Engine & Mobile Filtration

What You Should Know About Boating Fuel System Maintenance


Spring will be here soon and it’s almost time to go boating! But let’s be safe boaters while we’re having fun. Prepare your boat properly and take the time to ensure all components are in working, safe order.

Racor recommends that owners of gasoline-powered boats inspect their entire marine fuel system on a seasonal and regular basis, as improperly blended gasoline can negatively affect fuel system components, especially engineering plastics for marine spin-on filter fuel bowls. Check all fittings, hoses, filters and other fuel system component for fuel seepage or leaks and make repairs immediately. 

Plastic bowls are a fuel system maintenance item

Pay close attention to the clear plastic collection bowls on marine gasoline filters. Over the last 30 years, gasoline formulations have changed, and plastic bowl material formulations had to change as well to stay compatible. A notable recent change to gasoline was the addition of 10% ethanol or E10. If ethanol concentrations exceed 10%, there may be adverse plastic bowl changes; such as loss of clarity, crazing, and shrinkage, eventually causing the bowl to separate from the filter. Bowl age, high temperature, ultraviolet light, and various fuel additives may also negatively impact clear plastic filter bowls.



It is important to routinely inspect your plastic bowl for not only water, but haze, discoloration, and deformation of any kind. A filter bowl should last for many years, but bowl replacement is necessary when signs of material breakdown are observed. For example, bowls manufactured before the availability of E10 gasoline (those without a “PUR or Z” mark on the bottom) should be replaced immediately with bowl number RK 30475. Or go to a metal bowl with RK30473-02. See Racor bulletin EB00033 for more details.

Inspect your fuel filters daily

Inspect or drain the contaminant collection bowl of water daily (see-through bowls make this visual step easy). Be aware that if water is allowed to fill the bowl before draining, it will be difficult to distinguish from gasoline, other than it may be clearer than expected. For metal bowl units, drain off a small sample; about a half a cup. Inspect the container for water; it will appear as large clear drops at the bottom. If there is more than a half a cup of water evident, you may want to drain off more until there is no more evidence of water.

Check your filter element and carry spares

Replace the fuel filter every six (6) months or at the first indication of power loss. If there are signs of rust, or if the contaminant bowl has captured a noticeable layer of sediment, it would be prudent to replace the filter element now. It’s also a good idea to always to carry spare filters as one tankful of bad gas can quickly plug a new filter.

Tip: mark the replacement date on the filter for future reference.

Final considerations

Check your Racor bowl for tightness to the filter element. You should only tighten firmly by hand; about 1/3 to 1/2 turn after gasket contact. That goes for the filter element to the head too. Don’t use strap wrenches to tighten them. Remember: Racor gasoline filters using see-through bowls are for outboard applications (where the filter is open to the atmosphere). Racor gasoline filters with metal bowls may be used in engine spaces. Make sure adequate ventilation is available and always operate the Engine Blower for 5 minutes before starting a gasoline powered inboard vessel.


For further information download our Bowl Maintenance Technical Bulletin EB00033


What you should know about boating fuel system maintenance - Download Technical Bulletin - Parker Racor Division






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Dealing with Condensation and Filtration Problems: A Guide for Diesel Boat Owners

Diesel Bug and How to Avoid It: Tips and Resources for Diesel Boat Owners

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