If you’re hunting down non-ethanol gas stations, consider this first: ethanol fuel burns cleaner and more efficiently and helps increase octane.

While the water-attracting alcohol in these blended fuels can lead to potential problems, they’re easy to prevent. All it takes is some basic knowledge about what’s going into your fuel tank.

What is ethanol?

Ethanol is the same alcohol used in alcoholic beverages, but with water removed so it’s suitable for blending with gasoline. It helps increase octane and burn fuel more efficiently.

Why is ethanol added to fuel?

Refiners have added ethanol to fuel for years because it burns cleaner than pure gas. Now, federal regulations are requiring them to use increasing amounts of ethanol to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Most U.S. gasoline now contains a blend of up to 10% ethanol (E10 fuel), but newer automobiles are being advertised as capable of using up to 15% ethanol (E15 fuel).

What problems can be caused by ethanol in gasoline?

The effects of ethanol in gasoline

Although these blended fuels burn cleaner than pure gasoline, the ethanol absorbs moisture from the air. Over time, that water can separate and drop, along with ethanol, to the bottom of your fuel tank. This is when problems like corrosion, stalling and engine damage start.

What should I do about it?

Ethanol isn’t a problem for cars and trucks that are used daily, especially if you use an ethanol additive, treatment or a fuel stabilizer at every fill up to remove water and keep gas fresh.

It’s another story when it comes to ethanol treatment for the fuel systems in boats, snowmobiles, ATVs, motorcycles and small engine outdoor power equipment that sits idle for long periods of time.

No, you don’t need to hunt down ethanol-free gas in your area. Just two steps are all that’s needed to prevent costly engine repairs.

Step 1: Keep the tank as full as possible.

Moisture condenses in the empty space in the tank, so reducing the amount of air decreases the amount of water that can enter.

While many manufacturers recommend draining all gasoline, it’s nearly impossible to completely empty a built-in tank. Instead, top off the tank to 95% full (to allow for expansion and minimize explosive vapors) and use a gas treatment or fuel stabilizer.

Step 2: Use an ethanol treatment or fuel additive.

These products are designed to help offset the effects of moisture in today’s ethanol blended fuels. For boats and jet skis, it’s important to use a product that’s specially formulated for marine conditions.

Still considering using 100% gas? Head on over to the STA-BIL Brand Facebook page and let us know what other ethanol concerns you have.

Categories: Fuel Tips


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