Outdoor Power Equipment Maintenance & Fuel Tips
Unruly weeds. Dangerous tree limbs. Hazardous leaf piles. Outdoor jobs can amass overnight or in the blink of an eye. That’s why we keep an arsenal of outdoor power equipment. Keeping that equipment in battle-ready condition is a task that’s often overlooked or neglected. That’s why we’ve created the Tru Know-How resource section, so your equipment is always ready to work.
The Effects of Ethanol on Small Engines
Gas station gas, which usually contains ethanol, is designed for cars and trucks, not small engines. The larger automobile engines can usually handle the gum, varnish and ethanol. The small engines in your line trimmer and leaf blower can’t. Inferior gas and oil leave behind carbon deposits that gunk up small engines and fuel lines. Ethanol attracts water, and will even wear away the rubber and plastic parts inside the engine. It’s the kind of problem you don’t see until it’s too late.
TruFuel is different. Its high-octane formula is free of ethanol and other gummy impurities. Designed for fewer breakdowns, TruFuel is gentle on small engines by being tough on gunk.
Is Your Outdoor Power Equipment at Risk for Ethanol Damage?
Understanding whether or not your outdoor power equipment is at risk for ethanol damage is simple:
Do You Use Gas Station Gas?
If you answered yes, then chances are your chainsaw, string trimmer and leaf blowers are at risk for ethanol damage. That’s because the majority of gas station gas contains nearly 10 percent ethanol—the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Ethanol is fine for larger automotive engines, but can wreak havoc on the smaller engines.
Does Your Equipment Sit for Weeks Between Uses?
If so, the ethanol-laden gas could start eating away at the rubber and plastic components inside your engine. Time also allows the ethanol to attract water and separate from the oil and gas mixture. This process is known as phase separation, and it can damage or ruin your equipment.
Why Use Ethanol-Free Fuel?
To protect your equipment from phase separation, corrosion and gummed-up fuel lines, choose an ethanol-free fuel. Choose TruFuel. Engineered specifically for small engines, TruFuel is ethanol-free and stays fresh for years. Visit the TruFuel ratios page to see which premix fuel is right for your engine.
What Type of Fuel is Right for Your Small Engine?
Choosing the right fuel for small engines doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s quite simple. Do you want your equipment to start consistently and run smoothly? Then you want a high octane fuel that stays fresher longer. You want TruFuel.
Engineered with proprietary additive technology, TruFuel is the cleanest burning premix fuel for all 2-cycle engines. Unlike conventional small engine gas, TruFuel is ethanol-free, so you won’t have to worry about ethanol corrosion between uses–or even between seasons. That’s because TruFuel stays fresh for years after opening. Our small engine fuel is precisely mixed to meet the specifications of your equipment. So, save yourself the time and the mess. TruFuel is a premium mix that’s always ready for work. Visit the TruFuel ratios page to see which small engine fuel is right for your equipment.
How Preventative Maintenance Keeps Small Engines Running
Don’t wait until it breaks. Even the most simple maintenance work can help keep your equipment out of the shop. The easiest tip also happens to be the most important: Choose an ethanol-free fuel that is specifically designed to protect small engines.
All small engines have their own unique characteristics, so it’s important to become familiar with the owner’s manual before you get out the tools. Replace parts as recommended, and consider keeping extra parts on hand in case of a breakdown.
Before You Start
Always check your equipment before you fire it up, especially if it hasn’t been used in a while. Make sure all the engine components appear to be in working condition. Inspect the fuel lines and wires for corrosion. Finally, look for any loose bolts and tighten as necessary.
Storing for Off Season
If you’re not going to be using the equipment for a while, it’s recommended to add fuel stabilizer or empty the gas tank completely. This prevents gunk buildup and damage caused by stale, ethanol-laden fuel. TruFuel, however, is ethanol-free and stays fresh years for longer than 2 years after opening and for more than 5 years unopened. When you use TruFuel, there’s no need to empty your fuel tank between extended periods of use.
Air Filters and Flow
Small engines run on a combination of small engine fuel and clean air. Without the right air flow, your engine won’t run as efficiently as it should. Check for a dirty air filter and replace as needed–usually once a season or after every 25 hours of use.
Keep it Clean
Any buildup of grease and grime can cause unnecessary heating and strain on your engine. Use a degreaser and a clean cloth to wipe away any dirt and grease spots. Keep your cooling fins clean with a small bristle brush.
