Lawnmower/gas issues

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psteinx
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Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by psteinx » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:10 am

SUMMARY: My gas lawnmower keeps having problems (starting/running) that are likely largely attributable to bad gas (ethanol related?). I'm looking for suggestions.

------

So, for at least the 2nd time this summer, my circa 2007 Toro self-propelled push mower, with gas Briggs and Stratton engine, had issues starting and staying running for more than a few seconds. Each time this has required a visit to a shop to get it running again.

This is for relatively light duty use - perhaps 4-5000 s.f. of grass, mowed once a week-ish or less.

I use a small engine repair guy - basically a one man shop who does lawnmowers and the like.

According to him, most of my problems are due to fuel issues, mainly water and a bit of dirt that clog the nozzles or whatever.

(I am not an engine guy. Also, while I don't have any special reason to doubt what this guy tells me, I wouldn't mind second opinions...)

He says, basically, that at ~7 years, the engine should still have life left in it, that Briggs and Stratton is a good engine, and that these kinds of problems are very common with today's ethanol supplemented gas. I live in Missouri and apparently it is very very difficult to obtain ethanol free gas from gas stations here - you can buy some specially canned at the hardware store, albeit at MUCH higher prices than simple gas costs.

So, I don't want an engine that needs a visit to the engine repair guy every 2 months, or even, ideally, every year.

I don't want to buy a new mower and simply repeat the problems of the old mower.

He suggested that I should get my gas from a different gas station, but I think that's a shot in the dark - the gas stations I get gas from are, I believe, reputable major brands.

I use a plastic gas can, fairly high capacity (~5 gallons), but usually only get 1 to 1.5 gallons at a time, and then add a stabilizer. One post on a forum indicated that you should top off your lawnmower tank between mowings, so that there is less air to bring in humidity (water vapor). It occurs to me that this could be a problem with my gas can, but again, I don't really want to take a shot in the dark replacing random things unless there is at least semi-strong reason to believe they're an issue.

Basically, I'm not sure how water and apparently some dirt also is getting into the fuel that's in the lawnmower. I'd obviously like to prevent this, or failing that, to find a solution less susceptible to this issue.

Some may suggest I get an electric or push mower, but my yard is hilly and spread out, the grass can get thick and long at times, and I like the power and easy maneuverability of a gas self-propelled mower.

---

Anybody have similar problems and/or suggestions?
Last edited by psteinx on Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

sport
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by sport » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:46 am

I don't know what part of the country you are in. However, in my area, we cut grass only part of the year, and the mower sits in the garage or shed all winter without being used. If this is your situation, here is a regimen I followed that was successful for many years:
1. Before putting the mower away for the winter, run it until it runs out of gas. Leave the gas tank empty.
2. Remove the spark plug and pour about a tablespoon of motor oil into the cylinder. Pull the start cord slowly, or turn the key to coat the inside of the engine with oil. Be careful, oil may spurt through the hole.
3. Replace the spark plug.
In the spring, all I needed to do was put gas in it and start it up. It smoked for a minute or two as the added oil burned off. After the first use, while the engine was still hot, I changed the oil. My last mower was 17 years old when I moved from the house and I gave it to a relative. That was 8 years ago, and it is still in use. It is an Ariens self-propelled walk-behind with a Techumseh engine.
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psteinx
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by psteinx » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:11 am

I'm in Missouri (mow roughly April-November), and my most recent issues have been mid-season, not at the start of the mowing season.

JoinToday
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by JoinToday » Fri Sep 05, 2014 1:26 am

I am having issues starting my Honda lawnmower also ( but 15 - 17 yrs old). I happened to be near a reputable lawnmower sales/repair place, and stopped in to ask the repair guy. He said typically:
1. Old gas
2. Jet are clogged, carburetor is dirty
(sound familiar?)

Given the labor rates, and given that prices of new carburetor have dropped, he said the cheapest option is to just buy a new carb & replace it, rather than paying them to clean & rebuild the old one. Surprisingly (I guess it is not really surprising), carb prices on the internet are dirt cheap.

