Fuel Tips: Lawn and Garden Equipment Needs the Proper Fuel, Too

Sponsored article presented by Sunoco.

 

The race tracks may have gone quiet–at least for a while–but engines still buzz away. You can likely hear them every single day: Just listen for all of the small engines powering lawn equipment.

Like our performance cars, these small engines can have special fuel requirements. A biggie that helps small engine performance: Fuel that is free from moisture.

How does moisture get into the fuel system? Easy: The moisture that’s part of the air we breathe is attracted to the alcohol found in most fuels. As stated right there on the pump, most gasoline sold today contains up to 10% ethanol.

Where modern cars feature closed fuel systems that prevent the vapors from escaping into the atmosphere, most lawn equipment makes do with an open fuel system. A simple vented cap provides the necessary pressure equilibrium between the tank and the outside world.

And that vented cap also allows air–complete with some moisture–to enter the tank. The moisture then mixes with the fuel. The result can range from no operational issues at all to an engine that runs poorly or even won’t start.

Zachary J. Santner, technical specialist with Sunoco Race Fuels, admits to salvaging more than one piece of discarded lawn equipment from the side of the road. The usual culprit that sends mowers and the like to the curb? A bum carburetor caused by fuel issues, he reports.

He offers an easy way to keep moisture out of your small engine’s fuel supply: Consider a gasoline that’s free from ethanol, especially for really small engines that can easily choke on moisture (like those found in weed wackers) and those that sit for a while (like rarely used rototillers, snowblowers or leaf chippers).

Most big-box home improvement stores sell ethanol-free fuel right there in the power equipment section. A 110-ounce can usually retails for $20, meaning about $23 per gallon.

Santner adds that Sunoco Race Fuels makes a fuel specifically engineered for storage: When properly kept, the brand’s ethanol-free Optima has a shelf life north of three years. This 95-octane fuel is also highly refined to be free of gunk–varnish, waxy residue and other trash that can stop a mower dead. A 5-gallon pail sells for about $70, making it more economical than the stuff sold in the lawn and garden center.

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Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/30/20 3:46 p.m.

Interesting, I still use the gas that I flush out my methanol fueled drag car with. Guess it keeps the moisture out.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
6/30/20 3:50 p.m.

I fill my mower with the left over race gas, it last for months without going off.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/30/20 4:25 p.m.

The one thing that I would love to see addressed is the fact that while ethanol will attract water, it also is the exact thing we put IN our tanks in the winter so that the water goes harmlessly through the system.  Its miscible quality with water is what makes that ethanol so valuable when water gets in our gasoline.

The same vented gas cap lets the same moisture into your lawnmower tank regardless of whether or not the fuel has ethanol in it.  I would rather have 10% ethanol and 2% water than have no ethanol and 1% water.

sir_mike
sir_mike New Reader
7/1/20 4:21 p.m.

In my really old lawn mower....early 1980's...I also add a lead additive like I use in my 68 and 69 cars.

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/1/20 6:03 p.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

The one thing that I would love to see addressed is the fact that while ethanol will attract water, it also is the exact thing we put IN our tanks in the winter so that the water goes harmlessly through the system.  Its miscible quality with water is what makes that ethanol so valuable when water gets in our gasoline.

The same vented gas cap lets the same moisture into your lawnmower tank regardless of whether or not the fuel has ethanol in it.  I would rather have 10% ethanol and 2% water than have no ethanol and 1% water.

Also why HEET is obsolete in winter in the majority of the country that has e10. If your fuel is 10% ethanol, you have two gallons of it in a 20 gallon tank......why add 12 more ounces? 

iceracer
iceracer MegaDork
7/1/20 6:14 p.m.

As I have said many times, I use the same gas as in my car.   10% ethanol.    No problems at all.

 sits all offseason with a little Stabil.

My 30 yr. old Craftsman mower starts and runs just fine.   

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 6:42 p.m.

lol $23 a gallon ...... hilarious! Race fuel for your $150 weedwacker? Does it have to be Sunoco, specifically? :D

While you're at it, that washer fluid you use in your car is only 30% methanol. If you really care about your windshield performing its best, just dump pure undiluted methanol in there.............. ;)

But seriously, GRM, if you really must have E-Free, you guys can drive 3 miles down the road to Halifax Harbor Marina (or pretty much any other marina) and get ethanol-free gas for $3.19/gallon.

--

My lawn equipment has lived for 20 years on a 50-50 mix of fresh (regular) gas station gas and "whatever old gas I drained out of my current project car when I got it." Never had any engine-related failures. 

 

 

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 6:55 p.m.

Lawn equipment makers drive me nuts.  When their fuel systems build up with stuff, they blame the fuel.  And get away with it.  The fuel is the fuel, and car makers have been robust to these materials for decades.

Why can't you?  It's just metal.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 7:06 p.m.
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) said:

Lawn equipment makers drive me nuts.  When their fuel systems build up with stuff, they blame the fuel.  And get away with it.  The fuel is the fuel, and car makers have been robust to these materials for decades.

Why can't you?  It's just metal.

because they need you to buy a new weedwacker every 5 years or they go out of business......

Cars....they rust out, get in accidents, or have other expensive repairs so people have to replace them. If lawn equipment cost $50 more and was made with high-quality stuff, it would probably never need to be replaced. 

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/1/20 7:23 p.m.

I take the old gas I get out of parts cars and mix it about 50/50 with new gas, then pour a little TC-W3 oil in there too since all my jet skis are gone and I still have a few jugs left. Am I bad for doing that? It does make some funky smoke occasionally. I figure I'm being 'green' for not pouring the old stuff in a storm drain.

