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Lawn Care Alert! How to Prevent Ethanol Damage To Your Lawn Mower

Posted by Kathy Wilder

May 19, 2011 5:50:00 PM

lawnmower

If you haven’t already heard it on the news, there are a few things you should know about ethanol, especially in regard to your lawn mower…and your gasoline-run trimmer, your edger, your motorcycle, your generator, your Waverunner, and any other equipment or toy you own that you don’t use on a daily basis.

Have you had a problem starting your mower this year?  Is it running rough?  You might want to have it checked out.  Small engine repair mechanics are seeing a lot of ruined equipment.

Most gas stations sell a blend of gas containing 10% ethanol.  By federal law, each pump must have a decal advising that the gas contains 10% ethanol.

According to various reports, ethanol damages rubber parts and plays havoc with carburetors, especially when equipment sits for prolonged periods with fuel in them.  Lawn care professionals don’t have as much of a problem as homeowners do, because they use their equipment daily and homeowners don’t. 

Apparently, the ethanol can cause condensation, adding water to your fuel, or more specifically, separating it into three layers of gasoline, ethanol, and water.  When this mess gets into the carburetor and comes into contact with rubber parts, the result is damage to your motor.

Here are a few steps you can take to prevent problems.

  • Buy pure gasoline without ethanol to use in lawn equipment or other things you don’t use frequently, like emergency generators.  Pure-gas.org has a website maintained by the public that lists stations selling gasoline that contains NO ethanol.  You can click on your state for a list of locations.  If you don’t see a pure gas station convenient to you, read on.
  • If you store gasoline in gas cans in your garage, don’t let it sit for longer than two months.  Put it in your car, and then refill the can regularly.
  • Frequently start your lawnmower, motorcycle, generator, or anything else with a small engine.
  • Buy a home test kit to be sure that the gasoline you’re buying really contains just 10% ethanol.  Some consumers have reported testing 10% ethanol gas that they purchased, only to find that it contained more than 10% ethanol.  In some cases, using gas with more than 10% ethanol can void warranties on newly-purchased equipment.
  • Test your stuff periodically.  Don’t wait ‘til you hear a forecast for heavy storms to try your generator, realize that it doesn’t work, then find out the shop can’t get to it, because everyone else is calling, too.

Related articles and video:

Gas stations offering no-ethanol gasoline - Puregas.org

Mechanics See Ethanol Damaging Small Engines - MSNBC

Gas Sold Everywhere Is Destroying Mowers, Generators, Saws, and More - WPTV

Ethanol in Lawn Equipment - The Post and Courier

Ethanol Hurting Mowers, Helping Repair Shops - Tuscaloosa News

Ethanol May Be Harmful To Your Lawnmower - The Truth About Cars (some very interesting comments from readers...)

Topics: ethanol in your lawnmower, lawnmower & ethanol gas

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