Throw out your gas (put in your car) at the end of the season. I also forked out for some metal 1 or 1.5 gallon gas cans. Gas doesn't deteriorate anywhere near as fast as in metal gas cans compared to plastic gas cans

Good luck. I (almost) enjoy doing the physical labor of yardwork, but I absolutely hate having problems starting my mower/edger/blower/weedeater. My shoulder muscles are sore the next day from pulling the damn cord.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by mhalley » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:41 am

I just don't buy that it is the ethanol in the gas. gasahol has been around for years, and if it was causing premature implosions of lawn mowers it would be a major story. dirt in the lines is not about the alcohol in the gas. I guess the ethanol can cause some water. I never put stabilizer in my toro and have had no problems whatsoever. Have you changed the fuel filter? I don't know much about engines, but I recall listening to some of the car talk shows discuss this and they poo-pood the idea of gasahol causing problems. A new gas can, and perhaps a filtered funnel might help. The briggs and stratton web site states that up to 10% ethanol, 15% MTBE is fine. Looks like mo has 10% ethanol. The stabilizer should help take water out of the gas as I recall. Certainly gas can sometimes be poor quality, so switching stations couldn't hurt. I guess you could bump it up to a higher octane to see if that will help.
http://www.briggsandstratton.com/eu/en/ ... uel-filter
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by gwrvmd » Fri Sep 05, 2014 3:43 am

Apparently todays gas, all of which has 10% ethanol, except marine gas, causes some type of sludge in todays small engines. That is why marine gas, which is often used in small engines, does not have ethanol.
Most small engine repair mechanics blame ethanol which is now up to 10% in gas.
What I have learned to do and it works pretty well: Buy a small bottle (4-6oz) of fuel injector cleaner that is sold in auto supply stores or generically in Dollar General for about $3.00. Run the mower until it is 3/4 empty, pour I/2 bottle of fuel injection cleaner in and run it until it is almost empty. That should keep the mower running well for about 2 months. When it gets sluggish again, repeat.
It takes me about 2 bottles (4 treatments) a year to keep my mower out of the Small Engine Repair Shop.

I also do my MILs lawn. Two treatments a year keeps hers running well

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scarr34
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by scarr34 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:04 am

1. It could be bad gas. Drain the gas tank. Then also drain the carburator before refilling the tank.
2. Remove the air filter. If the mower starts, then replace filter.

Hope this helps,
Steve

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Professor Emeritus » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:54 am

My small engine colleague told me that evaporation of the light fraction of the gas is responsible for most engine starting problems. He buys gas by the half gallon.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by goalie » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:16 am

I started have issues like this. I always bought the cheapest mower and when the last one aged out, I went used & electric on Craigslist. I love it. People ask about mowing with a corded mower. The key is to mow AWAY from your power source, so there is zero chance of running over the cord. I love it so much, I sold my gas trimmer and bought a Work GT, from the infomercial on TV. I am over a year into the switch. No gas, tune ups, tough starts and the like. :moneybag Chip

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by The Wizard » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:36 am

I've had zero problems using regular gas (with 10% ethanol) in both my lawn blower and snow blower.
I leave the gas tank partly full in each machine, wherever it happens to be, when I'm done using it for the season.
I've been doing this for 30 years and probably will continue.
I buy regular gasoline about five gallons at a time for those two machines plus my chainsaw, for which I blend up one gallon of two-cycle mix at a time.

My girlfriend, however, has a lawn tractor than had problems starting last spring.
After having it serviced, the diagnosis was that ethanol may have been the culprit; I'm not totally convinced, but it runs OK now...
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by triggerfish10 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:38 am

I am not an engine guy either, but I have heard that ethanol is bad for small engines, so I use an ethanol free premium (91 octane gas) in my lawnmower and snow blower. I also buy just 1 gallon at a time and put fuel stabilizer into my plastic gas can every time I fill it up, just in case it sits around for awhile. I had to do an internet search to find a station in my area that carries ethanol-free fuel, but I found a place relatively close to my house. Not sure where the OP lives in MO but this link will show which stations in MO have an ethanol-free fuel option: http://pure-gas.org/index.jsp?stateprov=MO.

Incidentally, my car takes premium fuel, and I have started filling it up at this particular station, as it doesn't cost me any more, and I get better gas mileage than if I use gas with ethanol.
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dickenjb
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by dickenjb » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:59 am

I have had the same exact problem with my snowblower. Even running it dry at the end of the season and using fuel stabilizer, twice I have had to take it in to have the carburetor cleaned. My guy also blames the ethanol and suggests I go to a marina and buy marine gas.

