Briggs warns of potential damages from E-15 fuel

Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton Corp. is advising owners of outdoor power equipment be aware of a new fuel with a higher level of ethanol that could harm small engines.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved higher levels of ethanol (E-15 or 15 percent ethanol) in gasoline for use only in 2001 and newer automobiles and light trucks.

All Briggs & Stratton small gasoline powered engines are designed to run on up to E-10, or up to 10 percent ethanol. Use of higher levels of ethanol will negatively affect engine performance and longevity, permanently damage the engine and void manufacturer’s warranty, according to Briggs & Stratton.

Consumers should also pay close attention to the gas pumps at local filling stations. Some may offer both E-10 and E-15 or have blender pumps that dispense mid-level ethanol fuels for “flex-fuel” automobiles.

With an estimated 80 million walk-behind and riding lawn mowers, valued at almost $50 billion in garages throughout the United States, the potential financial impact on consumers is astronomical, according to the company.

“Briggs & Stratton fully supports efforts towards energy independence and the use of biofuels; however our products were not designed to run on any fuel containing ethanol over 10 percent,” said Laura Timm, communications director at Briggs & Stratton. “We are deeply concerned for consumers who own our products and who may inadvertently put E-15 in their products, ultimately causing damage and voiding their warranty. Although currently it is illegal to use E-15 in anything other than a vehicle or light truck that was manufactured after 2001, we are strongly encouraging the EPA to educate consumers on the adverse impacts E-15 will have on small engines and to put methods in place for consumers to prevent misfueling.”

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