The small engines found in lawnmowers and four-wheelers perform best with fuel that is less than a month old. So if you’ve stored your lawnmower away for the season or haven’t used your ATV in a while, it’s essential to ensure bad gas doesn’t take a toll on the performance of your equipment.

Replace Old Gasoline in Your Small Engine

Untreated gas typically has a shelf life of three months. Running your small engine with gasoline that has degraded may deteriorate rubber seals, fuel lines, and intricate metal parts. In addition, when hydrocarbons oxidize, they can create a gum that will clog gas lines and filters and leave deposits in the fuel system and carburetor. If your small engine exhibits hard to starting or runs rough, one of the quickest and easiest fixes is to replace the stale fuel. Exchanging it with fresh gas and spraying a light dose of starter fluid directly into the carburetor can improve performance immediately.

Upgrade or Downsize Your Gasoline Container

Over time, a poorly sealed fuel container will emit gas vapors, losing the volatile properties necessary to starting a cold engine. In addition, moisture may be absorbed over time, condensing on container walls, eventually descending to the bottom of the container. As the lower level of fuel is reached, you’re literally pouring a blend of old gas and water into your small engine. Further, storing too little gas in a container allows for surplus air that results in more rapid gas spoilage. Use a container properly sized for your needs and try to purchase only enough gas fuel to last for 30 days.

Use Fuel Stabilizer

When you’re done with your equipment for the season, be proactive—add a fuel stabilizer to both your storage container and gas tank to increase gasoline stability. Of course, using a fuel stabilizer regularly reduces the effects of water accumulation, slows the loss of volatile vapors, and keeps equipment running well all year round. A stabilizer actually works best when it’s added to fresh gas right at the pump, so make it a habit. Look for a product that includes antioxidant protection, corrosion inhibitors, detergent, and metal deactivators.

The Experts at Walbro Can Help

Contamination of your small engine’s fuel system by expired gasoline will cause frustrating performance problems, even long-term damage to your equipment. If you have questions about your small engine’s performance, Walbro can help. We’re a global market leader in engine management and fuel systems for the outdoor power equipment, recreational, marine, and personal transportation markets. Walbro manufactures carburetors, electronic fuel injection systems, ignition systems, fuel tanks, fuel pumps, valves, and fuel storage and distribution systems.

Shop Walbro’s full line of small engine products at


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