Drivers Beware: E-15 Fuel A Bad Fill

Updated Jan 30, 2015

Buyer Beware of Ethanol Fuel in North Carolina: 60 Sheetz Stations to Offer E15 in 2015

Beware using high-ethanol-content, low-price gasoline. E-15 is a problem when used in many vehicles, small engines, and recreational products such as boats and ATVs.Beware using high-ethanol-content, low-price gasoline. E-15 is a problem when used in many vehicles, small engines, and recreational products such as boats and ATVs.

According to BoatUS, the Altoona, Pennsylvania based convenience store chain Sheetz announced on January 21 that it would offer E15 fuel – gas containing up to 15% ethanol – at 60 of their North Carolina locations beginning in early 2015.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) believes that could be a problem for recreational boaters, motorists and many other users of gasoline-powered equipment and vehicles.

There are no marine engines warrantied to run on E15 and according to AAA, most automobile manufacturers say any damage due to the use of this higher ethanol blend fuel will void the warranty.

In the US, nine out of every ten boaters own a trailerable boat that is most often filled up at a roadside gas station – not at a marina gas dock.

While any gasoline with greater than 10% ethanol (E10) is prohibited for use with recreational boat engines, it’s a common practice among trailer boaters to fill the tow vehicle first, then simply pull the boat up to the pump and insert the same gas pump nozzle into to boat’s fuel fill.

A small, inadequate warning label on the pump pointing to the prohibited uses of E15 may contribute to a situation ripe for misfueling.

Loss of fuel mileage is another issue: the higher the ethanol content, the lower the mpg. Even Flex Fuel Vehicles filled with E-85 will see up to a 30-percent drop in fuel economy, according to the EPA.

“This isn’t just about boats,” said BoatUS Government Affairs Program Manager Nicole Palya-Wood. “If you own an older car, truck, or any small engine such as a lawnmower or leaf blower that uses gas, you will need to be very aware — and take an extra moment to ensure — you’re not putting higher ethanol E15 in the tank.

“At stations that offer multiple fuel selections, these corn-based ethanol fuels are often the lowest price, which is an attraction for frugal boaters. Ironically, owners of small, affordable boats could get hit the hardest when the expensive repair bill comes,” added Wood.