Understanding 2-Cycle Fuel
What is Premixed 2-Cycle Fuel
Two-cycle engines, or 2-stroke engines, found in most outdoor power equipment require a precise mix of gasoline and oil. Unlike 4-cycle engines, 2-stroke engines do not have a separate lubrication system. Instead, oil is mixed with the gasoline to a very specific ratio, ranging anywhere from 16:1 to as low as 100:1—meaning 100 parts gas to 1 part oil. The measuring process can be complicated and messy. In addition, the quality of premix fuel is only as good as the oil and gasoline from which it’s made.
Stop Mixing. Start Working.
TruFuel specializes in both 50:1 and 40:1 premixed 2-stroke fuel. That means no measuring and no mess. Made with ethanol-free gas and proprietary additive technology, TruFuel is scientifically engineered and precisely measured for optimal performance. Not only is it convenient, it also provides unmatched protection for your 2-cycle equipment.
Chainsaws are powerful tools–and very sharp! Be sure to wear work gloves while handling the chain, and check the owner’s manual before performing any work yourself. Here are some basic maintenance tips to keep your chainsaw revving strong, all season long.
Premixed Chainsaw Fuel
Choosing a high quality chainsaw fuel mix is the most important preventive measure you can take. Ethanol and small engines don’t mix. Most gas station gas contains ethanol, which ultimately gunks up engines and causes serious corrosion within. TruFuel is different. TruFuel is ethanol-free fuel that stays fresh for years, which means you don’t have to worry about draining old chainsaw fuel between uses. In addition, TruFuel is already premixed for saws requiring a 50:1 or 40:1 fuel mixture. Find a dealer near you..
Keep it Lubricated
A well lubricated bar is absolutely essential. If you are working with a 2-cycle chainsaw, the “oil” reservoir on your saw is for bar chain oil–not motor oil. This is important. Bar chain oil is extra tacky to prevent the chain from jumping. Refill your bar chain oil every time you refuel your chainsaw. Also, be sure to inspect and clear the oil-inlet holes at the base of the bar.
Clean Your Bar
The groove that guides the chain around the bar must remain clear of dust and debris. Remove the drive-case, chain and bar. Clean the groove with a small screwdriver and use a file to work out any nicks and notches.
Check Your Chain
If you’re seeing saw dust rather than wood chips, it’s probably time to sharpen your chain. Other symptoms of a dull chain include a chattering sound and curved cutting line. Before each startup, check the chain and adjust the tension to the saw’s specifications.
Filters & Spark Plugs
Chainsaws are messy. Sawdust finds its way into every crack and crevasse, causing buildup around the spark plug, oil filter and air filter. Remove the plug with a socket wrench and clean with a wire brush (reset the gap to the recommended limit). Using a bent piece of wire, pull the pickup line and fuel filter out of the gas tank. Simply brush it clean with solvent. The air filter is located inside a box at the mouth of the carburetor. Remove the box and wash the filter in solvent or soapy water. Replace after drying.
String Trimmer Maintenance
Below are some basic maintenance tips to keep your trimmer running at optimal performance. But before you start, always check the owner’s manual for specifications.
Replacing the Line
Old and brittle line should be replaced at least once a season. Hold the hub at the end of the trimmer and unscrew the bump knob. Remove the old spool. Next, remove the spring inside the old spool and place it in the new spool. Place the new spool inside the hub, stringing both lines through the eyelets. Finish by screwing the bump knob back on.
Fuel for String Trimmers
For 2-stroke engines, choosing a premium string trimmer fuel is the easiest way to prevent serious engine damage. A mix made from gas station gas likely contains ethanol, which gunks up engines and causes serious corrosion within. TruFuel is different. Our ethanol-free fuel is precisely measured and ready to use in line trimmers that require a 50:1 or 40:1 fuel mixture.
Adjusting the Idle
If your engine sounds choppy or stalls while running, chances are you should adjust the idle. Find the adjustment screw between the air filter and housing. With your string trimmer in idle, turn the screw to the left or right until the engine is running smoothly.
Leaf Blower Maintenance
Getting your leaf blower to start quickly and run smoothly isn’t always easy. Its small engine can be finicky, especially if weeks or months have passed between uses. All engines are different, so it’s important to consult the owner’s manual before performing any maintenance yourself. Here are some basic leaf blower fuel and maintenance tips to keep you from reaching for the rake.
