Ethanol is another term for alcohol and you’ll see notices on most gas pumps telling you the fuel you’re putting in your sled has a percentage of it blended with carbon-based gasoline.
There’s been a lot of questions raised about whether or not it’’s harmful to your engine – and a lot of misinformation. Here are some facts to consider:
1. Ethanol does not lower the octane of your gasoline.
True. The fact is, pure ethanol has a much higher flash point and actually boosts the octane rating of gasoline. Since most fuel suppliers only add 5-10-percent ethanol to their gas, they actually have to dumb down the octane rating, chemically, to compete with pure gasoline.
2. If the above is true, why not use more ethanol?
The downside of ethanol is that it is more caustic than gasoline and can wash away 2-stroke oil from moving parts quicker than pure gas. This is not a problem with mixes up to about 25-percent ethanol (not available anywhere, as far as we know) and it’s why the oil companies usually don’t exceed 15-percent.
3. Ethanol can destroy your fuel system parts.
This was true a couple of decades ago but all snowmobiles since about 1978 use grades of plastic and rubber for impellers, floats and lines that are impervious to ethanol. If you have a vintage sled built prior to that date, however, you might want to look around for ethanol-free gas.
4. Ethanol always has water in it.
This is only partially true and is most common with marine engines and vehicles that are stored for long periods of time in places where there’s temperature variance.
Ethanol will absorb water from condensation much quicker than gasoline and it’s why it’s not a bad idea to drain your tank and fuel system when you put your sled away.
If the temperature where you’re storing it is reasonably constant, like a heated garage or barn, you can get away without much moisture absorption, but you still definitely should always use fuel stabilizer.