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 7:58 p.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) said:

Lawn equipment makers drive me nuts.  When their fuel systems build up with stuff, they blame the fuel.  And get away with it.  The fuel is the fuel, and car makers have been robust to these materials for decades.

Why can't you?  It's just metal.

because they need you to buy a new weedwacker every 5 years or they go out of business......

Cars....they rust out, get in accidents, or have other expensive repairs so people have to replace them. If lawn equipment cost $50 more and was made with high-quality stuff, it would probably never need to be replaced. 

They can find more creative reasons for failure.  Still, cars last a very long time- last I checked, the average car is 11 years old now.

Still makes me really mad- even told thst to the box store guy selling me a chipper/shreder.  Kinda risky blaming the fuel in this area, when so many are in the auto industry, and none of us have that problem.  We know the truth.

mikeatrpi
mikeatrpi HalfDork
7/1/20 8:12 p.m.

I run premix in my saw and trimmer.  I use a qt or so each season.  Am i wasting money?  Maybe.  It smells good so..... I'm ok with it

NorseDave
NorseDave Reader
7/1/20 8:30 p.m.

After 2 weed wackers and 2 more carbs for said wackers in about 6 years, I started using the Ethanol-free stuff based on a recco from a local small engine repair shop.  That was like 8 years ago, and it's run perfectly ever since, so I'm not inclined to change.  I just run normal 87 in the mower though. 

Peabody
Peabody UltimaDork
7/1/20 8:39 p.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

lol $23 a gallon ...... hilarious! Race fuel for your $150 weedwacker? Does it have to be Sunoco, specifically? :D

While you're at it, that washer fluid you use in your car is only 30% methanol. If you really care about your windshield performing its best, just dump pure undiluted methanol in there.............. ;)

But seriously, GRM, if you really must have E-Free, you guys can drive 3 miles down the road to Halifax Harbor Marina (or pretty much any other marina) and get ethanol-free gas for $3.19/gallon.

Jul 1, 2020 | Sunoco, Fuel Tips, Sponsored Content |

outasite
outasite HalfDork
7/1/20 8:45 p.m.

With 5-6 months of winter, I have always used ethanol free gasoline in all of my small engines, Mercury 115 and Miata which is stored. It is available at most gas stations here since it is recommended for boat engines. We have had 10% ethanol since the 80s and people still buy Heet in the winter. 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 9:05 p.m.
Peabody said:
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

lol $23 a gallon ...... hilarious! Race fuel for your $150 weedwacker? Does it have to be Sunoco, specifically? :D

While you're at it, that washer fluid you use in your car is only 30% methanol. If you really care about your windshield performing its best, just dump pure undiluted methanol in there.............. ;)

But seriously, GRM, if you really must have E-Free, you guys can drive 3 miles down the road to Halifax Harbor Marina (or pretty much any other marina) and get ethanol-free gas for $3.19/gallon.

Jul 1, 2020 | Sunoco, Fuel Tips, Sponsored Content |

hence my comment lol....

still seems funny that Sunoco's sponsored content is imploring us to put $20/gal race gas in our $100 weedwackers.

djsilver (Forum Supporter)
djsilver (Forum Supporter) Reader
7/1/20 9:20 p.m.

I use the normal E10 stuff and fill my lawnmower to the top of the filler neck after each use.  That keeps air out and fuel clean.  I haven't had any problems cranking it in the spring after storing it outside year round. (full disclosure, I live near Savannah, GA so winter is relative....,)  If I have fuel left over at the end of the season, I pour it in my truck and start over the next spring with fresh gas.

Peabody
Peabody UltimaDork
7/2/20 12:00 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Funny? It's ridiculous

KozyB
KozyB New Reader
7/4/20 6:14 a.m.

Lawn equipment is very simple, and the fuel systems are open to the environment.  There is no alcohol-fee pump gas in my vicinity, and therefore the available gas breaks down pretty quickly as well as gains water.  

All of my fuel cans get the factory prescribed dose of Stabil every time I fill them.  This seems to work pretty well at keeping the component of the fuel tied together.  Further, it's just not that hard to empty the lawn equipment tanks into sealed containers at the end of each lawn season, and then run the engines 'til dry.  Using these processes, I've been using the same B&S lawnmower engine (been through a few decks) since 1994.  My chainsaw, weedwacker, edger, lawnmowers, and generator all get the same treatment.  As somebody else already said, I have repaired a huge number of lawnmowers left for dead by friends (I repair them for the cost of any new parts I have to buy) or that I trashpicked (and then given to friends or family).  Rebuilding or replacing carburetors and cleaning fuels systems is is not hard, but it's all pretty unnecessary with a little preparation (fuel stabilizer and running the engines dry at the end of the season.

When you can buy a new lawnmower for $150, do you really expect it to be fuel injected with a sealed fuel system?

Best regards and end of rant,

George

 

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/4/20 7:49 a.m.

In reply to KozyB :

George,

the system should be robust enough to not even require Stabil.  Let alone constant Carb rebuilds. 
 

that's what drives me nuts. 

RevRico
RevRico PowerDork
7/4/20 8:38 a.m.
mikeatrpi said:

I run premix in my saw and trimmer.  I use a qt or so each season.  Am i wasting money?  Maybe.  It smells good so..... I'm ok with it

This. Bought a quart of the ethanol free premix with the new weed eater trimmer machine. I'm going to get a year out of that can. Seems a fine trade off for me to have a clearly marked and labeled container that doesn't look like all my other gas cans, and doesn't absorb water. 

My fuel options within 20 miles are regular E10, E85, regular and off-road diesel. That's it. 

I have never EVER drained my mower or small engine stuff at the end of the season. EVER. My mowers have never had fuel related issues, but all of my secondhand equipment has come to me with slight amounts of gas in their water tanks. 

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