The flex fuel sensor measures the ethanol-gasoline ratio of the fuel being used in a flexible fuel vehicle. Flexible fuel vehicles can be operated with a blend of ethanol and gasoline, up to 85 percent ethanol. In order to adjust the ignition timing and the fuel quantity to be injected, the engine management system requires information about the percentage of ethanol in the fuel.
The flex fuel sensor uses quick-connect style fuel connections, an incoming fuel connection, and an outgoing fuel connection. All fuel passes through the flex fuel sensor before continuing on to the fuel rail. The flex fuel sensor measures the fuel alcohol content, and sends an electrical signal to the engine control module (ECM) to indicate ethanol percentage.
The flex fuel sensor has a three-wire electrical harness connector. The three wires provide a ground circuit, a power source, and a signal output to the ECM. The power source is battery positive voltage and the ground circuit connects to an engine ground. The signal circuit carries the ethanol percentage via a frequency signal.
Alcohol content information is supplied to the ECM from the fuel composition sensor. The fuel composition sensor has a battery positive circuit, a signal circuit, and a ground circuit. The fuel composition sensor uses a microprocessor inside the sensor to measure the ethanol percentage and changes the output signal accordingly. The signal circuit carries the ethanol percentage via the frequency signal. The ECM provides an internal pull up to 5 V on the signal circuit, and the fuel composition sensor pulls the 5 V to ground in pulses. The normal range of operating frequency is between 50–150 Hz. The microprocessor inside the sensor is capable of a certain amount of self-diagnosis. An output frequency between 180 Hz and 190 Hz indicates that the fuel is contaminated.