Most boat fuel isn’t E-Z anymore

I’m lucky. My boat has thrived on an alcohol-rich diet – so far. There are no gas stations between my house and the places I normally launch that serve up E-Zero gasoline. E-Z sometimes called E-0 or just marine gas is the regular gasoline with no ethanol added. 

I fill up with E-10 each time I buy gas. 

Though I’ve not had any alcohol laden fuel problems, many boat owners have. The ethanol eats away at rubber and plastic parts in carburetors, hoses and other parts of the fuel system. Modern engines are supposed to be immune from this alcohol poisoning but it’s not 100 percent. That’s why many marinas and boaters who have access to a station offering E-Z gas pump nothing else.

Even if you have a brand new or almost new boat motor if you have E-10 (the most common blend of ethanol/gasoline) you can’t escape something called “phase separation.” Once it occurs the fuel in your tank separates into low octane E-Z floating on a corrosive, water-soaked ethanol mixture, unusable in any engine. Half of those who responded to a recent informal national survey by the Boat Owners Association of The United States said they have had to replace or repair boat engine or fuel system parts because of  ethanol-related damage. The average cost for these repairs was $1,000.

To meet federal mandates requiring fuel sellers to market specific quantities of ethanol each year, suppliers are now gearing up to pump E-15 into American gas tanks. No marine engine, old or new is designed to run on a 15-percent alcohol/gasoline blend. Neither are older cars, lawn mowers, ATVs or other gasoline powered equipment with small engines. 

However, America’s supply of E-Z is projected to be reduced dramatically from over 8 billion gallons in 2014 to just 200 million as early as this summer’s boating season. E-Z is in effect being pushed out of the marketplace to make room for the government mandated E-15 and other higher ethanol blends. 

It’s almost time to get ol’ Wavewhacker out of winter storage. Be doubly sure you read the labels on the gas pumps when you are fueling up this season.

Categories: Blog Content, MicBlogs, Michigan – Mike Schoonveld

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