Anaheim (CA) - Anyone with a few hundred bucks and basic mechanic skills can convert their cars into flexible fuel vehicles in about 20 minutes. This is according to representatives of Full Flex International which sells drop-in conversion kits that let cars run on both ethanol and gasoline. The kits piggyback on top of the fuel injector computers.
Company representatives showed us the kit at the Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Expo in Anaheim California. The kit is a small box with connectors that plug in-line between the fuel injectors and the car’s computer unit. There is also a connector to the car battery. According to Alex Conger, CEO of Full Flex , little mechanical skill is required and that the installation takes about 15 to 20 minutes. He added, “If you can change your own spark plug or oil, you can install our kit.”
The Full Flex tricks the car’s computer into holding the fuel injectors open for a little bit longer when using ethanol. The extra time is needed because ethanol has different burn characteristics than regular gasoline. After installation, users can run either ethanol E85, E100 or regular gasoline in the same tank. No switches need to be set and the computer recognizes both fuels on the fly.
Conger told us that customers can use a custom still to make their own ethanol. By dumping in some water, corn and sugar people can churn out around 5 to 10 gallons of ethanol per hour at $1.00 to $1.25 a gallon.
Conger told us that their kit allows people to inexpensively convert to a flexible fuel vehicle. “You can pay a couple hundred dollars for our kit and install it yourself or spend $40K for a regular flex fuel vehicle,” said Conger.
The Full Flex kit is currently available for four, six and eight cylinder engines for around $300 to $510.
Update - 2:00 PM PST
A few readers have concerns about the corrosive effects of ethanol in the fuel lines, but Full Flex engineers told us that the risk is a myth. According to Dan Lorenzo of Full Flex, it would take "decades" for the rubber hoses to corrode through because of the ethanol. He added that corrosion was a big problem in the 1970s when gasohol was first introduced because rubber hoses back then were not treated with PTFE (Teflon).
Of course if you are truly concerned about conversion, you can always convert all the rubber hoses to ethanol-rated stainless steel hoses.