If you mow your own lawn, then you've probably dealt with gasoline quite a bit.
But did you know that improper storage and improper usage of gas is one of the biggest contributors to mower breakdowns.
Fear not, because we've got some tips that will keep your mower running at it's very best.
Follow these steps to extend the life of your lawn mower.
Gas Goes Bad - This might come as a surprise, but gasoline is only good for about 30 days. After that time, the volatile compounds in the fuel start evaporating. This occurs whether the gas is in the mower or in the gas can.
As the fuel evaporates, it forms brown gummy deposits. Eventually, these will turn into a hard varnish which can plug the fuel lines and carburetors. Once your fuel system has been compromised, you can expect poor engine performance, including lack of power, surging, or difficulty starting.
What Gas Should I Buy? - It's recommended to only buy name-brand gas from reputable service stations. This is because larger gasoline companies are more likely to employ strict quality-control testing on their products. Also, buying from a busy gas station will help ensure you're buying fresh gasoline.
When it comes to fuel, you can just buy the standard 87 octane gasoline. No need to go with mid-grade or premium for small engines, like those found on mowers.
Be Careful With Ethanol - Most gasoline, especially in the Midwest, contains up to 10% ethanol (a fuel compound derived from organic material, such as corn). Engines on modern mowers are designed to run on gas with up to 10% ethanol.
You run the risk of getting into trouble when you start messing with fuel consisting of 15%+ ethanol. This type of ethanol fuel will absorb water from the atmosphere, which can cause corrosion in the fuel system.
Lately, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) had been proposing legislation that would allow gas stations to sell fuel with up to 15% ethanol. There is push-back from legislators as well as power equipment manufacturers as the engines on their products are not designed to accept this fuel. In some areas this E15 fuel is being sold, but labels are required to indicate that the ethanol levels are higher than usual.
What Can I Do? - Don't worry, gassing up your mower is not an untenable situation. In fact, the solution for fuel problems is usually as simple as adding fuel stabilizer.
Add fuel stabilizer your gasoline, right when you purchase it. Stabilizer prevents gas from "going bad." It works by decreasing the rate of compound evaporation from gasoline. Stabilizer also prevents fuel from absorbing moisture from the air.