Don’t Get the Ethanol Blues!

Whether we like it or not, ethanol fuel is here to stay. In our cars and trucks it’s not a major problem because we run a lot of fuel through the engine on a regular basis. But the engines in our boats are used infrequently and this is where the problem starts. Ethanol fuel does not age well and this causes poor performance and other engine related problems such as blockage of carburetors and other fuel system components. This can cause a rough running engine and even engine damage!

Then to make matters worse, ethanol has an affinity for absorbing water from the air. The water starts to collect inside your fuel tank and eventually, though an action called “phase separation”, the water separates from the fuel and sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank. As our boat engines cannot run on water the engine starts to run poorly and even stops. This can ruin your fun day on the lake!

So what do we do to avoid the ethanol blues? The best way to avoid ethanol problems is to use non-ethanol fuel. Alas, we cannot always obtain it. Keep your fuel fresh and try not to store any more fuel in the tank than you safely need. Add a good quality marine fuel stabilizer at the correct ratio all year round. This will help keep the water absorbed by the ethanol suspended and will stop the fuel from deteriorating quite as rapidly. Amsoil Quickshot works very well. Your last line of defense is a good water separating fuel filter. Many inboard and stern-drive engines already have one of these installed. The replaceable filter element must be changed at least once a year to be effective.

So how safe and ethanol proof is your fuel system? Sterling Aero Marine Services can inspect your boat’s complete fuel system for you, including (where accessible) fuel tank, fuel filler, fuel vent and the fuel feed line to the engine. We can also replace the filter element on any installed fuel filter. If you do not have a water separating fuel filter installed, we can install a new inline filter with a replaceable filter element.

Gasoline can be extremely dangerous in boats, but if contained in a well maintained fuel system, it can be used very safely. So make an appointment to get a Sterling Aero Marine Services, American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) certified marine technician to inspect your fuel system today!