An online study of more than 2000 adults, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), has revealed an ever-increasing number of outdoor power equipment owners are using the wrong type of fuel.
In 2018, 11 per cent reported using E15, E30, E50, or E85 to fuel their equipment, up from seven per cent in 2015. Outdoor power equipment manufacturers have warned consumers that most products are designed and warranted to run on E10 (fuel with 10 per cent ethanol) or less. It is also illegal to use fuel with more than 10 per cent ethanol in any outdoor power equipment according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Higher blended fuels containing more than 10 per cent ethanol have been shown to damage the equipment. Mid-level ethanol fuels are known to phase separate further endangering equipment,” says Kris Kiser, the president and CEO of OPEI, an international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. “If damaged, consumers may have to pay for costly repairs or replace equipment.
“What goes in your car or truck may not be safe to put in your lawn mower, and consumers are not paying attention and making unintended mistakes. Yet pump labelling and consumer education are inadequate. As ethanol continues to be subsidized, more stations sell it. We are concerned about consumer safety and choice.”
Researchers also found that roughly two thirds of all respondents (66 per cent) believe ethanol-free gas should be more widely available at gas stations. Many, in fact, mistakenly believe that higher ethanol blends are safe for any engine.
“We believe this lack of knowledge is due to consumers blindly trusting gas stations will only sell fuel that is safe. The EPA must do more to educate fuel users,” says Kiser, citing the poll found nearly two thirds of all respondents (65 per cent) assume any fuel sold at the gas station is safe for all cars, as well as boats, mowers, chain saws, snowmobiles, generators, and other engine products.
To help educate consumers on proper fueling of outdoor power equipment, the OPEI launched a campaign in 2013 called ‘Look Before You Pump.’ For information, visit www.lookbeforeyoupump.com.