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OPEI Launches Ethanol Education and Consumer Protection Program

Ethanol EducationToday, there are more gasoline choices for consumers than ever before.

No longer can anyone pull into a gasoline filling station and assume the fuel from the pump is safe and legal for their specific small engines, UTVs and outdoor power equipment.

Currently, most fuel sold today at gas stations contains up to 10 percent ethanol (E10). However, in the past year, more stations are selling ethanol gasoline blends greater than 10 percent – such as 15, 30, 50 and 85 percent ethanol — often from a gasoline blender pump. And, higher ethanol blends are likely cheaper.

But, price is no longer the way to choose gas for outdoor power equipment such as mowers, garden tractors, chain saws, boats, snow throwers, trimmers, UTVs, power washers, blowers, chippers, grinders, generators, jaws of life, concrete saws and other compact construction equipment, as well as small engine applications such as water pumps and irrigation systems. Consumers need to choose the right fuel.

Are higher ethanol blends really that harmful to outdoor power equipment?

Yes. As an equipment manufacturer, dealer or seller, you know that most outdoor power equipment was not made for ethanol gas blends higher than 10 percent ethanol (E10). Greater than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment can corrode metals and rubber and cause engines to break down more quickly. Most outdoor power equipment was not built, designed or warranted to run on fuel greater than E10, and using higher ethanol blends can damage or destroy it. In fact, using any fuel that contains more than 10 percent ethanol is illegal to use in outdoor power equipment.

Why would someone choose higher ethanol fuels then?

Consumers might be tempted to use a higher ethanol blended fuel since it may be less expensive. But the fact is that the higher the ethanol blend, the lower the fuel economy. Ethanol contains 33 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, so engines fueled with higher ethanol blended gas will attain fewer miles per gallon than those running on conventional gasoline (E10). This means consumers must fill their gas tanks more frequently when using higher ethanol blended fuel.

How can I help spread the word?

First, OPEI asks all manufacturers, dealers and sellers to encourage their customers to reference their owner’s manuals to identify the right fuel for their engine product.

Additionally, to help the equipment manufacturing and dealer community with this critical issue, OPEI has launched the “Look Before You Pump” program to educate and protect consumers from misfueling their equipment. We encourage all manufacturers, dealers and sellers to join OPEI in this campaign and help us spread the word.

Visit the Web portal where you may download valuable educational materials that you may use in your sales and marketing brochures, in your store and on your Web site. Contact Chuck Bowen at OPEI with questions at

Materials include:

  • A hangtag to put on equipment
  • A stand-up poster with information cards for your sales counters
  • Fact sheets
  • A static-cling decal to put in your window
  • Shareable, video public service announcements (PSAs), and more

We also encourage you to spread the message to #LookB4UPump through your social media channels.

If you are a landscape professional, watch a special PSA message to your crews and staff here.

If you are an equipment manufacturer, dealer or seller, watch a special PSA message to customers here.