Ethanol Gas Update

Our recently appointed “correspondent,” as I like to call him, known hereabouts as Lonesome Larry, is hard at work for us doing some great investigative reporting on the ethanol fuel issues that we reported on in a previous post about outboard motors and ethanol.

In his continuing research into the ethanol in gas issue, Larry provided us with a memo dated March 4, 2011 that went to operators of government owned vehicles that says since the introduction of ethanol (E10) to regular and mid-grade gasoline, users of small engines should purchase high grade gasoline for all government owned small engines.

The reasons for using high grade gasoline are similar to the reasons we gave in our previous post, ethanol has a short shelf life and reacts with moisture which causes it to separate in the gas, leading to damage of the engine workings, carburetors and fuel system components in a short amount of time.

According to the memo, the separation can happen fairly quickly, so gas stored for any length of time, as boat, lawnmower, and chain saw gas often is, will have separation problems. At some point, you could be running pure ethanol through your engine.

The government memo is clear, use high-grade gasoline in all 2-stroke and 4-stroke gasoline powered engines, including boats, all-terrain vehicles, chainsaws, portable water pumps, snowmobiles, generators, gas powered trimmers, lawn mowers, snow blowers, bush saws etc.

But the memo also adds something I hadn’t considered previously when it states that high-grade gasoline should be used in any gas powered engines or vehicles that are used on a seasonal basis or parked for a long period of time. It also says that they should have a tank of high-grade gasoline run through them before they are parked for an extended period.

That is something to consider beyond just small 2 and 4 stroke gas engines. If you don’t drive your vehicle a lot, or perhaps have a motorhome that is only used seasonally this would apply.

Perhaps a garden tractor at the camp, or a vehicle that you keep at your cottage for use there only, like a pick-up truck, or an antique or classic automobile that you only drive in good weather. If it’s going to be left sitting for long, you should be using high-grade gasoline.

So there you have it. If you are wondering, can I use regular gas in my small engine, the answer is straightforward….nope.

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