DOESN'T MATTER what brand you run, you need to deal with ethanol in your fuel.

I’ve been doing quite a bit a research on the pros and cons of ethanol from its costs to its benefits, and frankly my head is spinning. I can’t tell where politics starts and science ends. But what I really want to know is, how can I keep my big motor running right?

For that reason, I went to someone who’s right there in the outboard shop dealing with the realities of ethanol in our fuel. Jordan Witt, Mercury certified service manager for Anglers Marine in Anaheim (a Platinum dealer), took a few moments to put my mind at ease.

Of course, Jordan was talking Mercury, but I would expect that if you have a different color engine, you can find your own brand expert. And you’ll want to listen to his advice.

First off, the key is to understand that as an additive, ethanol is created from plant products such as corn or as Witt says, “grass cuttings,” and a problem arises when it breaks down leaving basically “sugar and water.”  As the fuel ages, he notes, “The water goes to the bottom of your fuel tank, and the sugar stays,” where it may hold moisture to the vapor separator and other parts that have steel (read: things that rust) components.

Now, before I mention some products available for Mercury owners, let me share Jordan’s best fuel tip. Because the problems with ethanol rear their ugly heads with stored fuels, he says, “Only put in the fuel (in your rig) that you’re going to use.”

The old rules about keeping the tank full to fend off humidity getting moisture in your tank don’t apply much in the Southwest. As Witt says, “In the West we have low humidity, so because of that, you want to burn all your fuel as often as possible. Burn 10 gallons and put in another 10–always freshen up your fuel.” 

Now if you do the big waters, it’s not the same as fishing the local, small lakes. As he says, “Obviously if you  go to the river, fill it up and burn it.”

Here’s some excerpts regarding products. “Mercury makes a couple of products,” says Jordan. “One is Quickstor, a fuel stabilizer designed for ethanol blend fuels, make the fuel last longer, normally up to a year.”

“Quick Kleen system cleaner is meant for daily use,” Witt says, ” cleans injectors and keeps the ethanol from breaking down the carbon.”

A third product, Mercury Quick Kare has a different role. As Witt suggests, ” It’s if you have old fuel that you want to ‘bring back’ so to speak.”  

Basically, his recommendation overall is, “If you know you’re not going to use the boat, put in some stabilizer, run the motor with the stabilizer in it, then park it, and it should be good.” And if you keep the boat at home, maybe once a month, “Run it with flusher for 5 minutes in your garage. That helps a lot, even if you’re not going to the lake.”