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It’s finally time to get those sleds prepped for the season! We know there are more than a few of you who cut down on the cursing, attend an extra church service and pray to God that your sled starts for one more season. We’ve been there!
There’s nothing more demoralizing than breaking out the sled in autumn only to find it’s not running correctly or maybe not even starting at all. Often the assumption is there’s something mechanically wrong. That’s entirely possible; however, if the engine was running well previously, it’s very difficult for a mechanical malfunction to occur while it’s not running for several months.
The more likely culprit is fuel degradation. That’s why many swear by the practice of draining fuel tanks before summer storage, but that’s a different debate. We’re just talking about what happens to the makeup of fuel over time and what can be done to prevent it. Consider this a chemistry lesson of sorts.
First, a bit of info to pass along: As a general rule, your standard E10 gas (containing up to 10% ethanol) typically holds for around 90 days or so after the ethanol is added. After that, it starts to deteriorate. Ethanol-free gasoline has a shelf life of well over a year, but it is getting more and more difficult to find these days.
Ethanol is an alcohol, and due to its physical makeup, it will actually attract water molecules that cause phase separation of gasoline. Translation: bad gas. And there’s not much you can do about it.
The recommended solution is to replenish your gas supply every 2-3 weeks at minimum. That’s probably not an issue during the riding season, but it’s probably not realistic in the summer.
A more practical solution is to add a fuel treatment or a stabilizer to what little fuel remains in your gas tank for summer storage. But buyers beware – many so called stabilizers or treatments actually contain alcohol as well, which only amplifies the water issues over long periods of storage. And there are many more which inaccurately claim to reverse phase separation or bring back octane levels. That’s simply not possible.
We have used many products, most recently Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment. We have found it to be particularly helpful in maintaining ethanol fuel quality. Star Tron doesn’t claim to remove the water, but the chemical components of this treatment break up groups of water molecules in submicron-sized droplets, so they are more easily eliminated through the engine’s combustion process. And you can add it to your fuel at any time.
After carefully determining which of the many products is right for your application, you might consider adding it as you’re pulling your sled out for the season. It may just ease your fuel concerns, and your many sled starts to come.