I found a website that identifies ethanol free gas stations by state. Would have to Google it again to find it but thought I would switch this winter. I found a station in Allentown PA that has it.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by HardKnocker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:05 am

Those Briggs and Stratton engines are junk.

I had the exact same problem with a Toro mower. I replaced the engine with one from Harbor Freight which runs beautifully.

Unless you are able to do this yourself I'd buy a new mower. The new Toro mowers are fitted with Kohler engines. Guess why? BS engines are lousy. Sad to say for a USA made engine like BS but they are junk.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by dickenjb » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:12 am

HardKnocker wrote:Those Briggs and Stratton engines are junk.

I had the exact same problem with a Toro mower. I replaced the engine with one from Harbor Freight which runs beautifully.

Unless you are able to do this yourself I'd buy a new mower. The new Toro mowers are fitted with Kohler engines. Guess why? BS engines are lousy. Sad to say for a USA made engine like BS but they are junk.
My snowblower has a Kohler engine and the carburetor still clogs.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by chmcnm » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:04 am

I have the same mower. It always starts. I also ride dirt bikes and atv's. It's the gas.

Buy premium gas from high volume gas station in small quantities. Add marine Stabil to gas. Run a bottle of Seafoam the lawn mower over the next few weeks.

Bio-diesel is even worse on some old Diesel engines.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by JonnyDVM » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:07 am

After three years my mower kept stalling out. The repair shop said it would take 2-3 MONTHS before they could get to it. I found a video on U-Tube and fixed it myself. I think it was this one but you could certainly find one that meets your needs. It really wasn't that hard- basically just cleaned and lubricated and problem solved. For what it's worth I have been told (by my FIL who is an engineer) that Briggs and Stratton engines are junk and Honda is the way to go.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wHVZwV_ztE
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by jimb_fromATL » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:36 am

HardKnocker wrote:Those Briggs and Stratton engines are junk.

I had the exact same problem with a Toro mower. I replaced the engine with one from Harbor Freight which runs beautifully.

Unless you are able to do this yourself I'd buy a new mower. The new Toro mowers are fitted with Kohler engines. Guess why? BS engines are lousy. Sad to say for a USA made engine like BS but they are junk.
Yeah. The B&S engine on my last Snapper riding mower only lasted something like 22 years. I asked the dealer where I bought if it would be covered under warranty, but he said it was only warranted for 21½ years.

To some extent you get what you pay for. The slightly more expensive small engines from B&S and others have cast-iron cylinder sleeves which are harder and last longer than the inexpensive engines that only have aluminum cylinder walls.

One common theme I've observed with people who complain about their mower/lawn tractor engines not lasting long. When asked how often they change the oil the answer is typically "never" or very seldom. They'll all wear out faster if you don't change the oil frequently enough; and since they work in such a dirty and dusty environment, if you don't change the air intake filter fairly often. But the ones with cast iron sleeves will typically last a lot longer even with neglect.

... And there will be more carburetor and starting problems if you leave old fuel in the gas tank to sludge up. One thing I do nowadays to keep the ethanol from dissolving/softening the rubber and plastic parts in the fuel system is try to time it so it runs out of fuel, or else empty out the remaining fuel from the tank when the mower is going to be sitting unused for more than a few days. I have fewer starting problems since I've started doing that. It seems to be even more important not to leave fuel in the tank for 2-cycle machines.

I try to time it to keep the fuel fresh ... no more than a few weeks old during mowing season, and not storing it over the winter. I have not had much luck with fuel stabilizers.

It's also a good idea to clean the area around the fuel filler and oil filler caps to make sure that no dirt or dust gets into the gas tank or crankcase before you add gas or check or add oil. And oh, by the way, DO check the oil frequently and keep it topped up ... and to re-emphasize: clean.

jimb

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by HoosierJim » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:47 am

If you have spark, 90% of what goes wrong in a small engine occurs between the two flanges of the carb


Image


Replaced this on mine - works like a champ - about $20

http://www.amazon.com/Oregon-50-659-Car ... carberator

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by tim1999 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:59 am

My main mower is probably 25 years old and has a Briggs and Stratton engine. I always used ethanol-free gas until it was unavailable ( :x :x :x ) in my area. After that I began having problems with it. It either would not start, or would quickly cough, sputter, and die. A friend recommended I use a product called "Sea Foam" in the gas and it has worked fine since then. Starts on the second pull every time now.

