Normal maintenance (replacing air filters and spark plugs) and routine servicing such as rebuilding carburetors, adjusting the fuel mixture within the allowable range or replacing jets for high altitude operation are still perfectly acceptable.
Don’t take these new changes too far, though. Trying to place a new sealed fuel cap on an older pre-EPA fuel system won’t help the environment. Rather, it will cause fuel starvation because the engine won’t be able to vent properly. Doing the opposite, placing a vented cap on a new EPA-certified fuel system, will cause even bigger problems. The engine will experience uncontrolled emission losses, plus it’ll be in violation of EPA regulations.
Finally, don’t try to replace a carbon canister cap with a standard cap. Equipment that meets the so-called “50 state” product distribution guidelines — meaning it meets CARB standards and can be sold in California — may have a special fuel cap with a self-venting carbon canister built in. Replacing these caps with a standard cap, or replacing a sealed cap with a canister cap, violates EPA regulations.
What can be done
From personal use to operating a small business, there are a few steps to help make this transition a little easier. The first is education, and the above information should have that goal almost completely covered.
The manufacturer should provide much of the rest, such as a list of any critical emission-related maintenance. Other recommended maintenance and the corresponding schedules also will come from each manufacturer. Following those guidelines will ensure the equipment brings you the best return on the initial investment.
When a generator, for example, requires a replacement part, it’s still acceptable to use new or rebuilt parts made by independent parts manufacturers. It’s vital, however, to ensure those parts meet the engine’s original specifications. Using an aftermarket part that doesn’t conform to the original part’s design and function can void the emission-related warranty. Following basic manufacturer guidelines and replacing parts, when needed, with like parts will ensure the greatest return on investment.
In terms of the warranty, each new engine sold will offer at least two years of warranty coverage on its emission components. The warranty covers the repair of emission-control-related parts that are found to be defective within the first couple of years of service. Each manufacturer will include a phone number and email address in the operator’s manual to ensure quick, easy access to filing a warranty claim. Ensure none of these parts are tampered with since that may void the warranty, but know that things will get repaired quickly when needed.
Any piece of equipment that has survived the long haul and predates EPA emission standards won’t need to be altered to meet the new standards. It should continue to be regularly maintained as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure its continued long life.
Follow a manufacturer’s maintenance schedule closely for new equipment, as well. Generators and other small-engine equipment will last even longer than anticipated when routine care and maintenance are performed according to the operator’s manual. Be sure to seek out qualified engine technicians for assistance on more advanced tasks to ensure the engine will continue to meet EPA standards and run smoothly into the future.
More than anything, know that new small-engine products will be the best on the market. Besides the penalties and hazards that come with tampering with emission-control components, it’s just ridiculous to do so. While the EPA estimates that small-engine equipment will cost a bit more under the new regulations, the agency also asserts that durability will improve and fuel efficiency will increase with the changes. In short, the small-engine products purchased today are a better value in the long run for not only the consumer, but the environment.
Understanding the component parts involved in reducing emissions will make it easier to perform basic services and preventive maintenance. Knowing the do’s and don’ts under the new standards will ensure warranty claims are a breeze and that the equipment runs at peak performance, both of which are sure to maximize the investment.