PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It is supposed to be 70 degrees on Saturday and Sunday, and if it doesn’t rain in your neighborhood, you may want to be outside working in your yard.
What if your string trimmer or your lawn mower won’t start? What can you do to fix it yourself?
Many small engine repair shops are closed right now.
Those that are open may already have dozens of people waiting in line.
Andy Amrhein of Evey True Value Hardware in Bethel Park says their small engine department is already busy.
“Option one: bring it to one of us, one of our mechanics, and we have to rip the mower apart. We have to clean the carburetor. A lot of times carburetors can’t even be reused or cleaned anymore. They have to be replaced,” Amrhein said.
The biggest culprit is what is in our gasoline. Most gasoline you get from the pump has a significant amount of ethanol in it. Corn-based ethanol is cheaper than oil, but it is really bad for small engines.
Its big target is the carburetor of your small engine.
“That ethanol gets in, and it dissolves and destroys everything in this carburetor from the rubber gaskets and seals, to the gas lines, to the gas tanks itself,” explains Amrhein.
You rarely will run into ethanol issues in your car or truck engine because those vehicles run most every day. The ethanol never sits in the tank, fuel line or carburetor long enough to create problems. But with lawn equipment, five or six months of sitting can create big problems come spring.
To prevent ethanol issues, Amrhein suggests using a gasoline additive like Star Tron. You add it to the gasoline, and it dissolves and neutralizes the effects of ethanol.
“These are products you only use a couple ounces per gallon, so every time you fill up your gas cans,” Amrhein said. “You should be adding the Star Tron or the Amsoil to those tanks and that counteracts the ethanol itself.”
You also can buy ethanol-free gasoline at area hardware stores. Some varieties are already mixed with two-cycle oil for engines that require it.
But what if it is too late? What if you didn’t know about these issues last fall, and now your engine won’t start?
That’s when you move to the next option. It’s called Mechanic In A Bottle.
“I like to refer to it as genie in a bottle because it is really amazing,” Amrhein said.
Pour a few ounces of the Mechanic In A Bottle into your equipment’s gas tank, pull the cord a couple of times and then walk away for 30 minutes.
That gives it time to go from the fuel tank through the fuel line and into the carburetor.
It then breaks down the gunk that clogged your system. A half-hour later, it likely will start.
Don’t worry if it billows white smoke or coughs and sputters a bit. That is normal.
Within a few minutes, it should be running normally. Fill the rest of the tank with treated gasoline or ethanol-free gasoline, and your problems should be fixed.
One other thing to remember. Be sure to treat your snowblower before you put it away for the winter.
Pour a few extra ounces of fuel treatment (like the Star Tron) into the tank.
Start the snowblower, and let it run until it runs out of fuel.
That way the treated fuel will be in the system and will neutralize the ethanol until you are ready to start it next winter.