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Ethanol damaging small engines, repair shops say fuel additives are solution

Ethanol in small engines

The current fuel from pumps, which contains 10 percent ethanol, is already damaging smaller engines like lawn mowers at an increasing rate.

News 12 This Morning / Tuesday, July 19 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol is closer to coming to a gas station near you. The EPA approved new labeling for E15 in June.

The current fuel from pumps, which contains 10 percent ethanol, is already damaging smaller engines like lawn mowers at an increasing rate.

Some engines start sputtering even before they get started.

"Probably 90 percent of everything that comes in here for a repair is fuel related," said Tommy Pennington of Pennington Power.

The company's workers say the culprit is the ethanol that's in your fuel.

"It will actually melt the rubber fuel lines. It will melt the gaskets and the carburetor," Pennington said.

This clogs the internal parts like carburetor which can cost up to $100 to replace.

It's an issue Denard Williamson is trying to learn more about, as he's spending his summer mowing his family's lawn.

"My dad told me about how water was in the gas and it tears up the engine," he said.

The gas he is getting from the corner gas station contains ethanol and it's hard to find a pump that doesn't have a 10 percent ethanol sticker.

The solution is a fuel additive that slows down the process.

"This is just one of many products that helps treat the ethanol problem," said a Pennington Power sales associate. "It keeps the fuel from separating and helps prevent it from pulling moisture into the tank."

Ethanol can collect moisture and feed off of the humidity in the air. When it sits for long periods of time ,you get a clear separation. The dark liquid on the bottom is what is clogging your lawn mower's parts.

"Kind of worries me that I'll be having to get a new lawn mower soon," Williamson said.

If you think your new mower is immune to deteriorating parts, think again. A mower sent in for repairs at Pennington Power was used once before it broke down.

Back in May, the U.S. Consumer protection Agency recalled various lawn-powered equipment made by STIHL. You can find more information here.

The USCPA website states the problem is present when the fuel cap is distorted by the ethanol, allowing fuel to spill and create a fire hazard.

The new labeling for E-15 has a disclaimer on the bottom of the label which prohibits anyone from using the fuel in gas-powered lawn equipment.

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