Edit: I also run the machine out of gas before putting it away for winter, and avoid using gas that's more than 2-3 months old.
Last edited by tim1999 on Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Ged
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Ged » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:16 am

It's grunge building up in the carb. Gasoline by itself is unstable in storage; it oxidizes and eventually turns into varnish. Ethanol makes it worse.

What you can do about it -

1. Don't buy cheap gas. Get it from Shell, Exxon etc. If you can get it without ethanol.
2. Don't store gas over winter. Use it up in the fall.
3. Add Stabil when you buy the gas. Stabil is worth every penny.
4. Before you put the mower away for the week run the carb dry so there is no gas in it. You can do this a number of ways, drain the gas tank, put a valve in between the tank and the carb, etc.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by fsrph » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:18 am

psteinx wrote:
I use a plastic gas can, fairly high capacity (~5 gallons), but usually only get 1 to 1.5 gallons at a time, and then add a stabilizer.
I've had a lot of the same issues. What kind of fuel stabilizer are you using? A Toro mechanic told me to use Stabil Marine (green color). He said Stabil (red color) doesn't have adequate ethanol protection. So it's best to use Stabil Marine but if you have some Stabil (red color) already just buy ethanol stabilizer and use both. Stabil Marine looks more expensive than the red but you use less of the Marine. Stabil Marine solved all of my ethanol / fuel problems in my lawnmower.

http://www.amazon.com/Marine-Formula-St ... bil+marine

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:19 am

Here is my solution: http://amzn.com/B0045VL1OO

Paired with my "weed wacker": http://amzn.com/B00004SD6Y

A small to medium yard. Never buy gas or oil again. :-)

My dad has worked on lawn mowers for several decades. He prefers Briggs to Tecumseh. They all have their foibles and cheaper parts.

The Honda and other OHV engines are nice, but harder to work on. Similar to newer cars.
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Rupert
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Rupert » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:27 am

I've had the same problem with my mower and weed eater. My repair guy also says it's the ethanol in the gas gunking up the engines. He recommended buying non-ethanol gas from a station that caters mostly to recreational boaters. There are lots of recreational boaters where I live; so that's easy enough to do.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by an_asker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:28 am

fsrph wrote:
psteinx wrote:
I use a plastic gas can, fairly high capacity (~5 gallons), but usually only get 1 to 1.5 gallons at a time, and then add a stabilizer.
I've had a lot of the same issues. What kind of fuel stabilizer are you using? A Toro mechanic told me to use Stabil Marine (green color). He said Stabil (red color) doesn't have adequate ethanol protection. So it's best to use Stabil Marine but if you have some Stabil (red color) already just buy ethanol stabilizer and use both. Stabil Marine looks more expensive than the red but you use less of the Marine. Stabil Marine solved all of my ethanol / fuel problems in my lawnmower.

http://www.amazon.com/Marine-Formula-St ... bil+marine

Francis
+1. I don't know much about the mechanics of these machines and so was skeptical when the lawn-mower repair dude who I picked off Craigslist went off on a spiel about ethanol and that I should be using Stabil Marine. But after my trusted auto mechanic echoed the sentiments, I followed through with the recommendation.

BTW, I am in FL, so most likely more humidity than OP.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Bengineer » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:45 am

scarr34 wrote:1. It could be bad gas. Drain the gas tank. Then also drain the carburator before refilling the tank.
2. Remove the air filter. If the mower starts, then replace filter.

Hope this helps,
Steve
My first thought as well - bad gas or water in the tank. Drain, clean out the tank, get fresh gas. Draining was a PITA on the B&S I had, as the carb & tank were integrated. Check for clogged air filter as well. If it is oiled foam you can clean it. I don't know where your mower & tank live. but if it is out in the rain, water may be getting into your can or mower tank.

A smaller gas can + stabilizer might be a good idea to keep the gas fresher, minimize the air/water vapor space in the can and absorb the water that does get in.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by miles monroe » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:58 am

when my 1 year old mower wouldn't start the guy at the repair shop said it was from ethanol. i now buy gas for the mower that is ethanol free. i found plenty of options using this website:

http://pure-gas.org/

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by an_asker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:29 am

miles monroe wrote:when my 1 year old mower wouldn't start the guy at the repair shop said it was from ethanol. i now buy gas for the mower that is ethanol free. i found plenty of options using this website:

http://pure-gas.org/
Based on the responses on this thread (and maybe most of you already feel this way), it appears to me that the issue is not just ethanol. It is the 'ethanol gas' sitting for a long time without being used. In other words, cars that regularly get used don't have issues (of this magnitude), else you would have all cars failing to start as well. I am not disputing that ethanol impacts car engines as well; just that the impact is not as pronounced as it is for mowers.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by psteinx » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:45 am

Thanks all for the tips.

