Now that the federal government is allowing the sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, boat owners will have to check fuel-pump labels carefully to be sure the gas they use does not contain more than 10 percent ethanol.
"Do everything within your power to know what kind of fuel you are using," says David Meeler, Yamaha product marketing information manager. "All the current marine engines out there are designed to run up to 10 percent ethanol blend. Anything over that and you probably want to find yourself a different gas station."
More on ethanol
The Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 13 waived a limitation on selling fuel that is more than 10 percent ethanol for model-year 2007 and newer cars and light trucks. The waiver is not an effort to require the use of E15, but it could create confusion among the owners of boats and other non-road vehicles and lead to misfueling, says Mat Dunn, legislative director of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
"A partial waiver is a guarantee that misfueling of boat and other non-road engines will occur and it will push E15 into many markets, which means trouble," Dunn says.
E15 can only be sold at pumps that are clearly marked, according to the EPA.
In addition to doing their best to avoid E15, boat owners can opt to fill their tanks with ValvTect gasoline, which the company says is "specially formulated" to prevent ethanol problems.
"It is my understanding that E15 will not be mandated - it will be a choice," ValvTect Petroleum Products president Jerry Nessenson says. "We are going to make sure the [ValvTect] additive that will treat the gasoline will be compatible, regardless of whether it's a non-ethanol gasoline, E10 or E15. We don't see that being a problem."
Another way to help guard against the problems ethanol causes - valve and piston failure and the gumming up of fuel lines, for example - is to add fuel stabilizer and conditioner to the tank every time the boat is fueled and before seasonal layup. Star brite and Sta-Bil say their products can treat and stabilize E15.
"During the test process before the product came out, we conducted all sorts of tests with the different grades of [ethanol blend] gasoline," says Matt Brown, sales manager for Sta-Bil's marine products. "There are 200 to 250 fuel formulas, based on where you are in the country. We tested with everything - all the way up to E85."
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