Most marine businesses are experiencing engine damage and other issues due to ethanol in the fuel supply, raising increased concerns about the growing use of E15.
Boating Industry surveyed readers of our print and digital editions about service department and warranty issues, including ethanol, in April. Respondents were a mix of dealers, manufacturers, marina owners and others.
(See the full results of our survey in the June issue of Boating Industry.)
The vast majority of respondents reported seeing engine damage from ethanol, with 73 percent saying they’ve experienced it in their business. That number rises to 80 percent when we look at just dealers and marina/boatyard owners.
And it’s not a small portion of the engine work they’re seeing, either. Of those that have seen ethanol damage in their business, 14 percent say ethanol is responsible for more than half of the engine repairs they make. More than 60 percent say it causes more than 20 percent of the engine damage they experience.
While many marinas carry ethanol-free fuel, many consumers fill up at roadside stations – about two-thirds, a recent survey of BoatUS members found. At most stations, that is a 10 percent ethanol blend. That’s a level of ethanol that new engines can handle if run and cared for properly, but that does nothing about the large number of legacy engines out there.
Now, with 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) on the horizon, there is even more reason for concern. While not widely available across most of the country, it is spreading, especially in the Midwest.
Nearly 75 percent are very concerned about the use of E15 in the fuel supply and 93 percent described themselves as at least somewhat unconcerned. Only 7 percent aren’t worried about it.
Warranty work a challenge
While not related to ethanol directly, we also asked readers about their experience with warranty claims in the survey.
Overall, the majority of respondents — 64 percent — said they haven’t seen a change in warranty claims over the last year. Twenty-two percent said they are seeing more warranty claims and 14 percent said they are seeing fewer.