Loose Hoses, Corroded Tubing
Inspect your leaf blower. The hoses on most leaf blowers are made of plastic, and can crack or become disconnected over time. Also check the tubes for maximum air flow. Do you see any cracks? Repair, reconnect or replace as needed.
Fresh Fuel for Leaf Blowers
Conventional leaf blower fuel only stays fresh for about 30 days. And if you’re using gas station gas, the ethanol in contains can even start eating away the rubber and plastic components inside your small engine. That’s why it’s extra important to either drain fuel between uses or choose a fuel that is ethanol-free. Choose TruFuel. Specially formulated for small engines, TruFuel is ethanol-free fuel that stays fresh for years, which means you don’t have to worry about stale fuel or ethanol-related engine damage.
Maximizing Air Flow
Leaf blower performance is all about air flow–and that includes air going into the engine. Routinely check your leaf blower’s air filter and wash as needed with a mild dish detergent and warm water. Allow the filter to dry completely before reinstalling.
If you’re still pulling the starter rope without any results, consider checking the spark plug for signs of distress or aging. It may be time for a new plug altogether. However, a dirty spark plug can be cleaned gently with a wire brush. Be sure to check the owner’s manual before setting the gap and reinstalling.
Most snowblower maintenance requires a few basic tools and a little elbow grease. If performed regularly, you should be able to avoid the repair shop—and the snow shovel! However, not all snowblowers are created equal, so be sure to consult the owner’s manual.
Before you start working, turn off the engine and disconnect the spark plug wire. As you know, snowblowers are heavy. Carefully tip the snowblower on its side for easy access.
Snowblowers are built for cold temperatures. Despite how rugged the machine may seem, small engines are actually quite sensitive. Ethanol found in most gas station gas can cause serious problems—gunked-up engines, damaged tanks and phase separation. For 2-cycle engines, it’s best to use a snowblower fuel that’s ethanol-free and premixed to your machine’s fuel ratio. TruFuel 4-Cycle is recommended for all 4-stroke equipment.
Take inventory of the snowblower’s main components. Are the skids overly worn? Are the belts corroded? If so, you may need to take a trip to the repair shop. As for any loose nuts and bolts, go ahead and tighten those yourself.
Remove the spark plug with a socket wrench. Inspect the plug and clean with a wire brush. Set the gap according to the owner’s manual and reinstall.
Having trouble starting your blower? Stale fuel is the usual suspect. Most varieties of snowblower fuel should be drained at the end of the season. In some cases, a small engine fuel additive could be considered. But perhaps the easiest route is to choose a premium snowblower fuel from the beginning. TruFuel is ethanol-free and stays fresh for more than 2 years after opening and for more than 5 years unopened, which means you won’t have to worry about fuel going stale.
Generator Maintenance Tips and Fuel For Generators
Portable generators can keep you and your family connected and comfortable in an extended outage, but for safety purposes it is important to know the correct way to operate them.
If you own a portable power generator for your home or business, please refer to the owner’s manual for specific safety information, precautions and maintenance procedures and schedules. If you can’t locate it, the manual for your specific brand and model should be easily found online.
This page is here to provide an overview of the sort of maintenance needs gas-powered generators have, along with some tips on how to keep them powered and running their best when you need them the most.
There are countless generators on the market, but here are a few common maintenance items:
- After every use: Take a damp cloth and wipe down the whole unit, including all engine air inlet and outlet boards, engine cooling fins, alternator cooling air inlet and exhaust ports, along with all other surfaces. Clean spark arrester screen with wire brush.
- After every 20 hours or so of use: Change the oil.
- After every 50 hours or so of use: Clean air filter.
- After 100 hours or so of use: Inspect the spark plug for cracks, a chipped insulator, extensive wear or an incorrect gap. If there are any problems, replace.
- After 300 hours or so of use: Spark plug must be switched out if not replaced earlier.
Other Good Maintenance Practices:
- Check oil between changes.
- Store the generator in an area that’s free of excessive dust, dirt, moisture and corrosive fumes.
- Operate with TruFuel 4-Cycle. And keep TruFuel on hand in case of emergency.
- Get unit out of storage every 3 months and run it for ten minutes, preferably with ethanol-free generator fuel.
TruFuel 4-Cycle is Engineered Fuel for Generators
TruFuel does not have any ethanol. 4-cycle engines hate ethanol, which comprises 10% of most of the gas homeowners purchase from gas stations. In fact, using E15 gas (15% ethanol blend) voids many portable generator warranties, because the fuel gums up fuel lines, jets and carburetors.)
