BoatUS warns of damage ethanol blended fuel can cause in stored boats

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — Margaret Podlich, president of the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS), issued a warning to boat owners who, with the coming of winter, might not be using their boats for long periods of time.

Podlich said in a release it is important in preparing boats for storage to manage the potential for engine damage from the federally-mandated ethanol blend in our nation’s gasoline supply.

Ethanol in gasoline stored for long periods can damage marine engines. So called “phase separation” in ethanol blended fuel can leave a corrosive water-soaked ethanol mixture at the bottom of the gas tank. Half of the respondents to a recent BoatUS survey reported that they have had to replace or repair their boat engine or fuel system due to suspected ethanol-related damage, costing an average $1,000 for repairs, she said. 

To prevent ethanol problems during storage boats with built-in gas tanks should have fuel stabilizer added and the tank left nearly full. E10 fuel remaining in small portable gas tanks (and not pre-mixed with 2-stroke engine oil) can be poured into your car’s gas tank and used quickly, Podlich said.

Ethanol has been blended into the nation’s gasoline supply since the Renewable Fuel Standard was signed into law in 2005 and expanded in 2007. The law requires that an increasing amount of biofuels such as corn ethanol be blended into the gasoline supply. However the ethanol mandate has failed to achieve promised consumer and environmental benefits, BoatUS said.

Podlich said the Environmental Protection Agency ignores the public’s concerns and continues to increase the amount of ethanol required to be blended in our nation’s gas. Even though it’s illegal to use E15 (15 percent ethanol by volume) in marine engines, snowmobiles, motorcycles, lawnmowers, and any vehicle made before 2001, it can now be found in 24 states. Using E15 in many vehicles on the road today will void the manufacturer’s warranty.

With a recent $100 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant made available to subsidize the installation of blender pumps at gas stations throughout the country, access to ethanol-free gas may soon be more difficult, leading to even more cases of inadvertent misfueling and engine damage.

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