Two Sheetz gas blends are discounted — should you use them?

Sheetz has reduced the price on two of its gasoline grades: unleaded 88 and E85. In its Monday announcement, Sheetz said it was lowering the prices to reduce pain at the pump over the July Fourth weekend.

Both are blends of fuel that have higher concentrations of ethanol than normal fuel has, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. Regular gasoline has 10% ethanol.

The unleaded 88 is known as E15, because it is blended with 15% ethanol. In making the announcement, Sheetz indicated that unleaded 88 is approved by the EPA for use in vehicles for model years 2001 or newer as well as light-duty trucks, SUVs and flex fuel vehicles.

De Haan said the EPA has done “over a billion miles of testing” on the E15 fuel, adding that most auto manufacturers disclose that consumers can use up to 15% ethanol. Some manufacturer’s, however, indicate not using blends with more than 10% ethanol.

“But I always recommend checking your owner’s manual to look for the ethanol content that’s allowed in gasoline,” he said. “There should be a separate line that tells you how much ethanol the gasoline you selected can have.”

The unleaded 88 or E15 blend is not for use in motorcycles, vehicles with heavy-duty engines, boats, off-road vehicles and vehicles older than 2001.

The E85 blend, however requires a flex fuel vehicle in order to use it.

According to Sheetz, E85 contains more ethanol (51%-83%) and is not compatible with all vehicles. It is designed specifically for flexible fuel vehicles or FFVs. FFVs can use regular gasoline (E10), E15 or E85. When available, E85 is clearly designated as a different fuel type and should not be used in standard vehicles. Owner’s should check their owner’s manual to see if their car is able to run with E85.

“You’ve got to be aware of what you’re filling up with — the pros and cons,” De Haan added. “Again, the auto manufacturer built the automobile. I always check with them.”

A total of 349 of Altoona-based Sheetz’s 650 locations carry the unleaded 88, which is selling for $3.99 per gallon and the E85, which is selling for $3.49 per gallon through the July 4 period.

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