By: American Ethanol
With snowmobile season kicking into high gear across many parts of the country, outdoorsmen are pulling their machines out of storage and getting them ready for another season exploring the backcountry. Unfortunately, there are persistent rumors swirling around that could mislead snowmobilers about fuel issues related to ethanol. Knowledge is power, so let’s examine a few of the more glaring myths around ethanol use and why it is safe to use in your small engine.
Myth: Any level of ethanol blended into gasoline is harmful to small engines.
Fact: Leading snowmobile manufacturers such as Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, Yamaha and Polaris all approve the use of fuel containing ethanol in their engines. An extensive amount of study has determined that E10, or fuel containing 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, is suitable for use in small engines such as those found in snowmobiles and outboard boat motors. After all, ethanol is already in 97 percent of gas sold in the United States, so most outdoorsmen are already using it issue-free without even realizing it.
Myth: Ethanol causes fuel to separate if it sits for an extended period of time.
Fact: Due to the fact that ethanol is water-soluble, it actually helps prevent phase separation. If a small amount of water finds its way into the fuel tank, as is common in small engines, ethanol allows it to be absorbed into the fuel mixture and pass harmlessly through the engine. West Marine states that this is actually a benefit of ethanol, not a drawback, as ethanol “…tends to keep low levels of water moving through the fuel system, keeping the system ‘dry.’” If a more significant amount of water is introduced into the fuel tank, inevitably problems will occur regardless of ethanol content. This is why outdoorsmen should top off their tanks before use to prevent condensation and ensure tanks are empty before storing vehicles for an extended period of time.