Don’t Use Ethanol Blended Gasoline in Your Lawnmower

IMG_0386I can push a mower.  I can fill it with gasoline.  I can even change the spark plugs and the oil.   But, don’t ask me to make small engine repairs.

I had a mower develop issues not long ago and I didn’t know at the time what it was.  I’m fairly sure I know now – ethanol blended gasoline.

Almost all gas stations sell ethanol blended fuels today.  Most offer E10 but can blend in E15.  Although E10 gasolines are approved for small engines, like lawnmowers, anything more than that is harmful.  Gasoline blended with E15 burns hotter and can cause engines to overheat.  It is also corrosive – to the extent that it can seriously damage fuel systems.  In fact, the use of gasoline blended with E15 can actually void your equipment warranty.

How will you know if you’re getting an E10 or higher?  You won’t.  Gas stations are not required to state exactly what the blend is.  So, the blend can be E10 or higher – you won’t know.

Fortunately, I happened to find a station in Cumming that sells ethanol free gas.  Maybe there are more like it, I just haven’t found them.  In any case, from now on, I’m filling up my gas canisters at the RaceTrac at state road 141 at Ronald Reagan Blvd., adjacent to the Collection at Forsyth.

It’s more expensive.  But it won’t kill my lawn mower.

And more advice:  don’t let your lawnmower sit all winter with ordinary ethanol blended gasoline in it.  Better to add ethanol free or burn out the fuel and leave it empty.



5 Replies to “Don’t Use Ethanol Blended Gasoline in Your Lawnmower”

  1. Ethanol-blend gasoline is also detrimental to older vehicles which don’t have the fuel system designed as compatible with ethanol. Not only can it cause fuel system damage (rust/corrosion in tanks, hard lines, and carburetor and cracking of rubber components), it can bring on or aggravate vapor lock.

    For those who are too young to remember carbureted vehicles (or those who remember but don’t really understand them), the fuel pump was usually on the engine, meaning most of the fuel in the line was unpressurized, and the fuel in the carburetor was unpressurized. Vapor lock occurs when the fuel gets hot enough to form bubbles or boil, and the fuel pump can’t pump and the engine can’t run on fuel bubbles. This is why I’m having to do a complete redesign of my ’57 Chevy’s fuel system — to prevent shutting down in traffic due to vapor lock.

      1. Both your ’97 and ’00 are fuel injected, so you won’t get vapor lock from the blend, and they’re both supposed to be compatible with up to and including 10%. However, the EPA has only certified that ’01 and later can take 10%+ without fuel system damage. As a practical matter, it’s as you said: “How will you know if you’re getting an E10 or higher? You won’t. Gas stations are not required to state exactly what the blend is. So, the blend can be E10 or higher – you won’t know.”

        Here’s just one of many sites with a more-comprehensive explanation than I gave above:

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