Use Caution with Ethanol

Use Caution with Ethanol
by SDC Staff Writer




It has been widely reported in magazines and the internet about the dangers of burning Ethanol Fuel in your boat engine.



Caution is the best word to live by. Ethanol is a solvent, degreaser, cleanser and antifreeze. Ethanol is also hydroscopic (absorbs water).

Consumer Reports® indicates that when it comes to Ethanol use in marine engines to read your manufacturers operations manual and pick up a fuel testing kit.


Engines that were manufactured before 2003 should not use fuel with Ethanol.


There are misconceptions that the greater the octane rating the fuel has the greater the horsepower. Octane ratings are only a measure of the fuel’s tendency to burn in a controlled manner. Rather than exploding in an uncontrolled manner. Where octane is raised by blending in Ethanol, energy content per volume is reduced.


Most engine manufacturers recommend using a minimum octane rating with a maximum of 10% Ethanol added. Some manufacturers will void their warranty if it is an alcohol related failure.


What does Ethanol do to your engine? Alcohol is incompatible with rubber and some plastics. They react and cause swelling and over time. Oxygen breaks down the carbon-carbon bonds causing parts to fail.


According to a report by Reuters news agency, Ethanol sales in the United States are expected to rise to 13.95 billion gallons in 2011. So the chances that your recreational engine will be exposed to Ethanol are almost inevitable.


The best defense is to educate yourself on available fuels in your area. Test kits will help you avoid possible costly damage due to Ethanol in your fuel.

What about additives? It gets very complicated. It would seem that there is no silver bullet out there yet. We recommend that you research the product before you use it.


New engines are manufactured with Ethanol in mind. Fuel systems are being built to withstand alcohol’s corrosive effects.

To help ensure a long and trouble free life to your recreational engine, read and follow the manufacturer’s suggestions. Make sure you store your engines properly. Check the recommendations on fuel additives and stabilizing agents.


Talk with your local dealer; they are a great resource for information. They can advise you on the proper care and maintenance of your recreational motor.


Staff Writer for See Dealer Cost™ your premier online source for marine, power sports and recreational vehicle research.