The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the trade association representing power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, recently updated its free consumer and dealer education materials for its “Look Before You Pump” campaign in light of increased availability of higher ethanol fuel blends at gasoline filling stations. Gasoline containing greater than 10-percent ethanol (E10) can be harmful to outdoor power equipment and other small-engine products, including lawn mowers, snow throwers, power washers, string trimmers, chain saws, as well as other small-engine equipment such as boats, snowmobiles and utility vehicles.
“Using fuel with more than 10-percent ethanol in any gasoline-powered outdoor power equipment can void manufacturer’s warranties and damage the engine,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “We hope that equipment dealers, manufacturers and suppliers will distribute these updated materials and remind consumers to ‘look before you pump.’”
According to 2016 national polls by Nielson/Harris and OPEI, consumers remain confused about the changing fuels marketplace. Less than one-third — only 31 percent of poll respondents — knew that gasoline blends in excess of E10 are harmful to outdoor power equipment. Only five percent knew that gasoline blends in excess of E10 are not approved for use in small engines. Even more alarmingly, 60 percent of poll respondents assumed that any retail fuel is safe for any type of engine.
As higher ethanol blends enter the fuel marketplace, consumers must remember to select gasoline based on the products specifications, and not just choose fuel based on price. With more than 250 million pieces of outdoor power equipment currently in home garages, utility and maintenance sheds, and facility management stations, OPEI urges consumers to remain vigilant and always check their product manuals for proper fueling instructions.
“As an industry, we need to educate consumers about proper and safe fueling, so they can make smart decisions at the pump,” added Kiser. “The ‘Look Before You Pump’ materials can help dealers, suppliers and manufacturers initiate conversations about proper fueling with consumers.”
OPEI launched its “Look Before You Pump” campaign in 2013. Digital versions of the materials are free and available for download at tinyurl.com/EthanolEducation.