Choosing the correct fuel additive for winterizing
August 22, 2013
Filed under Archives
With changes in fuel blends over the last several years, dealers need to pay more attention than ever to the fuel additives they sell and use when servicing customers’ boats at haul out time.
Ethanol gasoline blends and ultra-low sulfur diesel requires a multi-functional fuel additive to keep fuel “fresh” and protect the engine over the winter, a departure from just a few years ago when a simple single-function stabilizer would get the job done.
In the case of E10 – the 10 percent ethanol blend that makes up much of the country’s fuel supply – dealers need to look for a multi-function additive that includes a stabilizer, a corrosion inhibitor, a moisture dispersant that holds the moisture in suspension to help prevent phase separation and a detergent that will block deposits forming in the engine.
Corrosion is the biggest concern with ethanol blends, because ethanol can hold up to four times as much moisture as traditional gasoline. While bad fuel or phase separation can be a nuisance, it can be fairly easily solved by simply replacing the fuel. Corrosion, on the other hand, can lead to engine failure.
It is essentially the same situation with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Less stable than the older diesel fuels, it goes bad more quickly, holds more water and can cause corrosion.Additives used for diesel fuel also need to be “multifunctional” and contain a biocide that will prevent or kill bacteria, corrosion inhibitor, detergent and cetane improver.
The biggest problem for a dealer choosing an additive, whether it’s to sell in the retail store or to use in the service department, is that there are no specifications for marine fuel additives.
“It’s kind of a ‘buyer beware’ situation,” said Jerry Nessenson, president of ValvTect Petroleum Products, which supplies both marine fuel and marine fuel additives and private labels additives for engine manufacturers. “The ethanol situationcreated such a huge market for fuel additives that all kinds of companies came out of the woodwork, came up with all kinds of different products and made all kinds of unsupported claims. Most of those products were never tested to prove performance or that they would not harm engines when used over a long period of time.”
The good news is that marine engine makers and additive manufacturers are working together with the National Marine Manufacturers Association to develop a specification for marine grade fuel additives, similar to the successful NMMA specifications for 2- and 4-cycle marine motor oils. The NMMA certification will set requirements for testing of additives. It will help dealers and consumers sort through the assortment of additives on the market by delivering an NMMA seal of approval.
In the meantime, there are steps a dealer can take to help decide which additive to sell or use in their service department. They should find out if it contains the necessary components outlined above – corrosion inhibitor, moisture dispersant, stabilizer, detergent, biocide, etc. Most importantly, dealers should ask how the additive is tested and does the testing meet ASTM and the proposed NMMA certification specifications
Finally, be leery of any promises made by an additive supplier that sound too good to be true, such as that the product “restores bad or phase separated fuel” or can “solve E15 problems.”
“There aren’t any additives on the market that can preventE15 caused engine damage, restore bad fuel or safely restore ethanol-blended fuel that has phase separated,” Nessenson said. “The engines you save might be your customers.”