A car, bike, truck, etc. use the same fuel; it can be either gas or diesel. But boats use the same gas (fuel) as cars? OR Is it different from regular fuels (gas or diesel) that are used in cars? OKAY, let’s see whether do boats use the same gas as cars or not?
Boats use the same gas as cars do; the only difference between the boats and car’s gas is the price. A gas at a gas station is a bit cheaper compared to the gas at the marina due to supply and demand. But the big boats (ships) use some different fuels depending on the engine design and type.
You can use the same gas you’d put in a car for a boat with a gas engine. And for a boat with a diesel engine, you can use the same diesel you’d put in a car. So, usually, boats use the same gas as cars, and the only difference is with the price and rest everything is the same.
And generally, that not the case with big ships or commercial vessels; they use other fuels such as IFO (Intermediate fuel oil), HFO (Heavy fuel oil), MGO (Marine gas oil), and MDO (Marine diesel oil). These are the heaviest commercial fuel obtained from crude oil, i.e., heavier than gasoline and naphtha.
You can save $0.2 to $0.5 (average) on one liter of gas on a small boat if you fill at a gas station rather than at the marina. So, filling the gas for the boat at a gas station instead of at the marina can save some money. And only small crafts (boats) use the same fuel (gas) as land vehicles, not the big ones.
Overall, boats and cars use the same gas; a car gets filled up from the pump at a gas station, whereas a boat gets filled up from the pump at a marina; due to that, a price increase is the only difference. If you trailer the boat, then filling the tank at the gas station for your boat will save money and time as well.
Related post – Check my article on What fuels do boats use to know all the fuel types and their benefits and drawbacks in a detailed way for smaller recreational boats.
Do different boat engines (2-stroke and 4-stroke) use the same gas as cars?
We will now see whether a boat with a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine uses different gas or the same gas as cars.
A boat with a 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine uses the same gas as cars do. But for a 2-stroke engine, you need to be careful because if it has a separate oil injection system, it’s absolutely FINE, but if it needs pre-mixed gas, you need to know the correct ratio of oil with gas to use.
If you have a 4-stroke engine, you need not worry about gas and oil mix at all because 4-stroke engines have separate gas and oil tanks, but if you have a 2-stroke engine, it is still fine if it has a separate oil injection system; otherwise, you need to know the correct ratio.
With an oil injection system, the oil is automatically metered in with the gas. You don’t have to worry about the correct mixture and don’t have to mix the gas and oil; you simply put the gas & oil in its place, and the system will do its job.
2-stroke fuel is basically unleaded gas mixed with 2-stroke oil. The oil to gas mix ratio will be specified in the engine’s instruction manual. The 2-stroke fuel oil is essential in lubricating the engine as 2-stroke engines do not have an internal oil reservoir. And doing it wrong results in some adverse effects.
2-stoke engine with excess oil can produce a smoky exhaust, oil leaking out of the muffler, and sometimes loss of power. A 2-stroke engine with too little oil can actually destroy the unit. So, if you have a 2-stroke engine and don’t have separate oil injection, you need to do the oil and gas mix carefully.
Finally, 2-stroke and 4-stroke boat engines use the same fuel as cars do. You need to take care of a 2-stroke engine while mixing oil and gas if it doesn’t have a separate oil injection. So, generally, 2-stroke and 4-stroke boat engines use the same gas as cars use.
Do all boats (small and big boats) use the same gas as cars?
Hmmm. Assuming that all boats, both small boats (Pontoon boats, Jet boats, Jon boats, etc.) and big boats (ships), use the same fuel? NO, they use different fuels.
Do small boats use the same gas as cars?
Small boats such as pontoon boats, jet boats, Jon boats, Bayliner, etc. will use the same gas as cars because they don’t require more torque (gas produces less torque compared to diesel). Less torque is enough to move a small boat (generally, boats less than 40 feet in length) in the water easily.
And still, boats above 40 feet will use gas, and they will do fine. In the USA, gasoline is mostly used as fuel in small boats rather than diesel engines, and in the UK and European countries, diesel is most common in small boats than gas (petrol).
Gasoline is the most common fuel for small boats in the USA, and at many marinas, you can find either ethanol-free gas or E10. Ohh, you saw E10, which is 10% ethanol mix in gasoline. Let’s see why ethanol is added to gasoline and its difference from regular gas (ethanol-free gas).
Ethanol gas (E10 and E15)
Ethanol is added to gas because it completely burns the fuel and produces less emission compared to normal gas (ethanol-free gas) and diesel. So, a small percentile of ethanol (10% and 15%) is added to gas to reduce pollution, but 15% of ethanol in gas will produce more pollution, so 10% is common.
That being said, there are generally two types of ethanol mixtures in the gas: E10 (10% of ethanol in gas) and E15 (15% of ethanol in gas).
- E10 – 10% of ethanol is added to the gas.
- E15 – 15% of ethanol is added to the gas.
Okay, now you know the benefit of adding ethanol to the gas, but there is one major drawback of adding ethanol to the gas. We will now see what the major drawback of adding ethanol to the gas is.
The problem with adding ethanol to the gas is it creates water in the tank from the air, and if there is any water present in the tank, then it creates more. Eventually, that water in the tank corrodes the boat fuel lines and the fuel tank’s inner walls over time.
If the boat is left with some gas (E10) in the tank for a long time, it will form some thick solution of rust or any at the bottom of the tank, damaging the motor. That’s the main problem with adding ethanol to the gas. And if the ethanol percentage in the gas is increased, then it creates more problems.
E15 gas (15% of ethanol in gas) contains more ethanol percentage in the gas, which will create more problems than E10 and ethanol-free gas. So, the E15 gas is mostly not used in the boats, and it is banned in many states. E10 and ethanol-free gas are common in most of the boats than E15 gas.
