KEEP YOUR ENGINE RUNNING
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FUEL AND OIL FOR YOUR MARINE ENGINE
Your boat’s engine powers your on-water adventures, so keeping it well maintained helps you make the most of your time on the water. Using the right type of fuel and oil is critical for your boat engine’s performance and lifespan.
There are two main categories of marine outboard engines: two-stroke and four-stroke. While most new engines are four-stroke, a large number of two-stroke engines are still on the water. Being aware of which type of engine you have and the appropriate oil to use will go a long way towards keeping your boat on the water for years to come.
The lubrication requirements of two-stroke and four-stroke engines are very different because of the way each system works. In two-stroke engines, the oil is mixed with the fuel and lubricates the engine as it passes through. It burns along with the fuel and exits via the exhaust system. Four-stroke engines are lubricated by oil that is repeatedly pumped from, and returned to, a sump, just as in a car or truck.
Newer boat engines are also engineered to be consumer and environmentally friendly —with reduced emissions and extended lifespans. However, these advanced technologies place severe demand on engine lubricants and make it critical to choose the correct lubricant for your engine.
USE THE RIGHT LUBRICANT— MARINE AND AUTO OIL ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE
Although oil in a four-stroke marine engine performs the same function as it does in an automobile engine, passenger car motor oil should not be used in marine engines. The two primary reasons for this: water and wear.
Consider that corrosion caused by water is a primary concern for marine engines. Oils made for cars are not designed to provide the high level of corrosion protection marine engines require. Additionally, car oils also fall short in the protection department. Because four-stroke outboard engines run faster than car engines, spend long periods running at extremes of speed, and can spend long periods out of use, they have very specific requirements for anti-wear protection that car oils do not provide.
The best way to protect your engine is to use the outboard engine oil recommended by the engine manufacturer or to look for the NMMA TC-W3® or FC-W® logo on the oil can. NMMA tests and certifies oils to ensure they meet marine engine needs. Use the following list to determine the correct oil for your boat’s engine:
TC-W3® oils are certified for two-stroke engines
FC-W® products are certified for four-stroke marine engines.
FC-W® Catalyst Compatible covers oils intended for use in four-stroke engines that have an exhaust after-treatment catalyst
USE THE RIGHT FUEL— UNDERSTAND THE ETHANOL ISSUE
Using the right fuel is also critical to the performance and lifespan of your boat’s engine. Fuel that contains 10 percent or less ethanol is the only type of fuel you should use. Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing to change the automotive / light duty truck fuel standard from the current 10 percent ethanol (E10) used in many gasoline blends to 15 percent ethanol (E15). This will mean that E15 is expected to become more prominent in the U.S. marketplace in the coming years so boaters need to be more vigilant than ever when filling up at the pump.
On top of being prohibited by federal law in boat engines, E15 causes significant damage to your boat and could result in a breakdown on the water. However, most people are unaware of this danger. And lifting the restriction on E15 sales during the summer months will make misfuelling more likely, especially for the 95 percent of boaters who fill up at their local gas stations.
While retailers that choose to sell E15 fuel must post warning labels at the pump, the labels are often not easy to spot or understand. Marinas, of course, carry gasoline without ethanol and are probably the safest place to fill up if you do not want to worry about the fuel you are using. Remember, if fueling up at your local gas station, only use fuel with ten percent or less ethanol.