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What does ethanol do to small engines?

Discussion in 'Mechanic and Repair' started by exmarkking, Nov 2, 2013.

  1. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,012

    We use our equipment year around for the most part. I do drain fuel and run dry everything. The mowers are affected as badly as the handheld equip. We run all redmax and it seems to eat up fuel lines, the grommets on the fuel tank, primer bulbs and the gaskets on the inside of the carb. Maybe different brands use different rubber and there for some equip last longer without problems verse other brands? Could it be the area of the country some live in?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  2. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    I don't see these issues you folks speak of, maybe a little at first, a few gaskets gave way but it could have just been lack of maintenance, either way my stuff runs pretty flawlessly most of the time (or no worse than any other time).

    Actually, cheap 87 octane does that.

    I run premium and my stuff is shiny clean.

    I can see that it's mostly a farm subsidy that increases the overall price of food in the store, and that it simply diverts the problem rather than solving it, overall I can agree with what you're saying, I don't think it harms engines the way folks tout but that it's a waste of time, we can agree there.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  3. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    Part of the solution is to not use cheap fuel line. I know that's hard to do with the tiny 1/8" and smaller lines on trimmers and such. For bigger machines like mowers, a switch to American made EFI certified rubber fuel lines cures the problem forever. The quality control of imported fuel lines is questionable at best, and should be made criminal.
  4. themadcutter

    themadcutter LawnSite Senior Member
    from florida
    Messages: 914

    I don't think it actually harms engines but it does harm fuel systems. and it can't be stored for any length of time. in a small engine it can gum up the carb pretty quick if fuel is left un touched over a season.

    It is a useless program and actually may not save any "fossil fuel" as I here there is a definite 2% MPG disadvantage with eth gas and the fuel cost associated with growing and creating the ethanol also removes what ever savings we were shooting for.
  5. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    Stale fuel gumming up the carb is an ages old problem that didn't suddenly start with ethanol fuel. The Varnish (Gum) that is left behind after fuel evaporates is a gasoline issue, not the ethanol. Ethanol is very clean compared to gasoline and leaves very few deposits after it evaporates.
  6. exmarkking

    exmarkking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,012

    Ethanol attracts water also
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. dboyd351

    dboyd351 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    Sure does, and if you get enough water in there the fuel will go into phase separation where the ethanol combines with the water to make a thick jelly like substance. I think that may what themadcutter is referring to when he says ethanol fuel gums things up.
  8. ricky86

    ricky86 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,122

    If an engine is used regulatly, that does not happen. If it's not stored correctly, that's a different story.
  9. Will P.C.

    Will P.C. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 966

    This is just speculation which is a poor form of politics, but I don't think the small engine companies/small mower/handheld companies have come up with solid parts that are directly affected by ethanol like rubber grommets, fuel lines, and other parts that solvents directly effect.
  10. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,356

    Back in the day when you had adjustment screws you could compensate for this gumming up of the passages condition for a while. Not so anymore and with carbs getting smaller passages as they continue to lean out fuel ratios for emissions it will get worse.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    ericg likes this.

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