I will probably try switching from the red Stabil I've been using to the marine version, and will take a look at Seafoam, and switch to a smaller metal gas can.

I had already found the pure-gas.org (i.e. non-ethanol) website.
Problems:
1) While there appear to be Missouri stations, they are not in the St. Louis area, but more outstate - ~50 miles+ or so away.
2) I'm not sure how they prove that a station uses ethanol free gas
2b) Per this 2008 article: http://www.semissourian.com/story/1300974.html, it appears that under what I presume to be typical economic conditions, Missouri gas stations cannot sell ethanol free gas, and in any case, there is no labeling requirement (so lack of a "contains ethanol" label doesn't really mean a pump is ethanol-free.)

Basically, when you live in a state with a large corn farming constituency, it may be difficult to avoid ethanol in your gas.

The video showing the guy removing a nut from his Toro and cleaning the holes (injectors?) was interesting, and the mower is similar to mine, but not the same (mine doesn't have a primer button). While I'm not an engine guy, I'm not entirely incompetent with tools, and if I could access the problem part of the engine/carburetor and fix the problem, when it occurs, in 10-20 minutes or less, that would be great. I guess if my other approaches don't resolve the problem, I'll make at least a brief attempt to self-fix, next time.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by psteinx » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:48 am

an_asker - I will admit that I didn't use to be vigilant to old gas issues, but for a while now, since earlier brushes with this problem, I've tried to buy gas in smaller quantities, use a stabilizer (red Stabil, mainly, I think), and not keep gas over the winter. This season, with my many problems, I don't think the gas in my can was ever more than perhaps 3-4 months old, and had theoretically been protected by stabilizer.

Not that there couldn't have been problems anyways, but it's not like I'm dragging out a can with 5 year old gas in it from a barn. :)

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by an_asker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:50 am

psteinx wrote:an_asker - I will admit that I didn't use to be vigilant to old gas issues, but for a while now, since earlier brushes with this problem, I've tried to buy gas in smaller quantities, use a stabilizer (red Stabil, mainly, I think), and not keep gas over the winter. This season, with my many problems, I don't think the gas in my can was ever more than perhaps 3-4 months old, and had theoretically been protected by stabilizer.

Not that there couldn't have been problems anyways, but it's not like I'm dragging out a can with 5 year old gas in it from a barn. :)
Me too. Since that issue, the max I've bought at any one time is $3.00 worth which is less than a gallon nowadays. Previously, I used to buy nearly two gallons AND let it sit across seasons.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:01 am

I have the same exact model, purchased in the same exact year. There is nothing wrong with a B&S engine, they are good engines.
When was the last time you checked and changed your engine oil? if it's gray, it's time to change it. Once per year is recommended. At the end of the season, run the motor until it conks out, open the gas cap and make sure there is very little left in it. Change the spark plug ever now and then. Give old Betsy a wash-down, oil the wheels, a light coat of wax on the paint, wipe it off - you should be good to go for next spring. Do all that and the motor should be good for at least 10 more years.

Stop using Stabil - take $5/$6 cash with you and go to Home Depot (notice I said "cash"), pick up a bottle of this brown looking fluid which comes in a cylindrical bottle called "Ethanol-Free" or something like that - drop 1 oz. per 5 gallons or so - it will alleviate any ethanol problems, use it for your lawnmower and use it for your sno-blower and it will preserve the gas much like Stabil does.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:03 am

psteinx wrote:an_asker - I will admit that I didn't use to be vigilant to old gas issues, but for a while now, since earlier brushes with this problem, I've tried to buy gas in smaller quantities, use a stabilizer (red Stabil, mainly, I think), and not keep gas over the winter. This season, with my many problems, I don't think the gas in my can was ever more than perhaps 3-4 months old, and had theoretically been protected by stabilizer.

