Contractor Confronted by Ethanol Issue

As this contractor discovered, the danger of running high ethanol content in small air-cooled gasoline engines is real.

After reading the article "Beware of E15" in the October issue of Equipment Today, Wes Kendrick, Colfax Construction in Raton, NM, called our office to add his own personal experience with running high ethanol content in small air-cooled gasoline engines. Kendrick depends on chain saws on his jobsites. Recently, he had a saw fail, so he went to a backup saw and it too failed. This may have seemed like a strange coincidence until he had yet another failure. Just in case you are counting, that is three saws.

Kendrick knew something was drastically wrong. On the phone, the service technician told him to pull the muffler and take a look at the piston, which he did. The piston was scarred; therefore, the engine had no compression. This was not going to be an inexpensive repair. After a little investigation, it was discovered that the problem was the fuel. The local gas station had switched to an ethanol blend.

Video: Be Sure to Use E10 or Lower Ethanol-Gasoline Blends

In small towns, finding another source for fuel often isn't a realistic alternative. The solution came in the form of a fuel additive. But it was too late to prevent the damage already done. Kendrick exclaimed, "I wish I would have known then what I know now."

Kendrick wanted to pass on this information so other contractors are informed. With all of the different gasoline blends appearing throughout the country, make sure you carefully read the label at the pump and ensure the fuel meets the specs of the equipment you are using. It sounds like a pain, but it beats the problems you may encounter later. Consider that most warranties do not cover mis-fueling.

Have you run into equipment problems related to high ethanol fuel blends? Share your stories/comments in the comments box below.