As boaters, we have been hearing about the dangers of ethanol to our outboard engines for years, and the truth is that it is a real problem. Ethanol appears to be here for good.
But, the addition of ethanol to our gasoline is not a new trend. The first ethanol-blended gasoline occurred in the 1920s in an attempt to boost octane, and it also served as a wartime solution to preserve fuel. More recently, it became even more widespread as 2005 was the year that new a law and corresponding policies came into play.
The Renewable Fuels Standard included provisions that gradually increased the number of gallons of renewable fuel to be used in America, and it is set to top out at 36 billion gallons annually by 2022.
Ethanol is not going anywhere, and it can significantly damage engines, including the outboard that powers your boat. Here is a little more information about ethanol, what you can do to combat it, as well as some tips from major outboard manufacturers.
The Dangers of Ethanol
A quick internet search of outboards and the dangers of ethanol will pull up a host of articles and informational resources from some of the biggest names in boating. BoatUS, Yamaha Outboards, Mercury Marine, and other leaders in the boating industry all weigh in on the dangers of this alternative fuel. The consensus is that it is not good for outboard engines if nothing is done to minimize the risk.
A straightforward option to avoiding the dangers of ethanol in your gasoline is to seek out ethanol-free gas. This is often easier said than done as not every gas station carries the gas, and when they do, it is usually much more expensive.
The easiest way to take matters into your own hands is to add a product like Lucas Safeguard™ Ethanol Fuel Conditioner with Stabilizers.
What is Lucas Safeguard™ Ethanol Fuel Conditioner with Stabilizers?
Lucas Oil is a leader when it comes to oils, additives, and anything else that can help make your engines of any type run better. Their ethanol solution was established to address problems that come with ethanol-based fuels.
Their website says this product is specially designed for E-10, E-15, E-85, pure ethanol, and any mixture or combination of those blends of fuel. It is soluble with all of these products and will also not harm fuel filters.
These are the key benefits, according to their website lucasoil.com.
- Cleans injectors, valve seats, combustion chambers, and other critical fuel components.
- Stabilizes fuel and prevents varnish and gum formation in ethanol and gasoline.
- Combats deposits and protects your engine oil lubricants from the harmful effects of alcohol combustion.
It is available in three sizes: 2-ounce, 5.25-ounce, and 16-ounce bottles. One ounce of the product will treat five gallons of gasoline, and it is approved for both automotive and marine uses.
What Outboard Brands Say
Two of the biggest names in outboards, Yamaha and Mercury, have resources dedicated to helping boaters avoid problems with ethanol fuels.
Yamaha shared some tips on their website.
- One is to use a fuel/water-separating filter that has the proper flow rating for that engine.
- Another is to use an internal engine cleaner to keep the entire fuel system clean.
- The third recommendation is to purchase gasoline where they sell it frequently as they state that ethanol-based fuels have a short shelf life and start to deteriorate almost immediately.
- Their final tip is to add a quality fuel stabilizer and conditioner to every tank of fuel, as this can help to reduce the dangers of ethanol.
Mercury also has a host of resources dedicated to ethanol-related questions on their website and state that they are continually using their team of engineers to learn about the dangers of ethanol in their outboards. Their “Fuel & Fuel System FAQs” answers many questions about ethanol and is an excellent resource for Mercury Outboard owners.
One of their FAQs directly relates to ethanol in their outboards and whether or not it will void the engine warranty. They respond that up to 10 percent ethanol is acceptable, but “the use of fuels containing ethanol higher than 10 percent can void the warranty.” This statement is telling about the dangers of ethanol. It is also something to keep an eye on in case the ethanol blends inside of our gasoline raises any further.
Doing what you can to prevent ethanol for harming your engine requires a few additional steps, but it can help to make sure you can spend more time on the water.