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Do You Know What's in the Gas You're Pumping into Your Marine Engine?

Last updated 6 years ago

As the demand for gasoline continues to rise, prices are soaring and purity is declining.  You probably already know about the octane rating at each pump, which typically ranges from the percentages in the 80s (regular unleaded) to 90s (premium).  What you might not have noticed is the changing ethanol content on each label. 

Ethanol is produced from corn, which can be grown cheaply, domestically, and in abundance.  Coupled with the high demand for fuel, gasoline-ethanol hybrids have become ubiquitous.  In 2010, almost all gasoline sold in the United States was actually “gasohol” containing up to 10% ethanol.  Here in Florida, laws were passed that mandated the use of ethanol in all standard retail gasoline.  If you’re a boat owner, then this isn’t exactly good news. 

Ethanol is a cleaner burning fuel, but it’s also less efficient and possesses some different chemical properties than your average fossil fuels.  The most problematic of which is water absorption.  Ethanol and other oxygenates absorb water 50 times faster than pure gas.  Since boat engines are constantly exposed to water and humid air, water absorption poses a serious threat.   Using reformulated gasoline in your boat will cause a decrease in performance and other mechanical issues.  Here are some tips to avoid ethanol related problems on your boat: 

  • Avoid using gasoline containing ethanol or other chemical oxygen additives; find a marina that offers ethanol-free fuel.
  • When storing your boat for long durations, keep the tank either completely empty or completely full.
  • Regularly tune the engine.
  • Check hoses that can deteriorate from alcohol-oxygenated fuels, especially on older boats.
  • Ethanol also acts a degreaser, which can allow water to clog the carburetor and fuel filter.  Have these parts checked often to ensure optimal functioning.
  • Use a water-separating fuel filter.
  • Check the seals on the gas cap to make sure excess water doesn’t seep in. 

There’s nothing better than taking your boat out on the open sea.  Protect your investment by using ethanol-free gasoline.  For information on maintenance, storage, or where to buy the right gas for your boat, give us a call at Boat Tree Marina at (888) 485-9883.


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