A new Harris Poll shows that 51 percent of outdoor power equipment owners say they either don’t pay attention to or remain unsure of the type of fuel required for use in their engines.
The poll was conducted in January 2020 and commissioned by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, according to a report from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
I realize a survey of outdoor power equipment owners isn’t the same as a survey of boaters, but it still raises concern. On one level, I don’t want to see any boater’s engine damaged by using a fuel blended with too much ethanol. According to engine-makers, burning gasoline blended with more than 10 percent ethanol will likely damage your marine engine—and will definitely void your engine’s warranty.
On another level, I don’t want the reputation of the sport of boating besmirched with the unreliability label it once wore. Today’s marine engines prove quite reliable, which itself proves more important than even cost. (This is why a free boat often proves the most expensive.)
In some cases, high-ethanol fuel blends cost less, and that contributes to more use, but the survey also revealed that consumers may think any fuel sold is safe simply due to the fact that it is available for retail sale.
Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the OPEI, called fuel sellers out on the carpet for too-slick sales tactics. “Combine a consumer’s desire to save money with confusing pump labeling,” Kiser laments, “and add in disingenuous marketing for Octane 88, which is really 15 percent ethanol, or E15, and it’s no wonder these numbers are going up.”
Octane 88 is a trade name for E15, and some consumers see it as a better fuel than regular 87-octane gasoline, which contains up to only 10 percent ethanol (E10).
According to the NMMA, education on E15 at the gas pump is severely lacking. Across the country, labels are misplaced and inconsistent, damaged and hidden away from the consumer. The NMMA also reminds users that E15 is prohibited by law from use in most engines, except for post-2001-model automobiles.
At Boating, we join the NMMA in providing you the right information about fuel choices for your boat’s engines. But you have to do your part. Know that your fuel choice makes a difference, and take your time and be absolutely sure that you do not pump any fuel blended with more than 10 percent ethanol into your boat’s tank when fueling up.