Boaters Note: Tests Show E15 Fuel Could Damage Some Vehicles

Automakers say new ethanol study suggests EPA prematurely approved higher blend

Fueling up

Fueling up

Two of eight late-model vehicle engines that ran for 500 hours on 15 percent ethanol fuel (E15) suffered leaks from uneven valve-seat wear and pittage, according to engine durability tests conducted by the Coordinating Research Council, the Oil & Gas Journal has reported. The CRC describes itself as a non-profit organization that directs engineering and environmental studies on interactions between automotive and petroleum products.

The journal’s sources suggest the results confirm that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency prematurely approved E15 for use in 2001 model year or newer cars and light trucks before testing could be completed. Most marine engine companies void warranties when boat owners use fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol (E10). Even E10 has caused damage to some boat engines and fuel systems.

Several organizations sued the EPA in 2011 to reverse the E15 waivers, the journal stated. That case is before an appellate court.

In other recent news, Bombardier Recreational Products said it has launched a new test program to see if a biofuel named isobutanol might prove more reliable than ethanol for boat engines.

For more on operating boats with ethanol fuel, click here.