What’s the Right Fuel for Landscape Power Equipment?

If you buy a new mower, trimmer, snowblower or other piece of equipment, you may find a warning in the owner’s manual to not use certain grades of ethanol-blended gasoline. But what is ethanol and what harm can it do?

What's the Right Fuel for Landscape Power Equipment? - Landscaping zero turn mowerEthanol is an alcohol fuel distilled from plant materials, such as corn or sugar. It’s typically mixed with gasoline in a ratio of 10 percent ethanol to 90 percent gasoline (known as E10). Other common blends include E15 and E85.

The U.S. is currently the largest producer of ethanol fuel. According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the U.S. is projected to produce a record-high 15.1 billion gallons in 2016. Ethanol offers the benefits of spurring the economies of corn-growing states like Iowa and Nebraska, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and burning more cleanly. However, it can negatively affect your outdoor power equipment.

Ethanol produces 33 percent less energy than non-ethanol gasoline, which leads to decreased fuel efficiency and reduced power. Ethanol can also separate from gasoline and bond with water, settling to the bottom of the tank. This can cause a host of issues, such as fuel-tank corrosion and formation of gums and varnish that can clog fuel lines and cause the carburetor to run “lean” with more oxygen. This results in hotter engines and potential damage.

As a general rule, E10 fuels are approved for use in small engines, but be sure to read your owner’s manual for the best information on recommended fuels.

Here are five fuel tips to help keep your equipment running strong:

  1. Use fresh fuel every time. All fuel degrades with time. When at the pump, stick to purchasing what you need for the job at hand.
  2. Use fuel stabilizer. If you have to store fuel for more than 30 days, be sure to stabilize it with a quality fuel additive. AMSOIL Quickshot® stabilizes fuel between uses and during short-term storage. If you need to store for a season, use AMSOIL Gasoline Stabilizer to fight fuel degradation.
  3. Consider ethanol-free gasoline, especially for trimmers, blowers and other handheld equipment. Using an ethanol-free gas provides increased power and easy starts so you can get the job done right. Depending on your location, you can perform a Google search for the nearest station that sells ethanol-free, or “non-oxygenated,” gas.
  4. Never use E15 or E85 fuels in your power equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not recommend these fuels in small engines, and using them could affect your manufacturer warranty.
  5. Keep moisture out of your fuel containers. Keep your gasoline containers sealed and stored in a cool, dry place to prevent water intrusion. When it’s time to fuel up, shake the container to disperse any residual water molecules.


  1. I found it interesting when you said that ethanol can separate from gasoline and bond with water and described the many issues that can be caused by that, leading your engine to need repairs. I used to think that ethanol fuels were beneficial! Thank you for the information on learning what best to use to prevent hot engines and potential damage to my machines!

  2. I advised my father to use a fuel stabilizer in his old riding lawn mower. He did not and we replaced the carb, and fuel pump. (he does now) I have used a stabilizer ( recently Amsoil fuel stabilizer ) as soon as the news was out. I have had no problems in my 20 year old push mower, 2009 riding mower , and my 2009 motorcycle. I did not use a stabilizer in my 2 cycle power saw gasoline and now I am looking for a carb and replacing the plastic fuel line.
    I have been in the automotive business since ignition points went out of style. A lot of changes have occurred since those days and learning to roll with the punches has kept our business alive and well.

  3. Nick,

    Using AMSOIL Quickshot will help with the ethanol problems. There are many places around the country where you can’t get E free gas. I’ve had great luck using the quick shot in all my gas EVERYTIME. As far as never using AMSOIL, well don’t shoot the messenger! They are just explaining some of the problems that they are seeing from other customers and through testing.

  4. As a proud corn grower I am done using Amsoil products after read this article. I use 10% Ethanol in all my small engines (ATV’s, lawnmowers, pumps, etc.) with no problems. Support USA grown renewable fuels. Only problem I have had was using ethanol in a previously dirty fuel system, the ethanol cleaned the fuel tank and plugged filters, I replaced the fuel tank and never had another problem using ethanol.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Using 10 percent ethanol will have mixed results for each user. If you are consistent in turning over E10 in your equipment and have no issues, there’s no need to switch to ethanol-free gas. Certain handheld equipment manufacturers, such as Echo, recommend ethanol-free gas to help extend engine life, but it is not required. As mentioned, ethanol does contribute to the economy. It’s also a renewable alternative to the controversial additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE). Thank you for reading and taking the time to write.

    2. You don’t have to believe AMSOIL. Go to any of the larger small engine, lawn and garden equipment repair shops and ask them.
      They love your Ethanol. All day long every day they are replacing carburetors, fuel lines. My daughters shop keeps UPS in business just bringing Carburetors, and kits.

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