Not that there couldn't have been problems anyways, but it's not like I'm dragging out a can with 5 year old gas in it from a barn. :)
Winter gas formulations (October to May) has ethanol, summer gas is not mandated to contain ethanol unless specific to your particular state (California comes to mind).
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:20 am

mhalley wrote:I just don't buy that it is the ethanol in the gas. gasahol has been around for years, and if it was causing premature implosions of lawn mowers it would be a major story. dirt in the lines is not about the alcohol in the gas. I guess the ethanol can cause some water. I never put stabilizer in my toro and have had no problems whatsoever. Have you changed the fuel filter? I don't know much about engines, but I recall listening to some of the car talk shows discuss this and they poo-pood the idea of gasahol causing problems. A new gas can, and perhaps a filtered funnel might help. The briggs and stratton web site states that up to 10% ethanol, 15% MTBE is fine. Looks like mo has 10% ethanol. The stabilizer should help take water out of the gas as I recall. Certainly gas can sometimes be poor quality, so switching stations couldn't hurt. I guess you could bump it up to a higher octane to see if that will help.
http://www.briggsandstratton.com/eu/en/ ... uel-filter
Mike
Unfortunately you are wrong. Higher ethanol blends are the problem. Why they are more of an issue now is that they are more prevalent and the E10 blend actually has a tolerance level up to about E15. It is very tough on small gasoline engines.

Briggs says that 10% is fine, FOR A NEW ENGINE. The older engines (mainly the tank, lines, and gaskets) are not well suited for even E10.

Find a different gas station first. Put some fuel stabilizer in your fuel for a few tanks. Or, get a new mower.

How do I know? I run an engine company.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by an_asker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:26 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
psteinx wrote:an_asker - I will admit that I didn't use to be vigilant to old gas issues, but for a while now, since earlier brushes with this problem, I've tried to buy gas in smaller quantities, use a stabilizer (red Stabil, mainly, I think), and not keep gas over the winter. This season, with my many problems, I don't think the gas in my can was ever more than perhaps 3-4 months old, and had theoretically been protected by stabilizer.

Not that there couldn't have been problems anyways, but it's not like I'm dragging out a can with 5 year old gas in it from a barn. :)
Winter gas formulations (October to May) has ethanol, summer gas is not mandated to contain ethanol unless specific to your particular state (California comes to mind).
My thought was that gas contained ethanol not to meet mandates but to increase profit. [I'm obviously, not in CA] Was I wrong?

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by psteinx » Fri Sep 05, 2014 2:02 pm

Quick follow-up:

Turns out I've most recently been using the Briggs & Stratton branded stabilizer (also red in color), not Stabil. But I've used Stabil in the past and had the same issues, if I recall correctly.

I picked up a can of Seafoam and will try it. My local Lowe's apparently does not stock the marine version of Stabil.
Last edited by psteinx on Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by HardKnocker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 4:59 pm

dickenjb wrote:
HardKnocker wrote:Those Briggs and Stratton engines are junk.

I had the exact same problem with a Toro mower. I replaced the engine with one from Harbor Freight which runs beautifully.

Unless you are able to do this yourself I'd buy a new mower. The new Toro mowers are fitted with Kohler engines. Guess why? BS engines are lousy. Sad to say for a USA made engine like BS but they are junk.
My snowblower has a Kohler engine and the carburetor still clogs.
Kohler's must be junk too. Perhaps it's just Toro's that are junk. :wink:
Last edited by HardKnocker on Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by HardKnocker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:01 pm

jimb_fromATL wrote:
HardKnocker wrote:Those Briggs and Stratton engines are junk.

I had the exact same problem with a Toro mower. I replaced the engine with one from Harbor Freight which runs beautifully.

Unless you are able to do this yourself I'd buy a new mower. The new Toro mowers are fitted with Kohler engines. Guess why? BS engines are lousy. Sad to say for a USA made engine like BS but they are junk.
Yeah. The B&S engine on my last Snapper riding mower only lasted something like 22 years. I asked the dealer where I bought if it would be covered under warranty, but he said it was only warranted for 21½ years.

To some extent you get what you pay for. The slightly more expensive small engines from B&S and others have cast-iron cylinder sleeves which are harder and last longer than the inexpensive engines that only have aluminum cylinder walls.

One common theme I've observed with people who complain about their mower/lawn tractor engines not lasting long. When asked how often they change the oil the answer is typically "never" or very seldom. They'll all wear out faster if you don't change the oil frequently enough; and since they work in such a dirty and dusty environment, if you don't change the air intake filter fairly often. But the ones with cast iron sleeves will typically last a lot longer even with neglect.

