Why do boats seem to have more issues attributed to E10 fuel than cars?

Cars can have issues but are somewhat more tolerant due to typical usage patterns and dif¬ferences in their fuel systems. Major differences are:

  • Modern automotive fuel systems (fuel filler, fuel tank, distribution lines and engine components) are closed or non-vented. Once the fuel is pumped into the tank, there is very little circulation of outside air (containing moisture) into the fuel system.
  • Boats are operated and often stored in a very wet environment increasing the risk of water directly entering the fuel system.
  • Boats have vented fuel systems which allow moisture laden air to circulate into the fuel tank as the fuel is drawn out of the tank and as the fuel expands and contracts during heating and cooling cycles of the outside air.
  • Automotive fuel tanks are typically much smaller than boat fuel tanks and are refilled more frequently. A full tank of fuel in a car or truck, typically 50-70 litres, may be used and refilled every week or two. Boat fuel tanks, typically 70-100 litres per tank, may only be refilled once a month during the boating season and typically may sit unused for many months during the off season.
  • Some boats use fibreglass fuel tanks. Polyester resins can be dissolved by ethanol.
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