Dick of Michigan writes by email: “I hope you can help me. I have many lawn and garden pieces of equipment plus a snow blower and several tractors. I am storing half them over the summer and the others are in storage over the winter. I have heard that all gasoline today contains alcohol and that this can cause issues with the fuel system in my equipment. My questions include:
- Is it true that gasoline today contains alcohol?
- Where can I find gasoline that does not contain alcohol?
- If I can’t find pure gasoline, is there something I can use to treat the fuel to help prevent causing damage to my equipment?”
Thanks for asking, and you did hear right that there is alcohol in most gasoline today. The alcohol used is ethanol, also called grain alcohol or ethyl alcohol, and it is the same alcohol as is in wine, beer and whiskey. The ethanol is usually made from corn and then “denatured” so that it is not drinkable and then added to gasoline at the local fuel depot/distributor. Gasoline today contains up to 10 percent ethanol. There is a website (www.pure-gas.org) that lists stations that carry gasoline that does not contain ethanol. Ethanol-free gasoline also costs more.
Regarding your third question, I suggest that two things be done to help protect your equipment:
Keep the fuel tank full when not in use. Ethanol can absorb moisture from the air so if the tank is kept full, then there will be very little air in it. When ethanol combines with moisture, the ethanol separates from the fuel and sinks to the bottom of the fuel tank. It is this concentration of ethanol at the bottom of the tank where it can be drawn into the engine that can cause issues such as corrosion of the fuel system. It also could make the engine run rough.
A fuel stabilizer such as STA-BIL can be used every time the equipment is refueled. This can help keep the gasoline from oxidizing and also help prevent the ethanol from separating from the gasoline. Add the stabilizer to the fuel storage container used to refuel the equipment. Be sure to use fresh stabilizer in gasoline that is younger than 90 days old for best results.