... And there will be more carburetor and starting problems if you leave old fuel in the gas tank to sludge up. One thing I do nowadays to keep the ethanol from dissolving/softening the rubber and plastic parts in the fuel system is try to time it so it runs out of fuel, or else empty out the remaining fuel from the tank when the mower is going to be sitting unused for more than a few days. I have fewer starting problems since I've started doing that. It seems to be even more important not to leave fuel in the tank for 2-cycle machines.

I try to time it to keep the fuel fresh ... no more than a few weeks old during mowing season, and not storing it over the winter. I have not had much luck with fuel stabilizers.

It's also a good idea to clean the area around the fuel filler and oil filler caps to make sure that no dirt or dust gets into the gas tank or crankcase before you add gas or check or add oil. And oh, by the way, DO check the oil frequently and keep it topped up ... and to re-emphasize: clean.

jimb
22 years ago BS were probably good. Those made now are junk.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by jeffyscott » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:02 pm

Bacchus01 wrote:
mhalley wrote:I just don't buy that it is the ethanol in the gas. gasahol has been around for years, and if it was causing premature implosions of lawn mowers it would be a major story. dirt in the lines is not about the alcohol in the gas. I guess the ethanol can cause some water. I never put stabilizer in my toro and have had no problems whatsoever. Have you changed the fuel filter? I don't know much about engines, but I recall listening to some of the car talk shows discuss this and they poo-pood the idea of gasahol causing problems. A new gas can, and perhaps a filtered funnel might help. The briggs and stratton web site states that up to 10% ethanol, 15% MTBE is fine. Looks like mo has 10% ethanol. The stabilizer should help take water out of the gas as I recall. Certainly gas can sometimes be poor quality, so switching stations couldn't hurt. I guess you could bump it up to a higher octane to see if that will help.
http://www.briggsandstratton.com/eu/en/ ... uel-filter
Mike
Unfortunately you are wrong. Higher ethanol blends are the problem. Why they are more of an issue now is that they are more prevalent and the E10 blend actually has a tolerance level up to about E15. It is very tough on small gasoline engines.

Briggs says that 10% is fine, FOR A NEW ENGINE. The older engines (mainly the tank, lines, and gaskets) are not well suited for even E10.

Find a different gas station first. Put some fuel stabilizer in your fuel for a few tanks. Or, get a new mower.

How do I know? I run an engine company.
Well, I had a Toro with a B&S engine for 16 years with not one repair ever. I used gas containing ethanol the entire time. When it died 1.5 years ago the engine was still fine the issue was electrical...no spark. I also never drained gas I just used stabil in it. Same deal for Toro snow blower, still running with no engine problems going on 19 years of ethanol gas and stabil.

Now we have a battery powered electric mower, which is what I would recommend to the OP. We mow about 10,000 sq. ft. in an hour. No gas, no oil, no spark plugs, no air filters. Our mower is so light we don't even need self-propelled any more, weighs about 45 pounds with a battery in it.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by HardKnocker » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:03 pm

Gasoline starts to gel in about 2 months. Don't store gas for long periods.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by moorso » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:08 pm

If you have a 2 stroke engine (must use mixed gas), run it out of gas in the fall. If you have a 4 stroke engine (gas and oil seperate) , fill the tank with gas that has "seafoam" added to it according to directions, and run it long enough to suck the seafoamed gas into the carb, then top off the tank. Simple as that. This recommendation goes for all engines, and is all you need to know. I run a tank or two of seafoamed gas in my motorcycle once in a while to clean out the engine. It is a gas stabilizer as well.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by gougmonk » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:52 pm

My very experienced small engine man related the following: Ethanol - gas mixture is fine for running through small engines but it does not store well, it gums up after a few months. He makes his living cleaning out clogged carbonators. He recommends running the tank and carbonator dry before storage at the end of the season. I have had good success using this philosophy as well as adding stabilizer to a nearly tank at seasons end and making sure some of the mixture ended up in the carbonator.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by 6miths » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:37 am

