Forget to "Winterize" Your Fuel?
courtesy of Seaworthy Damage Avoidance Program

winterize your fuelWith E10 gasoline, special care needs to be taken before storing it for the winter. Manufacturers strongly recommend either emptying the tanks completely or topping them up and adding stabilizer for the winter. So what do you do if you forgot?

First, determine if there is water in the fuel. Pump a small amount out of the bottom of the tank into a glass jar or clear plastic bottle using a hand pump or a large baster (don’t use an electric pump to do the job – a small spark can lead to an explosion). Let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes. If clear water or a cloudy layer settles out of the gasoline, then it has become contaminated with water, and the water/ethanol mixture has settled out in a process called phase separation.

Don’t try using the gasoline if it shows signs of water contamination or phase separation. You can dispose of small amounts by taking it to your county’s household hazardous waste collection. Google your county and household hazardous waste, and you’ll find the relevant information. For amounts over ten gallons or so, your only option will be to pay your boatyard to dispose of it.

If you see no signs of water and the fuel appears close to colorless and smells normal, go ahead and run it through your engine after going through the normal spring commissioning and changing all the filters. For small amounts of gasoline, it’s worth pouring it through a coffee filter into a new container to be absolutely sure there are no contaminants before using it. If your engine shows any signs of hard starting or difficulty in running, dispose of the fuel, change the filters again, and switch to fresh gasoline.

When it comes time to winterize the boat next year, don’t forget about your gasoline. Top off the tank and add a good fuel stabilizer (one recommended by your engine manufacturer). Run the engine for ten minutes to distribute the stabilized fuel through the engine and fuel lines. Make sure the seals in the filler cap are still intact, the cap is closed tightly, and the vent for the tank is not blocked. Then you can rest easy knowing that in the spring your fuel will still be usable.

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