A Word About Small Engines

I have many tools which rely on small engines…lawn mowers, tillers, augers, ATVs, weed-eaters, blowers, etc.

If you do, you may soon notice that they run poorly or not at all.  The 10% ethanol mandate was pushed through with no thought of the possible effects on small engines.  Apparently, ethanol and gasoline tend to separate, with the ethanol going to the bottom of your fuel tank.  This is wreaking havoc on fuel lines and any aluminum parts, particularly carburetors.  Your maintenance costs can skyrocket.

There isn’t a lot you can do about it, with a couple of exceptions:

1.  Run your tank completely out before adding fuel.  If you run it halfway out, then refill constantly, before long you are running something closer to straight ethanol.

2.  When you store your tools, at least in the Winter, fill up your tank.  I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but the expert i consulted said it is far better to crank up your tools every other week to keep the fule mixed.

Manufacturers are scrambling to catch up, but many are not honoring warranties for engines running this 10% mix.  (like you can buy it without)

Good luck!



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8 responses to “A Word About Small Engines

  1. W

    I’ve been doing a little lawnmower maintenance and our owner’s manual recommends some sort of gas stabilizer product when you’re storing the engine for long periods. It’s made by the same people as the engine (Briggs and Stratton) so I don’t know how valid it is.

    I think we lucked up because the manual says the engine will work on fuel up to 10% ethanol and it’s four years old.

  2. Well, my guy said stabilizers won’t help this particular problem. Cool though, that your mower can handle the mix.

  3. democommie


    So, the fact that I’ve had my chainsaw for 10 years and I haven’t done anything to it in the last 8 has nothing to do with the fact that it runs so badly? Hot damn! Actually I just bought a new one (same model, the Poulan “Wild Thing”) it’s a cheap machine @ $120 and I’ve done a lot of work with it. The old one doesn’t owe me a dime and since it leaks chain oil (the result of it’s getting pinched in the cut when the wind shifted a 65 foot poplar I was dropping) it’s prolly time to retire it anyway.

    I’ll keep your advice in mind with the new one.

  4. Yea, I had a wild thing, but it ALWAYS leaked oil. I wore it out eventually. Just got a brand new echo. The thing is a monster.

  5. The innuendos I’m reading into this are hysterical!

    I know…I earn my nickname on a daily basis, don’t I?


  6. democommie


    Oh, that’s it, rub salt in the wound. I keep thinking I want to buy a good chain saw, but since I use them for things like cutting nail-embedded beams and old sills, as well as cutting off the roots of trees, I think I’ll stick with the cheap ones.

    If I was working up firewood or cutting down trees on a regular basis I would buy an Echo, Stihl or Husky. Depending on who I talk to, any of them are the best in the business or utter junk.

  7. I’ve got two Stihls (one was a gift, no less) and I’ve never needed to do anything on the prder of tuning either one – just buying new blades every few years or so. I did have to replace the bar on the newer one this year. The new ones apparently only last about a decade before you have to buy a part.

    Democommie, I totally missed the memo on not cutting nails and tree roots with them.

  8. democommie

    Jim V.:

    There was a memo. Ah, hell; it was probably in the instruction booklet.

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