Look before you pump!

Look before you pump! Ethanol Education & Consumer Protection ProgramEthanol Education & Consumer Protection Program

Look at the fuel pump before dispensing gasoline and check the ethanol content. Outdoor power equipment was made to run on fuel containing no more than 10 percent ethanol. The same fuel you put in your car may not be the same fuel meant for your mower, chain saw, snow thrower, grass trimmer, or other lawn and landscape equipment. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) encourages users to reference the equipment’s operating manual for specific fueling requirements.

What is the ethanol situation?

Today, there are more fuel choices for consumers than ever before. No longer can anyone go to a gas station and assume the fuel from the pump is safe and legal for their specific automobile, lawn and landscape equipment or other small engine equipment.

Most fuel sold today at gas stations for automobiles and outdoor power equipment contains up to 10 percent ethanol (E10). However, in the past year, more gas stations are selling ethanol fuel blends greater than 10 percent – such as E15 and E85. This is problematic for anyone who owns or purchases small engine equipment, whether it’s a mower, chain saw, snow thrower, grass trimmer, or other lawn and landscape equipment. Most outdoor power equipment was not made for ethanol blends higher than 10% ethanol or E10.

In the past, consumers were physically kept from selecting the wrong fuel – with diesel you have to use a different pump, for example. This isn’t the case now as gasoline blender pumps, which dispense various ethanol fuel blends, become more widely available.

Consumers need to be vigilant starting today and look before they pump. Check to make sure you put the right fuel in the right engine product or automobile.

How did we get here?

In an effort to meet federal renewable fuel standards, higher ethanol blends are being brought to market.

In 2012, some retail gasoline stations began offering the new 15 percent ethanol (E15) fuel for sale. In addition, we saw the expansion of fuel blender pumps which dispense multiple mid-ethanol blends. The outdoor power equipment industry grew concerned. OPEI and the industry are not anti-ethanol; however, the industry recognizes that higher ethanol fuel can damage outdoor power equipment. We want to protect our customers and future customers from inadvertently damaging their equipment by using the wrong fuel.

The EPA has stated E15 and higher is not legal for use in off-road engine products, and only legal for a subset of automobiles. Yet, the only warning against “mis-fueling” is a small 3×5 pump label.

Given most consumers are unaware of even the current ethanol level in their fuel is up to 10 percent, the odds of using the wrong fuel is heightened. Most people believe any fuel sold at a gas station or other retail fuel station is likely legal and safe for any engine product. This is not true, and OPE owners and purchasers need to become aware of the fuel for which their equipment was designed, built and warranted – and use only that fuel.

If you need specific information about OPEI’s market forecast reports or other industry intelligence, please call Kristen Reamy at 703-549-7600 or email kreamy@opei.org.

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