Ethanol Fuel and Lawn Mowers

Ethanol Fuel and Lawn Mowers

Tips on Using Ethanol Gas in a Lawn Mower

You may have noticed ethanol becoming a more common option at the gas pump, particularly if you live in the Midwest. Many times, it's cheaper too, so you might be tempted to use it in your lawn mower and other power equipment.

Before you do so, you should understand what ethanol is and why too much can seriously damage your equipment. The extra money you save at the pump won't mean much if you have to replace a lawn mower.


What Is Ethanol?

Ethanol Biofuel Harvest

In the United States, ethanol is used as an additive to gasoline. Because it's produced from crops such as corn or sugar cane, it's labeled a biofuel and considered a renewable resource.

In its discussions on ethanol, the U.S. Department of Energy has mentioned some of its advantages as a fuel source:

  • Has a higher octane rating than traditional gas, which makes it more powerful
  • Offsets some of the carbon dioxide released in fuel emissions when biofuel crops are grown
  • Creates agricultural and production jobs in rural areas

Typical gasoline used in the United States contains up to 10% ethanol (E10). However, in Midwestern states, where crops are plentiful, gasoline with 15% (E15) ethanol is becoming popular. 

Ethanol Fuel RatingIs Ethanol-Free Gas Better for Lawn Mowers?

Not every engine is made to handle ethanol-rich fuel. E15 gas should be used only in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which can burn either traditional gas or gasoline-ethanol blends, or in cars and trucks made in 2001 or later.

For your mower, you should not use gasoline with an ethanol rating higher than E10.

Because ethanol fuel will absorb water directly from the atmosphere and subsequently retain it, ethanol is especially hard on the carburetors of small engines. Also, the higher alcohol content in E15 fuel is more corrosive to a small engine's fuel lines than normal gasoline.

Ethanol Fuel StabilizerWill Fuel Stabilizer Help?

If you live in an area where most or all of the gas has ethanol additives, there's still hope for running your gas-powered mower. With the use of lawn mower fuel treatment in the form of fuel stabilizers, you can still safely run power equipment using ethanol fuel.

The stabilizer, specifically designed for use with ethanol fuel, prevents corrosion and removes water from the fuel. It will also clean the entire fuel system, including its most important parts:

  • Carburetor
  • Intake valve
  • Fuel injector

Ethanol fuel has its advantages, even though ethanol-rich gasoline can present some problems for mowers. However, making sure that your mower contains the proper fuel blend, or adding a stabilizer when you're filling the gas tank, can keep your mower running for the long haul.

NEXT: How to Safely Lift a Riding Lawn Mower

Dale, the Power Equipment Expert
Power Equipment Expert
Was this article helpful?