Advanced stabilizing generator fuel additives keep TruFuel fresh in your tank for 2 years and for more than 5 years unopened. This potentially eliminates the need to source fresh gas during an emergency situation. And the need to frequently replenish your stand-by fuel supply and dispose of old gas.
Lawn Mower Maintenance
Lawn mower maintenance is what you do physically to your mower to keep its engine and other parts in top shape. In this section, TruFuel offers maintenance information and checklists to help homeowners get the most out of their machines.
- How to Tune Up Your Lawn Mower through the Season
- Lawn Mower First Start of the Season
- Lawn Mower Winter Care
From tune-ups and putting in storage, to taking out of storage and mid-season care, to the problems with ordinary gas station gas (ethanol going stale after 30 days), this section touches on the care and feeding of your lawn mower at its most important junctures through the annual cycle.
How to Tune Up Your Lawn Mower
According to manufacturer Briggs & Stratton, keeping your lawn mower well-tuned:
- Reduces lawn mower fuel consumption by up to 30%
- Reduces mower emissions by as much as 50%
- Extends the life of your mower
- Check/replace spark plug to keep timing of engine at optimum
- Check/add/change oil to protect engine from wear and heat
- Check/clean/replace air filter to bring cleaner air into the carburetor
- Check/clean under the deck with a garden hose and putty knife to improve aerodynamics, the engine will work less hard
- Check/sharpen blades so that the engine will have to work less and your grass will look better
- Lubricate gears in rear wheels, other moving parts for less resistance, self-propelled units will work less hard
- Use fresh, ethanol-free fuel. That is, TruFuel for lawn mowers
Lawn Mower Fuel is Ethanol-Free
The gas that most homeowners have in their gas cans is blended with ethanol, a form of alcohol that’s destructive for non-automotive engines.
When lawn mower engines, which have hot-running, air-cooled, 4-stroke machines are asked to process conventional gasoline made for cars and trucks, they experience gumming and varnishing in the fuel lines, jets and carburetors.
TruFuel 4-Cycle is not only ethanol-free, it’s engineered lawn mower fuel with lawn mower fuel additive that stays fresh in your tank for two years and for more than 5 years unopened. So with TruFuel in the tank, you don’t have to worry about sending stale, separated gas into your lawn mower engine, or damaging your carb or interior plastic and rubber parts with ethanol.
Try it out after an engine tune-up. Your lawn mower will run noticeably better. It will last longer and need fewer major repairs.
You want your mower to start easily. You want to use less gas and reduce your emissions. With a tuned engine and TruFuel 4-Cycle in the tank, you’ll have all that.
How to Maintain Your Lawn Mower through the Season
When you mow, be on the lookout for signs of lawn mower maintenance needs:
If your blades have made contact with protruding tree roots and tree stumps or had some encounters with rocks and stones, then inspect the work of the blades: Is the grass being cut cleanly, like scissors, or ragged, as if they were torn? If your mower is tearing your grass, sharpen or replace the blades. Tearing grass hurts the look of your lawn and makes the grass more susceptible to disease.
If the engine doesn’t act right, it could be any number of things including a dirty carburetor from ethanol-laden gas station gas. Lawn mower engines were never meant to process ethanol. When your carburetor is cleaned or replaced, consider using ethanol-free fuel with advanced stabilizers engineered for lawn mower engines: TruFuel 4-Cycle.
Check/replace air filter. If you have dry areas of your lawn with exposed ground, lawnmowers tend to kick up dust. This can make quick work of a freshly cleaned air filter, so you might need to replace or clean it out mid-season.
Check/clean under deck with putty knife. Did you try to cut the grass too low? Did you mow grass that was damp? You can get clumping of fine clippings under your mulch mower anytime, but over-attacking tall grass or mowing dewy grass are two ways to make a mess under your deck. Clumping reduces performance of the cutting and creates resistance for your engine, making it work harder.
Does your mower feel like it’s getting harder to push? It’s probably corrosion from moisture in the grass and humid summer air. Take the wheels off and grease.
Lawn Mower Fuel
For some preventative maintenance, use engineered fuel for lawn mowers in the gas tank. TruFuel 4-Cycle lawn mower fuel is ethanol-free, high-octane, and advanced fuel additives that keeps it fresh in your tank for two years and for more than 5 years unopened, instead of just 30 days like conventional gas that was made for large automotive engines.
