Given the choice, I run ethanol free gas in my boat. It’s more expensive, but it means that I don’t have the issues commonly attributed to ethanol, like water in my gas.
All the newer Yamaha outboards and their components have been designed to withstand the corrosive properties of ethanol fuels, so if you can’t find an ethanol–free gas pump in your area or you prefer to run the E10 gasoline, I suggest you run the manufacturer’s stated octane fuel, and also subscribe to the major brand-name fuel suppliers that add detergents and lubricants like Techroline to their fuels. It might be cheaper to buy fuel from an off brand company, but the additives the major companies put in their fuels help clean the carbon and other debris out of your internal motor components and lubricate them, so for a few pennies more your adding potential longevity to your outboard.
You also want to patronize the busier gas stations that go through a lot of fuel and don’t hold it for longer periods where the ethanol in the fuel can attract water. Most of the debris introduced into your fuel system comes from the holding tanks in the gas stations, which over time break down, leak or corrode and eventually build up in the holding tanks allowing you to pump the debris directly into the fuel tank in your boat. The busier stations go through a lot of fuel, meaning debris and water don’t have time or opportunity to build up in their holding tanks.
All that being said, most of the gas you find on the road is E10 or ten percent ethanol, which besides being a fuel component is a very powerful solvent that can corrode rubber or fiberglass and loosen any debris that comes in with your fuel, all of which can lead to a clogged fuel line. If you have an older boat with a fiberglass gas tank, the ethanol can break down the fiberglass and matting and even eat a hole in the tank. Ethanol also attracts water, which is one of the most common issues you’ll run into with E10 gas products.
If you’re going to run fuel with ethanol in it, your first line of defense should be a Yamaha 10-micron Marine Fuel Water Separating Filter, even with the smaller outboard motors. Every Yamaha outboard already has a system of on-engine fuel filters within the engine to help protect against debris in your fuel, but they’re much smaller than the Yamaha Marine Fuel Water Separating Filter so if they clog, no fuel can get through to the motor. This Yamaha filter is also super easy to spin off and replace on a regular basis, so look at the Yamaha Marine Fuel Water Separating Filter as your first line of defense against fuel problems and the on-engine filter systems as the back-ups in case anything gets through.
One thing you want to remember is that not all Marine Fuel Water Separating Filters are the same. The 10-micron Yamaha Marine Fuel Water Separating Filter comes in a sealed metal can with a large water reservoir on the bottom, a longer filter element and a sealed metal bottom to the filter. A lot of the cheaper Marine Fuel Water Separating Filters have screw-in bottoms and a plastic base to the filter which can easily crack. They usually have a smaller filter element, too. When it comes to protecting your engine from water and debris, you want to use the best filter you can get, and you’ll regret using the cheaper filter the first time your fuel line clogs and damages your motor or you have to clean the entire fuel system.
Yamaha also makes some fuel additives that you should put in your fuel when you fill up that will clean and protect your engine from many of the issues associated with poor gas, water or debris. YamaLube® Fuel Stabilizer and Conditioner Plus should be added to your gas tank to protect against corrosion from water-related fuel issues. Yamalube Ring Free Plus helps protect the metal fuel system components from the issues with ethanol-based fuels along with preventing carbon build-up, one of the biggest issues with outboards over the long-term life of the motor. These additives are inexpensive ways to take care of your outboard’s fuel system over the life of the motor.
Just as a precaution, I also keep an extra Yamaha Marine Fuel Water Separating Filter and filter wrench and an extra Yamaha primer bulb on my boat at all times in case I have fuel issues while on the water. You want to check your fuel hoses and primer bulb on a regular basis for cracking or ethanol breakdown. And if there’s a lot of water or debris in your fuel, you’ll eventually clog the Marine Fuel Water Separating Filter. Having a spare Yamaha primer bulb and Yamaha Marine Fuel Water Separating Filter can easily get you back and running normally in just a few minutes and help you avoid a bad day on the water.
The thing you want to remember is that your fuel system is an essential component to a safe and fun day on the water, so remember to perform regular maintenance on it, use better grade fuels and Yamalube additives, and have a few back-up parts ready in case there’s an issue. It’s all part of maintaining your fuel system in good condition so that you can get the longest life out of your outboard motor while optimizing the outboard’s performance.
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