ETHANOL 101: 4 Main Problems with Ethanol fuels

In AZ, especially, there is a seasonality with Ethanol additives to gasoline fuels. The winter season air quality is the primary driver. Although the signage will typically indicate “10% Ethanol”, in fact, that percentage can legally range from 8% to 13%…in small engine carburation this represents a huge swing, potentially impacting performance.

Problem 1: Debris in Fuel
Gumming forms quickly in the fuel tank and delivery systems as ethanol fuel ages. But because ethanol is also a powerful solvent, this build up is stripped, dispersed and then moves back into the fuel as larger, “bogging” particles. This leads to clogged filters, injectors and carburetors.

Problem 2: Extra water in the fuel and phase separation
Ethanol attracts moisture from the atmosphere (think winter rains and monsoon weather esp.) which forms an ethanol/water solution mixed in the fuel. Although there is a suspension of the mixture with a functioning threshold, if additional moisture is present or the fuel cools quickly, that water/ethanol mix drops out of suspension (also known as phase separation). This separation causes a variety of aggravating symptoms and problems including: engines running rough, stalling, and potentially leading to internal damage to engine components. Ethanol is touted for providing a significant amount of the fuel’s octane, so when separation happens and the water/ethanol drop to the bottom of the tank, the remaining fuel mixture may not have enough octane to properly operate the engine.

Problem 3: Ethanol fuels break down rapidly
Over a short period of time (especially in the tiny amounts with motorcycle carbs, fuel pumps, and delivery systems) ethanol fuel begins to break down. As ethanol and other fuel components evaporate, the fuel loses octane. This causes hard starts, pinging and engine knocks…all of this is robbing your engine of power with potential for engine damage.

Problem 4: Altogether…Ethanol causes lost power, reduced engine performance and decreased fuel economy
Ethanol fuel does not produce as much energy as traditional fuel. This results in inefficient combustion, decreased performance, reduced throttle response and lowered fuel economy.

Star Tron fuel treatment is the notable industry leader and educator regarding the impact of Ethanol fuels on engines including trucks, boats, tractors, recreational vehicles, motorcycles and motorscooters. It is an all-season, all-purpose additive and is safe for use in all 2 and 4-cycle engines, especially in ethanol fuels. There are other products that deliver similar improvements. We use these additives in Service at Scoot Over and work to educate our customers on best care practices for engine longevity and happy riding.