Ethanol and old gas are issues if gas is not used for a season. As mentioned, one option is to run the engine empty in the fall. Another option is to use gas with no ethanol which will likely cause less problems in general and store longer. Some stations premium gas is ethanol free. In my area, Shell premium has no ethanol and the pumps have dedicated hoses so you don't have to worry about the regular gas in the line at the start of the fill. I definitely use this in my all my 2 stroke engines. Other common cause of trouble is dirt/sediment in the gas. Small gas cans tend to get abused or the spout falls over during filling or with handling. One can put a fuel filter on the fuel line. Pulling the spark plug and inspecting it now and then isn't a bad idea. It's easy to see when it is gummed up. Clean it either way. I bought a used Toro 5 years ago, it starts first pull every time and is now 23 years old. My experience with Toro's has been good and the 2 Honda's I've used have also been very good although I wish that their highest wheel setting was a bit higher. Seems like Honda thinks that everyone is mowing the greens and fairways at Augusta and never goes away for a week.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by WhyNotUs » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:47 am

I was having trouble with my engine on sailboat until I went ethanol-free. Now using it in my boat, snow thrower and mower
For a list of locations to purchase ethanol free gas, go to:

http://pure-gas.org
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by rustymutt » Sat Sep 06, 2014 5:30 am

Always treat your gas with Stabilizer that contain ethanol treatment. Ethanol draws moisture, and that's what causes the issues with motors. When they sit for long periods, over winter, specs of remnants of moisture build up on the needles inside the carbs.
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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by mhalley » Sun Sep 07, 2014 3:17 am

I wouldn't think that a 2007 engine would be considered "old". Certainly I could be wrong, I don't know when the small engine companies changed their manufacturing process to better accomidate gasahol.
Mike

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by tim1999 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:31 am

an_asker wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
psteinx wrote:an_asker - I will admit that I didn't use to be vigilant to old gas issues, but for a while now, since earlier brushes with this problem, I've tried to buy gas in smaller quantities, use a stabilizer (red Stabil, mainly, I think), and not keep gas over the winter. This season, with my many problems, I don't think the gas in my can was ever more than perhaps 3-4 months old, and had theoretically been protected by stabilizer.

Not that there couldn't have been problems anyways, but it's not like I'm dragging out a can with 5 year old gas in it from a barn. :)
Winter gas formulations (October to May) has ethanol, summer gas is not mandated to contain ethanol unless specific to your particular state (California comes to mind).
My thought was that gas contained ethanol not to meet mandates but to increase profit. [I'm obviously, not in CA] Was I wrong?
You are incorrect. The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 mandates that a certain volume of "renewable" fuel be blended into fuel used for vehicles. The annual volume increases over time. The industry has no choice but to comply. It costs them more, since the tank terminal operator typically charges a fee for the ethanol to be blended in to the gasoline at the tanker truck loading rack. The ethanol also generally cannot be shipped by pipeline (the water/corrosion issue, notice a theme?) so it must be shipped by other means which are more expensive than transporting gasoline via pipeline. Personally I wish ethanol would go away but that's probably not happening.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by Fletch » Sun Sep 07, 2014 7:28 am

I use Shell or Exxon premium for all my air cooled small engines. I also use Stabil brand stabilizer year round at about twice the minimum dosage. I never buy more than 1 month's worth of gasoline at a time so it stays fresh. I start my small engines at least every one to two months year around: Deere Lawn tractor, Honda lawn mower, Ariens snow thrower, Honda generator and Sthil two cycle engines - for those I use Sthil two cycle synthetic oil : weed trimmer, blower, edger. I keep all the fuel tanks full after use to reduce probablity for humid air contaminating the gasoline. I have never had a problem with carburetors or gelled gasoline in over 40 years of lawn care. All gasoline in my area is 10% ethanol and has been for many years.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by shmidds » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:26 am

+1 for Seafoam. I use it in everything with a carburetor. I also put a small $5 plastic shut off valve in the fuel line and run the carb empty.

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Re: Lawnmower/gas issues

Post by 4nursebee » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:30 am

Sell the mower. It is a money pit.
Buy a new one. Use 100% gasoline, no ETOH.
Consider getting better quality machine, treat it right. Read the manual.
I find no difference in run out of fuel vs leaving fuel in treatments, I do both.
I dont add any winterizers.
The only engine failure I've had since doing the above was after repair work, I suspect it was the shop.

Argue against the ETOH issue if you want.
ETOH causes higher engine temps.
Some warranties voided by using 15% ETOH
ETOH attracts moisture and allows gumming in carbs.
4nursebee

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