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OPEI Survey on Fuels
(An excerpt from the full story)
A new online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the international trade association representing 100 small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers, finds that U.S. consumers are ill-prepared for the introduction of higher ethanol fuel blends.
EPA has approved the introduction of some mid-level ethanol blends (E15, E30, E85) for use in a small, subset of automobiles in an effort to comply with the federal renewable fuel mandate; the problem is that these higher ethanol fuel blends may be dispensed alongside current fuels, but they are illegal and risky to use in hundreds of millions of small engine products and applications. –
Key Findings of Survey
- The vast majority of Americans (71%) are “not at all sure” if it is illegal or legal to put high level ethanol gas (i.e., anything higher than 10 percent ethanol) into small engines such as those in boats, mowers, chain saws, snow mobiles, generators and other engine products.
- Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say they assume that any gas sold at the gas station is safe for all of their cars, as well as boats, mowers, chain saws, snow mobiles, generators and other engine products.
- For Americans who drive up to the fuel pump, price is overwhelmingly the number one thing they notice (91%). Whether the pump accepts credit cards (64%) and the octane rating (55%) come in second and third place.- Only a quarter (25%) of these Americans notices the ethanol content
- Seven-in-ten (71%) Americans say they use the least expensive grade of gasoline whenever possible.
What you should remember: Read your power equipment manual! Find out what ratings (Octane & percent ethanol) the small engine manufacturer recommends for your particular equipment. Small engine manufacturers do not warranty their products when you, the consumer use the wrong fuel product in the engine.
- Carefully read your power equipment manual regarding octane and ethanol requirements.Use fresh fuel in your equipment!
- Fuels with any ethanol content will degradeUse a fuel stabilizer!
- Fuel stabilizers help to retain the good qualities of the fuel, and help prevent the fuel from becoming stale; the stabilizer only helps to a point in the life of the fuel.
- Use fresh fuel.
- Don’t buy the cheapest fuel!
- Purchase the fuel recommended by your engine manufacturer; only in small amounts (one gallon container) or put the remaining fuel in your daily use vehicle.
Proper maintenance and use of good oil and fuels is essential in the longevity of your equipment, By using the correct octane rating and ethanol percentage, plus fresh fuel, your equipment will provide you with years of good service. Keeping the air filter clean is important also, and having sharp blades and saw chains is very important in the general running of the equipment
About 90% of the repairs we see today are directly related to the use of the ethanol fuels. Leaving the fuel in the equipment is the most prevalent problem, the second is the wrong fuel, generally high ethanol content. If you leave your engine sit a month or more with ethanol fuel in the tank, you will have water problems. We highly recommend the use of fuel stabilizers, or TrueGas, otherwise be prepared to clean the fuel tank, lines, etc., to get the equipment running.
In today’s world of rising gasoline prices, ethanol-blended fuels are increasingly more common. In many states, the standard gasoline available for consumer purchase at the pump already contains 10 percent ethanol (commonly referred to as “E10” fuel), and some areas will soon see the introduction of E15, a gasoline blend that contains 15 percent ethanol. The problem is that E15 fuels pose serious problems for many of the engines that power lawnmowers, chainsaws, trimmers and other outdoor power equipment.
The Problems with E15
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has advocated nationally regarding the damaging effects of ethanol-based fuels on small-engine equipment. These fuels, due to their corrosive nature, can seriously damage fuel systems that are not designed to handle them. E15 fuels burn significantly hotter, and as a result, they can cause a small engine to overheat. In addition, these increased-ethanol fuel blends can absorb a great deal of airborne water (which in humid or damp operating conditions makes the engine very difficult to start) and are hard to ignite within a carburetor during cold weather.
While E10 fuels are approved for use in lawnmowers and other outdoor power equipment, gasoline blends that contain higher levels of ethanol are not. In fact, the use of a fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol can actually void your equipment’s warranty. (Check your equipment’s owner’s manual to find out what fuel is recommended for use.) And in many cases, you may actually see a warning sticker around the gas cap that clearly states that no fuels with a higher percentage of ethanol than 10 percent can be used.
Know What You Purchase
To ensure that you don’t inadvertently cause engine or fuel system damage to your outdoor power equipment, check to see what type of gasoline your local service station sells. (All fuel pumps are required to display a label that lets you know the percentage of ethanol, if any, in the gasoline.) Never purchase gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol for your outdoor power equipment. If you live in a state that mandates ethanol blends (as many states in the Corn Belt do), you can go a step further and purchase what’s commonly referred to as “non-oxygenated” fuel. While not as readily available as standard ethanol-blended gasoline, this ethanol-free fuel is approved for use in outdoor power equipment as well as in motorcycles, off-road vehicles, boats and other recreational vehicles.
While the EPA did approve E15 fuels for use in automobiles produced after 2007, additional legislation regarding E15’s overall use has been put on hold until additional studies have been conducted on its impact on small engines. Nevertheless, when it comes to fueling outdoor power equipment, consumers should stay alert at the gas pumps and know what they’re purchasing.