Our Northwest

Be wary of ethanol with classic cars, boats

Friday, March 29, 2013by  Jon Osterberg

Sunny spring weather lures shiny, classic cars outside – and soon after, pleasure boats, too.
   Before you top off your gas tank, pay attention to what comes out of the pump. If it’s an ethanol blend, pause and consider if it’s compatible with your motor.
   E15 – 15% ethanol, 85% gasoline – is approved for autos built since 2001. But it’s not approved for marine use, and over time it may ruin older car engines. An E10 10/90 blend of ethanol and gas is okay for some marine engines, but generally not for older vessels and two-stroke outboard engines.
   If you trailer your boat to fill up at a gas station, be alert for ethanol blends. If you fuel up at the dock, you probably don’t have to worry about it – marinas know all about ethanol and likely don’t sell E15 or E10.
   Older cars designed to run on leaded gas aren’t ideal for ethanol blends. Ethanol is an aggressive solvent that can dislodge fuel deposits and clog filters, and over time it can corrode unprotected steel fuel tanks and softer materials found on old cars like cork, rubber, neopreme, and silicone. But you can buy peace of mind with a little preventive maintenance. Many motorists swear by additives like Sta-Bil, which prevents corrosion and condensation and keeps blended fuels intact.
   Another way for boaters and classic-car owners to get peace of mind is to avoid blended fuel altogether. Although we can’t vouch for its accuracy, many rely on the pure-gas.org website, which lists gas stations in each state that sell only ethanol-free gasoline. 

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