Fall is officially here, which means that here in the Midwest, winter isn’t far behind. The beginning of cooler weather means it’s just about the end of boating and motorcycle season. As a part of preparing your boat for winter, you’ll need to consider what you’ll do with the ethanol-blended fuel you have in your vehicle. If you fail to manage your fuel correctly, there’s a chance you could do some significant damage to your engine.

Here’s some information from our marina in Fenton, MI that you should take into account.

Risks of ethanol

Ethanol that is used in gasoline that gets stored for long periods of time can do some significant damage to boat and motorcycle engines, especially when you consider how long those vehicles tend to sit without use during the offseason. This is because of a process called “phase separation.” As the fuel sits unused for long periods of time, the mixture tends to come apart, which results in a corrosive water-soaked ethanol mixture sitting at the very bottom of the gas tank.

In a survey issued by the Boat Owners Association of the United States, more than half of respondents said they have had to replace or repair a fuel system or parts of their boat engine because of damage they suspected to be related to ethanol. On average, these repairs cost $1,000.

To better prevent ethanol problems from becoming an issue during winter storage, any boat that has a built-in gas tank should have fuel stabilizer added into the tank, with the tank being left close to full. Any E10 fuel that’s left in small, portable gas tanks that has not been pre-mixed with two-stroke engine oil should be poured into your car’s gas tank instead, and then used quickly.

Many prefer non-ethanol fuel

According to that same Boat Owners Association survey, about 91 percent of boat owners surveyed prefer using non-ethanol fuel for their boats. About 78 percent of all respondents said they had concerns about using E15 fuel, and 70 percent opposed increasing the amount of ethanol used in fuel.

This isn’t particularly surprising—in addition to the potential problems associated with storing ethanol over the winter, fuel that’s been blended with ethanol is worse for the environment. Production of ethanol requires 220 times the amount of water used in production of gasoline.

So why exactly is ethanol so common in gasoline today? This is primarily because of a law that was signed in 2005 and expanded in 2007—the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires increasing amounts of biofuels to be blended into gasoline. Unfortunately, the legislation has not produced the environmental benefits initially promised at the time the legislation was passed. Congress has considered bipartisan legislation to repeal the ethanol regulations, but it is doubtful there will be a resolution there any time soon.

For more information about winterizing a boat that uses ethanol-blended fuel, contact Lake Ponemah Marina in Fenton, MI today. We look forward to assisting you soon with all of your boat-related needs!