Outdoor Power Equipment and the RFS

The RFS is dangerous for outdoor power equipment
just as much as it is for automobiles and other vehicle

“Our interest is to protect the consumer; we’re trying
to prevent the harm from happening in the first place.
… EPA has acknowledged there will be mis-fueling
with E15; there will be engine and product failure. This
is the reason the outdoor power equipment, boating,
UTV, snowmobile, auto, and motorcycle industries, as
well as the American Automobile Association (AAA)
and the Coast Guard, oppose this higher ethanol fuel.
Our interest is in protecting our customers.”

—Kris Kiser, OPEI President and CEO

Will this damage my lawnmower, boat,
jet ski, snowmobile, or four-wheeler?

“It sure will if you don’t pay attention. Generally,
small engines are not designed to deal with the more
corrosive E15 blend. And, as we mentioned in 2010,
ethanol forms a brown goo when left in a fuel tank
too long, which can clog fuel-system components.
Two-stroke engines run hotter with an ethanol blend,
which accelerates the potential damage. And ethanol
can wreak havoc on fiberglass fuel tanks in older
boats. Groups like the National Marine Manufacturers
Association and Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
have issued strong warnings to consumers to pay
attention to their fuels or risk severe engine damage. Use
a fuel stabilizer if the engine will sit for more than a few
weeks without use; this will reduce the ethanol–water
separation and potential gumming issues. Be careful to
avoid using E15 in uncertified engines like these, at least
until the subject is studied more thoroughly, and the
engineering catches up to the fuel.”

—Popular Mechanics

Are higher ethanol blends really that
harmful to outdoor power equipment?

“Yes. You might be tempted to use a higher ethanol
blended fuel since it may be less expensive. However,
greater than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power
equipment can corrode metals and rubber and
cause engines to break down more quickly. Most
outdoor power equipment was not built, designed or
warranted to run on fuel greater than E10, and using
higher ethanol blends can damage or destroy it. In
fact, using any fuel that contains more than 10 percent
ethanol is illegal to use in outdoor power equipment. Also, the higher the ethanol blend, the lower the fuel
economy. Ethanol contains 33 percent less energy
per gallon than gasoline, so engines fueled with higher
ethanol blended gas will attain fewer miles per gallon
than those running on conventional gasoline (E10).
This means you must fill your gas tank more frequently
when using higher ethanol blended fuel.”


“Manufacturers of outdoor power equipment and their
engines say they will not honor the warranty of a product
someone has been running with E15. The reason?
Besides the above effects of ethanol, engines running
even E10 gasoline run hotter. And with E15, the results
can be dangerous, considering reports of “unintentional
clutch engagement”—such as a powered-up chain
saw that suddenly decides, because it’s running so
hot, that you’ve pressed the button to start the chain.
Manufacturers see a train wreck coming because their
customers will ultimately blame them for problems.”

—Consumer Reports.org

“E15 is universally opposed by our entire industry
because of the problems it causes. … Research has
shown that using E15 can have harmful and costly
consequences on small engines and outdoor power
equipment. Most engines would have great difficulty in
meeting both emissions and performance expectations
with this type of alcohol range. … Most gas stations have
tanks where the supplier puts the mixed gasoline into
the storage tank and the pump pumps it up. Because
alcohol separates from gasoline, consumers can get a
higher mix of alcohol in their fuel. If you increase to 15%,
the effect gets multiplied, so you might end up with
double the alcohol you expected. That’s a problem.”

—Brad Murphy, of OPEI member Subaru Industrial Power Products