Ethanol could hurt your lawn mower

Tuesday, June 24th 2008, 7:25 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Mechanics say that ethanol could hurt the mileage you get in your car. Now, ethanol has been seen as being harmful for your lawn mower as well.

At O'Connor's Lawn and Garden, the mechanics are much busier than usual trying to repair engines.

"When I first started seeing it, to be honest with you, I was kind of puzzled at the problem; it took a little while for us to figure out what it was," Shaun O'Connor said.

O'Connor said the stories they hear from customers are similar; shortly after refueling their mower, the engine starts to cut out.

"They'll hit thick grass and before, where the mower would be very easily go through the taller grass, it's stuttering, and in a lot of cases it'll just die and they can't restart it," O'Connor said.

O'Connor says when they come to him, the first question he asks is, ‘Does your gas have ethanol in it?'"

"The answer is typically, ‘I'm using the same gas I've always gotten from the same gas station; it's never been a problem before'," O'Connor said.

Gas stations weren't selling ethanol blends before, and because most of them don't label their pumps, many consumers don't realize that's what they're buying and don't realize what ethanol will do to a small engine, especially the two-cycle engines you find on string trimmers, chain saws and blowers.

"Ethanol, the base of ethanol can separate the oil from the gas," O'Connor said. " We mix our gas and oil in a small hand-held piece of equipment, that's the lubrication for the engine, if you separate that and the engine is not lubricating properly, it will do major damage to the engine."

O'Connor says this has been rough on then as well because in many cases its mowers and equipment they've sold that fails, and customers want them replaced. He says they've done the best they can to accommodate everyone.