Fuel Phase Separation is when ethanol bonds with moisture in your fuel system and then sinks to the bottom of your boat’s fuel tank, ‘separates from the fuel’. The new ethanol fuels are killing our outboard motors. Once Phase Separation happens, when you crank your engine you are sucking ethanol and water into your system before fuel. That along with the way alcohol breaks down rubber components, it’s only a matter of time before a motor is destroyed if you don’t take action NOW!
About 6 months ago I had an idle sputter, nothing major, figured it was time for plugs. So I took the boat to my local mechanic, and he changed the plugs and fuel filters for me and told me that they looked fine, and it probably wasn’t the cause of my problem. “What’s the problem, then?” He said he checked my fuel tank, and I had 17% ethanol; he was surprised I was running at all.
I proceeded to explain to him that I make sure to use fuel that was labeled less than 10%. So, were they lying or do they have an issue with their storage tanks. He said, “Neither, Ethanol will build up over time in your boats fuel tank”.
I fish 4-5 times a week and go through a lot of fuel; there is no way I get any kind of build up in my tanks? He asked, “Do you run them empty every time?” and of course I answered “No, but pretty close sometimes!”
The ethanol and water mixture is much heavier than fuel and once separated will not mix back in the fuel. After traveling to a lake or running a lake, it only takes just a few minutes for the ethanol water mixture to settle back to the bottom of your tank.
The Fix? Well some of you are not going to like this, and I’d rather not debate anything other than if it works. My mechanic said to run Chevron fuel with Techron. He says the Techron keeps the molecules stirred up and doesn’t allow this harmful mixture to settle. It doesn’t remove it but does prevent mass doses to your engine and over time will allow you to get the majority of it out of your tank. Once you have cleaned the tank, find a gas station that doesn’t use ethanol and/or use a fuel additive recommended by your outboards manufacturer.
And yes it worked. After getting the boat back on the water, I was still having the minor sputter. Three fill ups with Chevron fuel and I’m running like a top again, and my fuel tank checked at only a couple percent. I use Mercury Quick Kleen; it seems to do very well at keeping things stirred up. Also, Quick Kleen prevents carbon build up, leaving no place for the ethanol and water to grab a hold of in your motor, thus preventing further build up and corrosion.
No matter what motor you run, save yourself thousands of dollars in repair costs. Reduce the ethanol in your fuel system, and then run an additive that helps prevent future build up. There is a good article in the April issue of Bassmaster Magazine titled “Death by Ethanol” it’s a good read and explains some things better than I can. Bottom line, this is an issue and it’s only going to get worse as manufacturers put more ethanol in the fuels. As outboard owners, we have to pay very close attention to this or your mechanic will be very happy with you!
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