Small Engines Having Fuel Issues?

Published on March 20th, 2015 | by Jacks

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Having Fuel Issues?

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Most of the complaints heard by small engine repair technicians seem to stem from problems with ethanol fuel. Ethanol is alcohol which is an excellent solvent. It can dissolve plastic, rubber, fiberglass, and more. Ethanol is also hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water.

Over time, the ethanol in fuel can harm small engines if it is left in storage too long. In an effort to help you save money and extend the life of your power equipment, we would like to offer these suggestions.

Buy only a 30 Day Supply of Fuel

Fuel deteriorates over a period of time. Once enough of the volatile compounds in the fuel evaporate, the machine can become hard or impossible to start. Continued evaporation will cause the formation of gummy deposits that can become a hard varnish.

These deposits can clog the passages in the carburetor, preventing the machine from running properly, or causing it to stop running completely. If these deposits prevent the carburetor’s float needle from sealing properly, fuel leaks can also occur.

Use a Fuel Stabilizer

Use a fuel stabilizer like Sta-Bil, Startron, or Seafoam the day you purchase the fuel.


These products contain stabilizers that can help prevent evaporation, water absorption, gum and varnish formation, and corrosion that can be caused by E10 fuel. In addition, these products may extend the shelf life of ethanol fuel.

Buy Fresh Fuel

Using name brand fuel from a busy station will help ensure the fuel’s freshness. Name brand fuel producers are more likely to follow quality control guidelines and sell clean, fresh fuel with correct additive levels.

Use Gasoline Without Ethanol

If possible, use gasoline without ethanol. This will greatly reduce the possibility of moisture the gasoline can absorb from the atmosphere. An Internet search for “ethanol free gasoline” will help you determine the availability of it in your area.

End of Season Storage Guidelines

Jack’s can give you suggestions on the proper way to prepare your equipment for off season storage, like this step-by-step guide for Proper Small Engine Storage.

Final Thoughts

It is important to note, that the shelf life of untreated E10 fuel is 90 to 100 days from the refinery under ideal environmental conditions. So by the time you fill up at the gas station, it’s shelf life could have drastically decreased. It is also important to understand that no additive can totally eliminate the problems discussed in this article.

Fuel Stabilizers and Additives can slow the problems associated with E10 fuel. Be sure to read and understand your equipment’s owner’s manual before using any outdoor power equipment.

Jack’s Safety Tips: Before servicing or repairing any power equipment, disconnect the spark plug and battery cables. Remember to wear appropriate safety glasses and gloves to protect against harmful chemicals and debris. View our Disclaimer.

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About the Author

Jack's Small Engines has been providing parts for outdoor power equipment online since 1997. We also run a service center for outdoor power equipment like riding mowers, snow blowers, generators, chainsaws, and just about anything else.



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