Ethanol fuel is bad for small gasoline engines. This includes most of the equipment consumers and landscape professionals commonly use on lawns and landscapes. Fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol may void product warranties, and by federal law, it is illegal to use higher-ethanol fuel blends, specifically E15 (15 percent ethanol), in outdoor power equipment.

A Department of Energy study several years ago found that E15 caused hotter operating temperatures in small engines, erratic starting and engine part failure. But, the study also found that even E10 damages small engines. Ethanol settles out of gasoline, attracts moisture and, in sufficient quantities, corrodes engine parts.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), through its “Look Before You Pump” outreach, continues to remind consumers not to use gasoline fuels with more than 10 percent ethanol, E10.

OPEI reinvigorated that message late last year when it learned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is requiring 18.11 billion gallons of renewable fuels (i.e., ethanol) in 2016 as part of its Renewable Fuels Standard. This is a 7 percent increase over the 16.93 billion gallons required for 2015, and 11 percent more than for 2014. The OPEI is concerned the seemingly ever-growing amount of ethanol being mandated by the government will end up in mid-level ethanol fuels.

The OPEI represents the interests of more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility manufacturers and suppliers – and, in a real sense, the people who use the equipment they manufacture and market.

“A mandated fuel of greater than 10 percent ethanol ignores the fueling requirements of the 400 million legacy engine products in use today,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI.

Rather than risk hard starting and engine failures that could lead to lost production or engine damage, many landscape pros now regularly use a fuel additive to protect engines from ethanol. At the 2015 GIE+EXPO this past October, five companies offered fuel additive products, not just for gasoline, but for diesel engines as well. One of the companies, Gold Eagle, maker of the new STA-BIL 360°, earned The Power Equipment Dealer’s Choice Award.

Check out the fuel additive products offered by these five exhibitors at the 2015 GIE+EXPO:

Users of small gasoline-powered equipment can lessen the chance for engine failure caused by ethanol fuels by avoiding using them whenever possible.

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