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AMSOIL TECH BLOG

01/01/2012

Fortunately, Prevention is Generally Simple and Cost Effective

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood surround our old Herter's Husky snowmobile. Dad used to tie a sled to the rear bumper and drag us all over the yard. Once I was old enough, he let me take the sled out on my own. It was pretty cold-blooded and could be tough to start, but once I got it going I never wanted to climb off. Of course, before I could take the Husky out on my own I had to prove that I was responsible enough to handle it, and part of that included some of the basic maintenance necessary to keep the sled running right. Dad taught me to put a bottle of "Heet" (isopropyl alcohol) in the gas tank when it got really cold. Like any good father, he did not want me to get into trouble out on my own; like any good son, I did what he said so I could take the sled when I wanted it. We didn't talk much about why; it was just what you did. When my interests moved from the old Husky to chemical engineering, I started asking "why."

What is it about the cold that causes our toys and vehicles that run fine the rest of the year to break down? The problem is usually related to an old battery, a failed starter, bad spark plugs, dirty injectors or, yes, fuel. So dad was onto something when he told me to treat the Husky’s fuel. The cold clearly negatively affects fuel in winter, and gasoline and diesel have different reactions to the cold.

Diesel fuel is mostly derived from crude oil which, as all good AMSOIL Dealers know, contains many different materials, including wax. During warm periods, diesel fuel remains homogenous and the wax is relatively evenly dispersed throughout the fuel. When temperatures drop toward the fuel's cloud point, the wax begins to crystallize, agglomerate and drop to the bottom of the tank where it collects in fuel filters and fuel injectors.

This causes significant and recognizable issues. Blocked fuel filters and injectors will not deliver fuel at the rate required to either start or operate the vehicle. Many diesel vehicles coming up from the South end up stalled on the side of the road if the fuel is not treated prior to hitting cold temperatures. This is the most common issue related to diesel fuel.

Gasoline is very different from diesel fuel; it is much lighter and more volatile. Most gas in the U.S. is now mixed with up to 10 percent ethyl alcohol (ethanol). Forecasts predict government legislation/special-interest groups will continue pushing for increases in ethanol content in commercially available gasoline over the next decade. Gasoline with under 10 percent ethanol content does not create major issues in vehicles as long as they are designed to sense and adjust for lower-Btu fuel (ethanol); however, ethanol, and especially water, can pose problems for vehicles in winter.

The problems with pump gas start when the fuel comes in contact with water. When temperatures drop, condensate forms from the warm air in the fuel tank, which holds more moisture. As the air space in the fuel tank cools, the water vapor condenses on the walls and ends up in the fuel. This happens continually and is much more prevalent in winter. The larger the air space in the tank, the more tendency to build up water quickly.

Ethanol is much lighter than petroleum gas and will separate readily if its weak bond to gas is broken. Ethanol also mixes readily with water, so whenever water enters the system, ethanol molecules will drop their bonds to gasoline molecules and grab onto the water molecules. This mixture of ethanol and water is much heavier than gasoline and falls to the bottom of the tank. It only takes a small amount of water in your fuel tank from condensation to cause gasoline and ethanol to separate, and it will separate immediately when a critical level of water is reached. The fuel at the bottom of the tank is mostly ethanol, which is less efficient, and the remaining gasoline at the top of the tank is very low octane, which hurts engine performance.

This is particularly troublesome in two-stroke powersports equipment that already runs hot and is more susceptible to deposit formation. When the ethanol and water mixture is ingested into the engine, it creates a lean burn situation that increases combustion chamber temperatures even more. Old-fashioned remedies to these issues, like isopropyl alcohol, worked OK, but are not ideal. Isopropyl alcohol mixes with the water at the bottom of the tank and keeps things from freezing up, but it doesn't prevent ethanol and gasoline from separating. AMSOIL Quickshot Fuel Additive works so well in powersports equipment because it is not an emulsifier; it keeps ethanol from separating from gasoline in the first place and helps prevent water from accumulating in the bottom of the fuel tank. This keeps water from condensation continually moving out of the fuel tank as a normal part of operation.

Now I understand what dad was trying to protect me from back in the 70s, and now I am a father of two beautiful daughters and one overly confident son, and I worry about the same things that my dad worried about when I was a kid. While snowmobile and powersports technology has evolved dramatically since then, many of the same fuel issues persist. Thankfully, the tools to treat those issues have evolved as well, and I can be confident that AMSOIL Quickshot Fuel Additive will eliminate those mechanical issues when I send my kids out on the trails. Published, AMSOIL Magazine 01/12.

SYNZILLA.com LLC is a large nationwide Dealer of AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants and is now expanding into your area and surrounding states. If you have a business or are an individual with several vehicles, AMSOIL has several options available that may allow you to Purchase AMSOIL Products at Wholesale Prices. We can show you how to save money and extend equipment life with AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils, Lubricants, Filters and Fuel Additives. Please visit the AMSOIL Online Store for more information and to purchase AMSOIL Products.

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