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Ethanol Fuels

Because of ethanol’s clean air and clean water benefits many boaters don’t realize the dangers lurking behind using this fuel in marine engines. Although we have no choice in the matter, there are precautions that can be taken to help minimize damage. First I will go over the problems with ethanol use in marine engines and then we’ll talk about things that can be done to minimize problems with its use.

Although ethanol is damaging to car engines as well as marine engines, we don’t see as many problems using this type of fuel in vehicles because of the way the fuel is consumed. Usually the fuel in vehicles is used up rather quickly, whereas the fuel in marine engines is used slower and is left to sit in the tank for longer periods of time. When the fuel tank is left partially full, condensation is a common result. Since ethanol is a solvent, it attracts and attaches to the water and creates a sludge that clogs up fuel filters, carburetors and engine parts. In addition, since ethanol is a solvent, it also dissolves and removes components that have built up in the fuel tank and fuel lines and carries them to the fuel filter causing clogging issues. Hoses also can be damaged, becoming brittle or soft and deteriorate due to ethanol, which is an alcohol.

The technicians here at Kompletely Kustom Marine are well aware of the problems caused by using ethanol fuel. Some of our recommendations for minimizing problems from ethanol fuel use are as follows:

  • Keep your fuel tank full when your boat is not in use. This will help against condensation.
  • Keep up with maintenance – change fuel filters and keep carburetor clean.
  • Use a water-separating fuel filter to minimize water contamination.
  • Check hoses at least once a year and replace if there are any signs of deterioration.
  • Fill your boat up at the marina gas station as opposed to a car gas station. The marina will most likely have lower levels of ethanol in the gas – E10 instead of E15.

Although taking the above precautions will be beneficial in minimizing damage to your engine, Kompletely Kustom Marine goes a step further in helping you maintain optimum performance. KKM offers Sierra’s ethanol-resistant hoses and connectors and a full line of lubricant and fuel system additives to treat the fuel before problems arise. We also offer a high quality fuel/water separating filter by Sierra that is tested and proven to remove emulsified water and debris down to the 10-micron level.

Be sure to contact us to have one of our Kompletely Kustom technicians perform a diagnosis/ inspection of your vessel to keep you running at optimum performance this boating season. Also, we recommend that you check out our Monthly Maintenance Packages to help keep up with maintenance and catch any problems that might arise before they become larger, more serious matters.


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