BoatingLocal recently stopped in to chat with the outboard service technicians at Burr Brothers (a BoatingLocal sponsor) in Marion, Massachusetts, and came away with some great advice on how to avoid some potential headaches this season.
To start with, technicians Jeff Harrison, Jed Hoffer and Phil Batista all agree that water in the fuel is a major source of outboard problems. In fact, they were in the process of draining 90 gallons of bad gas from the fuel tank of a center console, which had somehow accumulated a large amount of water. The water had bonded with the ethanol in the gas and settled to the bottom of the tank, a process known as phase separation. The remaining gasoline could not be salvaged, as its octane level was now below the requirements of the engine.
Hoffer points out that water can enter the fuel system in many ways, so the boater needs to be vigilant about keeping it out.
Here are some simple ways to do this:
Each season, inspect the o-ring on your boat’s fill cap for signs of cracks or brittleness. Replace it if necessary.
- Keep the vent closed on a portable tank when not in use (just remember to open it when you start your engine).
- Test the integrity of your portable tank by closing the vent and tipping it upside down. If fuel leaks out, water can get in!
Inspect the gasket around the fuel pickup on your portable tank for signs of brittleness or damage.
- Inspect the fuel vent on the side of your boat. These vents can sometimes get turned upwards or be sheared off, allowing water (and insects) to enter the fuel system.
- If you don’t plan on using your boat for several weeks, keep the tank topped off to limit the amount of moisture that can condense from the trapped air. The next-best option is to completely drain the tank of gasoline.
Use the engine manufacturer’s recommended fuel stabilizer and treatment products. They can really make a difference—but don’t wait to use them until after you start experiencing problems!
- Replace your fuel-water separator filter after every 50 hours of use. Don’t reuse the filter once you’ve emptied it.
- • If you suspect water has entered the fuel tank, siphon off some fuel from the bottom of the tank and check it for water. If you detect water, take the boat to a pro to have the tank and fuel system drained.