It's that time of year again, the weather has broken and boaters are getting their boats out for the first time this season. Many are having problems with their engine; won't start, idles poorly or not at all, mostly because ethanol has raised it's ugly head.
Several years ago Congress and the EPA decided that we needed to start using ethanol to boost octane in gasoline because the chemical used previously was linked to causing cancer. The use of ethanol is gasoline has many issues related to it; less power, less fuel economy, higher food and fuel costs but when it comes to boat motors, the biggest problem is phase separation. Phase separation in laymen terms is unblending of the fuel, like your ice tea when it sits in the glass melting. Dark on top, light on the bottom. When this occurs from sitting the ethanol absorbs water, the octane in the fuel drops as much as 20% and it creates an acid that eat aluminum. By the way, most of your engine is made of aluminum. Ethanol also eats the rubber components in the fuel system, causing primer bulbs and fuel lines to break up and clog other components in the fuel system. Sometimes costing hundreds of dollars in repair costs. None of this is good for you or your boat.
The morel of the story is, if your boat has been sitting since last summer, take a fuel sample or take it to a service center to have the fuel checked out before you try to take it to the water. Doing this will save you time and possibly a lot of money. The alternative is to gamble and hope that ethanol doesn't raise it's ugly head.