Small Equipment Not Starting?

Loading a Toro Dingo

Do you ever have landscape equipment such as a chainsaw, hedge trimmer or string trimmer that won’t start after not being used for a while? I know I have. If you’re wondering what the problem is, it is most likely a fouled up carburetor. As the owner of a landscape business, I own a lot of small engines. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of carburetor issues. The problems started right after non ethanol gas hit the market. Man, does that stuff wreak havoc on small engines. If you only use your chainsaw, generator, hedge trimmer and string trimmer occasionally and you use unleaded gas, you either have had issues or will have issues shortly with something that won’t start. When you’re trying to run an efficient, profitable business there is nothing more frustrating than needing a piece of equipment on a job site and it won’t start. I’ve eliminated almost all of our problems by switching to non-ethanol fuel. At first, I started using TrueFuel. Every fall, before winter storage, I would drain all of our gas tanks and add Truefuel. I would start engines, run them for a bit before shutting them down for the winter. It definitely helped ease the issues we had every spring when the equipment came off the shelves. The problem is we were still having issues with engines that stopped working during the season. Even though we were working, things would sit for a month or two between uses. At that point, I made the commitment to switch to a non ethanol fuel year round. I started with a Sunoco 110 octane race fuel. I used this for 6 months until I found out that this fuel wasn’t ethanol free. It just had a higher octane level. This is when I switched back to TrueFuel. This wasn’t a cheap endeavor at $90 for a 5 gallon pail but I definitely noticed a reduction in down time. We also didn’t have guys wasting time having issues with equipment on job sites. After a year or two of using only Truefuel, I stumbled on a low cost substitution. Someone told me there was a gas station on hour and a half from me that sold a 91 octane non ethanol fuel. It costs a lot less than Truefuel and race fuel, usually 20 cents more per gallon than a high octane fuel with ethanol.   Using this fuel has drastically reduced all of our carburetor issues. Because it is so much cheaper than Truefuel, we use it in everything. Not only small handheld equipment but also all of our occasional use equipment and toys. Motorcycles, lawn mowers, a boat, a chipper, a Toro Dingo, a Kawasaki Mule as well as all of our other small equipment. Its been fantastic. Our boat hasn’t run this well in a decade.

If you’re having a lot of problems with your equipment, I highly recommend making the move towards a non-ethanol fuel. Your equipment will thank you. Your spouse will thank you too because you’ll be much more pleasant when you get home.

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Richard Schipul
Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.

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