Friday, March 21, 2014
Ethanol fuel and outdoor power equipment.
Fuel issue's are the number one problem we see coming into our shop. When ethanol fuel was first introduced into our market I was concerned, but felt some confidence in the message we were getting from the engine manufacturer's. Every single engine manufacturer we work with stated their engines were E10 ethanol safe.
It didn't take long for us to suspect there may be some problems (wanna' save yourself some reading, watch the video we just posted here).
The first issue we had was with a generator repair. Gasoline powered generators have always had fuel issue's. They typically sit for far longer periods than most power equipment. This one came to us with a fouled fuel system. We did our typical fuel system cleaning and repair, tested the machine, then the owner took it home.
About 90 days later he tried to use it. It ran but poorly. Irritated he brought it back to us and we assured him we'd rectify any fuel related issue's no charge.
We found that the fuel in the tank had gone bad already! We cleaned it all out again, and sent it out once again. And then the next one came back.... and the next. At this point we're taking a lot of heat and really not enjoying it.
Time for further investigation. We contacted a fuel treatment supplier and asked what their experience was. They stated their product would double the shelf life of fuel, which was enough to satisfy most fuel requirements. This was when fuel would last 6 month's to a year. Now the shelf life was as short as 30 days, so doubling it may give you 60.
Addidtionally parts were failing. Fuel filters would melt, the fuel shut off needle in the carburetor would get sticky and stick shut, fule lines and primmer bulbs were failing.
We ran two tests at our facility. One was to simply pour some fuel into a clean while 5 gallon bucket and let it sit. Within one week the ethanol started seperating from the fuel and settling in the bottom of the container. This means if your law mower didn't get shaken well enough before you tried to start it, it was getting pure ethanol instead of mixed. If it ran at all it would run very poorly. The second test was to put a short piece of new fule line into a beacker filled with ethanol fuel. By the end of just day one there was visible expansion indicating the ethanol was attacking the rubber.
Today things are better. They are using products other than buytl in rubber which has alleviated many of the part failures. It still goes bad faster, and still attacks the fuel lines in a lot of equipment out there.
Do yourself a favor, buy the non-ethanol fuel from a locally owned fuel station (most nationally owned stations don't have non-ethanol available). Buy only as much fuel as you estimate you'll use in a month, add a good fuel stabilzer to it.