The Environmental Protection Agency recently gave the green light for
gas stations to start selling 15 percent ethanol-blended fuel, or E15. However, while E15 gas is now legal for use in cars, pickups, and SUVs manufactured since 2001, it is not approved for off-road engines.
Gasoline blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol — such as E15
and E85 — can cause permanent and irreversible damage to engines in
outdoor power equipment, according to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. Such damage typically is not covered by manufacturers' warranties.
That's why trade organizations such as the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and engine manufacturers such as Kohler Engines have mounted a PR campaign to urge users of all gasoline-power lawnmowers, riding mowers, power washers, portable generators, leaf blowers and other outdoor power equipment to pay attention at the pump.
"In a rush to introduce a gasoline with 50 percent more ethanol, E15
fuel is now
appearing at gas pumps across the country," the Outdoor Power Equipment
Institute notes on its website. "This introduction of E15
causes consumer confusion and significant problems, including engine
failure of common products, such as lawn and garden equipment,
generators, chainsaws and more."
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute offers these tips to help users properly fuel their lawnmowers and other equipment:
- Read and follow the owner’s manual. The manual will clearly explain what fuels can be used to ensure a properly functioning product.
- Don’t put any fuel containing more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) into small-engine products, unless otherwise stated.
- Check the gas pump to be sure that it is dispensing E10. Some pumps at local gas stations may offer both E10 and E15, or have blender pumps that dispense mid-level ethanol fuels for “flex-fuel” automobiles.
- Higher ethanol fuel (E15) may be less expensive than regular (E10) fuel, but putting E15 into an E10-approved product could cause product failure and void its warranty.
- Don’t assume that fuel pumped into a vehicle also can be dispensed into a gasoline can. Be sure to fill gas cans with E10 fuel only.
The bottom line: Do not use E15 fuel in:
- Boats and other marine-engine products.
- ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles.
- Outdoor power equipment such as chainsaws, snow throwers, generators, lawnmowers, lawn tractors and all other lawn and garden equipment.
"If E15 is used in any engine product (except some autos
2012 and newer and flex-fuel vehicles), it may void manufacturer
warranties and cause engine and fuel-system failures," the institute says.