Over the last several weeks, we have seen an escalation in repairs caused by fuel additives. Often these are dangerous and costly problems which have included pinholes in the fuel lines allowing fuel to spray over the engine. We have also seen hose interiors dissolve into a tar-like substance, seized fuel pumps, and greatly swollen o-rings and diaphragms. We have, on occasion, seen a caramel-like substance ¼” – ½” thick on the bottom of fuel tanks.
At this time we have very few facts as to what you, the boat/pontoon owner, or Marsh Brothers can do to prevent these fuel problems. The one fact that we do know is that the freshness of your gasoline is critical. Ethanol attracts water and the longer that you keep the fuel, the more time it has to “pull” water into your tank. This condition of excessive water, ethanol, and gasoline create a reaction called “phase separation”. This water, ethanol, and gas mixture forms a very aggressive substance that can pit aluminum.
Unfortunately, most metal components of your engine are aluminum. We, therefore, highly recommend that you use your fuel up in two weeks! It is in your best interest to store your vessel with as little fuel as possible. Try to use up your vessel’s fuel supply to bring it down to a minimum level before having it picked up this fall.
We have had service representatives from Johnson/Evinrude and Suzuki engine companies in our facility to inspect the damaged components. They have collected fuel hoses and fuel samples for their testing. Our facility has asked our state representative, Bruce Caswell, for help in this serious matter. He has put me in contact with the State of Michigan Motor fuels Quality Section. Their investigator has obtained samples from our facility. We are also in the process of filing complaints with the safety division of the
U.S. Coast Guard. We are working aggressively with our engine suppliers on these issues and on revised winterization procedures to minimize the effects of ethanol on stored engines. For further information, we have several magazine/newspaper articles on the ethanol problem at our
front counter. You may also go to Google or Yahoo on your computer and search for “phase separation in marine engines” or “fuel quality problems in outboards”.
Marsh Brothers - Pontoon Specialists
9800 Youngs Road, Quincy, Michigan 49082
PH: (517) 869-2653 or (800) 701-8419