With TruFuel, you won’t have to worry about ruining your carburetor with bad gas, and you’ll notice improved starting, better engine performance, and, in the long-term, fewer trips to the lawn and garden repair shop.
Lawn Mower First Start of the Season
It’s time to fire up your lawn mower for the first time this spring. Make sure you give your mower this standard spring tune-up before you start cutting grass.
But First, a Spring Tune-up:
- Check/replace spark plug
- Change oil
- Check/replace air filter (best done before storage)
- Check/clean under deck with putty knife (best done before storage)
- Check/sharpen blades (best done before storage)
- Lubricate gears in rear wheels, other moving parts
Lawn Mower Fuel
Did you drain the fuel or use a fuel stabilizer for the gas in the tank before you put the unit in storage? Or did you do your last mow of the season with TruFuel 4-Cycle in the tank? If so, you’re in good shape. It might just take a few extra tugs on the pull cord to get your mower started, because there might not be any fuel in the carburetor.
For your first attempts at starting, pull the cord a few times with the choke closed. Then open the choke all the way and try some more. Has the engine started? If it fired up once or twice but did not continue to run, then half-close the choke and continue to pull the cord.
If you left old gas station gas in the tank and didn’t treat it before putting it away last winter, then you’ll need to drain the fuel tank. A siphon hose works well. Then fill with fresh fuel.
Choose TruFuel for lawn mowers. TruFuel is engineered for your 4-cycle lawn mower engine. Why use TruFuel ethanol-free gas? The E10 (10% alcohol) that you get from gas station gas clogs jets, fuel lines and the carburetors of small, hotter-running air-cooled engines like those in lawn mowers, and it also damages interior plastic and rubber parts. Gas station gas also goes bad in as little as 30 days.
Filling a gas can at the gas station and filling your mower with it works, but that gas is designed for large automotive engines. TruFuel 4-Cycle is engineered fuel for lawn mowers and other outdoor power equipment with 4-cycle engines, like snowblowers, power washers and portable power generators.
TruFuel has fuel additives engineered for limited-use equipment because the advanced stabilizers keep the fuel fresh for two years after it goes into the can—and TruFuel stays good for at least five years unopened. And of course, it’s always free of engine-damaging ethanol, which is blended into 75% of the gasoline sold in the U.S.
Try it out. Your lawn mower will run noticeably better. It will also last longer, need fewer repairs and less maintenance.
TruFuel wishes you a successful mowing season.
Lawn Mower Winter Care
Your grass is going dormant and your final mow of the year is done. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Time to “put up” your lawn mower until next year.
Lawn Mower Fuel
Let’s start with the most important task: lawn mower fuel. Leaving normal fuel in the tank untreated runs the risk of sending old varnished gas through your fuel lines and carburetor next spring, which can stop you in your tracks before you even get started.
To winterize your 4-cycle lawn mower gas by:
Simply filling your gas tank with TruFuel 4-Cycle for your last mow of the season. TruFuel ‘s advanced stabilizers and ethanol-free formula stay fresh for two years after being opened, and next spring it will be in perfect condition to start up your mower.
TruFuel is the perfect fuel for lawnmowers.
Run the remaining conventional gas out of your mower until the engine stops. Or drain the gas by detaching the fuel line. Then run the engine until it stops. This ensures the carburetor has been emptied of the gas.
Clean under the Deck
You’ve probably got a summer’s worth of debris under there. Tip over the mower (never to the side that would flood your engine with gas or oil) and remove the grass residue with a putty knife, hose or other. Cleaning under the deck will protect it from corrosion and prevent mold or organic decomposition issues. And the deck will clean a lot easier today than it will next spring.
It just takes a minute. Use compressed air to dislodge a summer’s worth of debris from the engine area,
especially near the cylinder head air vents.
Just use a squirt can and apply oil topically.
Check for nicks, gauge the sharpness, and test the balance of the blade. Sharpen or even-out the blade as needed.
Inspect for Rust Spots
Take a wire brush to any spots you find. Rust will only spread in storage.
Clean/Replace Air Filter
Do not store without filter in place, even a dirty one.
Two Things That Should Wait Until Spring:
- Replacing the spark plug and changing the oil. Sitting in storage could introduce dust to the new oil and corrosion behind your new spark plug.
- This seasonal maintenance will help your mower last, reduce the need for repairs, and give you peace of mind while your mower is on blocks for the winter.