Older, Smaller Engines May Have Ethanol Problems

You have probably seen them - little stickers at gas pumps that say the gas contains ethanol.

Most cars can operate well on mixtures continuing up to 10% ethanol. Others are even made to run on up to 85% ethanol. It's a trend that's growing fast since ethanol is a renewable source.

However, as KLTV 7's Danielle Capper reports, the fuel can cause problems for your smaller engines.

Dan Cummins is back at the repair shop again.

"So, what was the problem?"

He lives on about 15 acres in Cherokee County, and has issues with his trimmer.

"I could not get it started so I would bring it in and they would say there is water in my gas. They would clean out my carburetor, I would take it home and it would start, run for awhile."

But not long, then he'd be back - the repair shop telling him again there was water in his gas.

Water that he wasn't putting in.

"What happened this last time I brought the unit in. The engine burnt up, lost compression."

"This is what I'm seeing everyday. And it's gotten really bad in the last 60 days."

Service manager Kevin Hopkins of Kirkpatrick Hardware says he's seen this same problem over and over.

Trimmers, lawn mowers, any machine with a small engine, all coming in with the same symptoms.

"It's not the equipments fault, not the repair shops fault, it's the fuel's fault," he told us.

The increased ethanol in the fuel mixture is causing problems. It burns hotter and creates moisture.

"Your ethanol is separating from your fuel."

But before you toss your equipment, there is an answer.

"Suggested customers go to unleaded plus. Higher octane, tend to have a better burning point...Never buy more than 1 or 2 gallons at a time if you are a homeowner. Do not let it sit. If it sits for more than 2 weeks put it in your car. Go buy fresh fuel," he advises.

Advice that Dan say's he'll listen to for this new unit.

"Fresh gas, fresh oil. Alright, I'll do that."

The repair shop also told us any small engine built after 2007 will not have the same problems with the ethanol in the fuel.

Danielle Capper, reporting. dcapper@kltv.com