Power gear group warns against high-ethanol gas Store signs highlight damaging effects of E15 gas
The gasoline most of us put into our cars and outdoor gear, with 10-percent ethanol, is available nationwide, and we pump E10 without a second thought. But a newer form of gas is good for only some cars—and a nightmare for outdoor power equipment. Nothing, in fact, warns you against filling up your mower, string trimmer, or gas can other than a little 3×3-inch warning label that competes for your attention with larger, bolder ads on the gas pump. So the outdoor power equipment trade group is waving the warning flag in Lowe’s, Walmart, and other stores.
That newer form of gasoline, called E15, has 15-percent ethanol, and ethanol causes small engines to run hotter and draw in water, which makes for tougher starting and eventually ruins seals, tubing, and linkages—all of which affect durability. Already 59 gas stations in 12 states carry E15, and the list is growing. If your car is newer than model year 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says using E15 is fine. For outdoor power equipment, the little sticker warns, “it may cause damage and is prohibited by federal law.” The industry’s trade group, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, knows that if you put E15 gas into your power gear and it overheats and quits, you might kick yourself for putting in “prohibited” gas.
It’s not the machine, it’s the gas
More likely, though, you’ll curse the manufacturer and swear never to buy that brand again—especially when you learn that practically no product warranty covers damage resulting from using gasoline with ethanol higher than 10 percent. OPEI last year began the program, Look Before You Pump, to educate and protect consumers and manufacturers. But more recently, the group has ramped up the program further, with warning signs displayed near the price tags in stores.
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