But the significant advantage of mixing ethanol in gas is that it decreases pollution (emits less compared to ethanol-free gas), but mixing the gas with more percentage of ethanol (15% of ethanol or E15 gas) may result in additional problems than ethanol-free gas and E10 gas.
So, mostly E15 is bad and not used in the boats (E15 is banned in some places). And ethanol gas is good at low quantities, not at large quantities because if the fuel tank is big, it creates more water in the tank. So, it is good to fill the tank with the amount of fuel you need for the trip.
Benefits of using gas (petrol) in a boat
- The gas motor is less expensive than diesel motors.
- Gas motors produce less smoke compared to other fuels (diesel).
- They put out more power than an equivalent size diesel engine.
- Mixing ethanol with gasoline (E10 or 10% ethanol in gas) decreases smoke emission (pollution).
Drawbacks of using gas (petrol) in a boat
- Gas is more expensive than other fuels.
- Leaving ethanol gas in the tank for a long time will create water in the tank and can corrode the fuel lines and tank itself.
- Exhaust gases from gas engines contain carbon monoxide, which is deadly.
- Adding more ethanol to gasoline (E15 or 15% of ethanol in gas) produces more pollution.
- Gas motors produce less torque, and it’s not sufficient to run a big boat or ship, so gas motors are not used in big boats or ships.
Do big boats (ships) use the same fuel as cars?
Big boats (large ships) use IFO or HFO as fuel in both the 2-stroke main engines and 4-stroke engines because there produce more energy (power) and less expensive than the same volume of gasoline. A full tank of fuel oil will take a ship further than the same gasoline volume.
NOTE – Throughout the post, I use the term fuel oil, which refers to the fuel used in big boats (ships), Heavy fuel oil (HFO), or Intermediate fuel oil (IFO).
The main reason why ships use fuel oils (IFO and HFO) other than regular gas in cars is safety – all marine fuels (except LNG) have to have a greater flashpoint than 60C by law. Petrol vapor is heavier than air, and any leaks would collect in the lower parts of the ship, where one spark will blow the whole engine room and the boat.
DID YOU KNOW? Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C is the largest reciprocating engine in the world. It has 14-cylinder and dimensions are 13.5 meters (44 ft) high, 26.59 m (87 ft) long, weighs over 2,300 tons, and produces 80,080 kW (107,390 hp).WIKIPEDIA
Another main reason why gasoline is not used in large ships is gasoline is expensive than fuel oil (HFO and IFO). For a small boat, the cost isn’t that big of a deal, whereas a ship will consume 100s of tons of fuel each day, which will be equivalent to a lot of money and using gasoline will be like simply leaving millions of dollars on the table.
According to the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, a large ship might consume up to 250 tons of fuel per day. To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to over 80,000 gallons of fuel a day. Regular-sized ships, by contrast, may use up to 150 tons of fuel per day.Wind star cruises
$15 to $25 decrease in price per barrel on fuel can save in millions of dollars. Gasoline produces less power than fuel oil. On an energy basis, the fuel oil is only half as expensive as gasoline. Another added benefit is that a full tank of fuel oil will take a ship further than the same volume of gasoline. So, big ships don’t use gasoline as fuel.
And some high-performance boats (larger commercial boats) use distilled fuel (Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and Marine Diesel Oil (MDO)), which is different from the regular gas or diesel fuels. Mostly, these are the fuel used by big boats (ships).
Benefits of using fuel oil in big boats (ships)
- Fuel oil is less expensive compared to gasoline ($15 to $25 per barrel).
- Fuel oil produces 6.3 MMBTU/Gallon energy per gallon, whereas gasoline produces 5.25 MMBTU/Gallon per gallon.
- A full tank of fuel oil will take a ship further than the same volume of gasoline.
- Fuel oil is much safer to store than gasoline because gasoline would be a big fire hazard.
- The engines on big ships turn at much lower RPM and are not designed to run on gasoline.
- Fuel oil is heavy and thick; they use heavy and thick oils as fuel is not only because it will give high energy and compact. (It leaves them more room for cargo).
Drawbacks of using fuel oil in big boats (ships)
- Expensive to get repaired or replaced with other fuels or engines and messy due to more fuel thickness.
- Because of the low quality of bunker fuel, it is especially harmful to humans’ health, causing serious illnesses and deaths when burnt.
To know more about the ship’s fuel types, costs, contaminants, etc., and about Intermediate Fuel oil (IFO) or Heavy Fuel Oil (HSO), check this Wikipedia page click here.
Boats (probably small boats) use the same gas as cars—the only difference is with the price, nothing else. Due to supply and demand at the marina, the marina’s gas or diesel price will be higher. So, filling the gas for your boat at a gas station may save you $0.2 to $0.5 per liter.
You can use the same gas you’d put in a car for a boat with a gas engine. And for a boat with a diesel engine, you can use the same diesel you’d put in a car. Gasoline would be more advantageous for a small boat due to its sufficient power and less emission than other fuels.
When it comes to big boats (ships), they use different fuels, other gas, or diesel. They use other fuels such as IFO (Intermediate fuel oil), HFO (Heavy fuel oil), MGO (Marine gas oil), and MDO (Marine diesel oil), which are the heavier commercial fuel than gas and naphtha and obtained from crude oil.
The main reason why ships use fuel oils (IFO and HFO) other than gas as cars is safety – all marine fuels (except LNG) have to have a greater flashpoint than 60C by law. Petrol vapor is heavier than air, and any leaks would collect in the lower parts of the ship, where one spark will blow the whole engine room and the boat.