuel during a cold startup to ease the cold-start issue. I don't believe it gives flex-fuel capability since like you said theres no sensor for that.
I imagine it must alter fueling during driving too, but I just don't understand how it works. They're also very light on any real details. It sounds like it's intercepting the fuel injector signal and then modifying it given the fuel blend. It makes me wonder what that does to the typical tuning process as you're basically adding another variable to your fueling tuning (which also changes with time depending what fuel mix it thinks you have at a given time).
 
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Old 09-13-2017, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bumpin96monte View Post
Have you thought about going turbo? The upside there is you can make really good power without having to touch much of anything on the engine. IMO the fewer parts you have to change or mod, the more reliable the setup will be. Of course the kicker is always the transmission, but once you get a built one it should last a while as long as you're not going crazy on power.


That's a tough question as there are many variables. If you're talking about true e85 vs straight water injection, id say e85 by a lot. At the other end, if you're talking e5X (whatever the minimum blend is) vs straight methanol injection, id say it's a bit more even but depends how big of nozzles youre running.

Certainly the upside to e85 on a roots supercharged setup is you know you're getting even fuel distribution due to it going through the injectors. Meth or water injection into the intake probably isn't as even to the cylinders as the blower outlet is off to one side. It really depends how well the injection vaporizes as bigger droplets could have a hard time in the LIM.

Sounds like e85 is the way to go then IMO.

I imagine it must alter fueling during driving too, but I just don't understand how it works. They're also very light on any real details. It sounds like it's intercepting the fuel injector signal and then modifying it given the fuel blend. It makes me wonder what that does to the typical tuning process as you're basically adding another variable to your fueling tuning (which also changes with time depending what fuel mix it thinks you have at a given time).
I have thought about turbo, but honestly I think it is out of the scope of what I intend on doing. IMO a turbo setup would be for when I wanted to go all out with the car, which until I get another car and it stops being my daily driver won't happen. Plus I like the powerband shifted more towards the lower end compared to a turbo's powerband at the mid-high rpm spectrum.

I am hesitant to set up a meth injection system because like you said earlier if it fails it can at best cause problems and possibly damage things. Water would make me more comfortable since a failure will just introduce KR which I will pick up on with my gauge almost immediately. But if E85 is going to make significantly more power than water then I think I am going to go that route and figure out how to keep the cold starting manageable. I will certainly post a thread on here with my experiences with it and what I find remedies the winter problems with E85.

The car needs brake rotors, pads, and two wheel hubs which are my primary concern at the moment, but after I get them sorted out I will probably start off with intercooling, converting to E85, and then getting a good dyno tune. I also need to figure out how on Earth I am going to pay for a TEP tranny since mine's got 155k miles on it and im going to make a guess and say it won't last long after intercooling+E85 lol. After that I'll port my blower and get a N* TB and I will probably call it good at that.
 
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Old 09-13-2017, 10:28 AM
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Im really interested in this and would like you to keep me updated if possible..

I wanna add, do everything you can to NOT get a ssic.. A simple hood scoop or something.. Ive known someone personally who regretted the shortstack and after spending the money, couldnt really do anything about it..
 
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Old 09-13-2017, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by wht02monte View Post
Im really interested in this and would like you to keep me updated if possible..

I wanna add, do everything you can to NOT get a ssic.. A simple hood scoop or something.. Ive known someone personally who regretted the shortstack and after spending the money, couldnt really do anything about it..
I plan on getting ZZPs stage 2 intercooler. I kind of wish i could dyno it with just E85 and then again after the intercooler install but I'm not paying for two tunes and dyno runs lol
 
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Old 09-13-2017, 06:20 PM
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Wow, nice to see another build taking place. As you know, Bumpin is one of the very best here on the forum to receive advice from.

I have ran a water / meth system for years and no issues. But the fear of a failure resides in your mind. To resolve this, the AEM W/M Failsafe unit has been installed along with a new Holley Performance W/M system.

Here is some info on it.


AEMís Water/Methanol FAILSAFE Device is the most advanced water/methanol failsafe device on the market. It actively monitors the injection systemís ENTIRE flow curve to compensate for failure under ANY condition, allowing you to use your water/methanol system with complete peace of mind. If you have a water/methanol injection system or are considering one, you will not find a more advanced failsafe device on the market than the AEM Water/Methanol FAILSAFE Device

AEM 30-3020 Water - Methanol FAILSAFE Device - 1/4" SAE - FULL WARRANTY | eBay
 

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