"With the approaching boating season, I am concerned about using gasoline that contains up to 10% ethanol. My boats as well as most boats out there were never designed to run on ethanol. The way this alcohol-blended fuel attracts water and destroys fuel systems and sometimes engines is a real concern. Since I do not live near a marina that sells ethanol-free fuel I must buy from local gas stations. Is there an additive that will protect my marine engine as well as my lawn mower from the corrosive effects of ethanol?
I will look for your response in the Dayton Daily News' Wheels section of the Saturday paper."
Thanks for writing. Using gasoline containing up to 10% ethanol should not be a concern if certain precautions are taken. You are correct that ethanol can and does absorb moisture and when that happens, the mixture drops to the bottom of the fuel tank. Then if this water/alcohol mix is drawn into the engine, the engine will not run correctly and may not even start. Ethanol is not as corrosive as methanol which is highly corrosive and not usually added to gasoline. Ethanol is the same alcohol found in beer, wine and distilled spirits and is "denatured" usually using gasoline to make it undrinkable. Here are some things you can do to help avoid potential problems:
1. Always purchase fuel from a busy station to help insure that the fuel is fresh and has not been in underground tank for a long period. The life of gasoline is generally considered to be 90 days unless treated.
2. Use a fuel stabilizer in every tank to help prevent the phase separation which is what occurs when water and alcohol mix and the then drops to the bottom of the tank. Always follow the instructions on the container and do not use more or less than the specified amount.
3. At the end of the season, I recommend keeping the tank full of treated fuel which prevents air and moisture from entering the fuel tank.
4. Start every season with fresh and treated fuel.
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