How ethanol-blended gas can wreck your snowblower

Now that winter is really here, is your snowblower up for the challenge?  Local repair shops are busy repairing machines that worked last year, but for some reason don't want to fire up this year.

At the Eagan Hardware Hank in Eagan, Minn., mechanic Dave Finch finds the snowblowers have a fuel system snafu. He's sees brown chunks of dried fuel in the machines. That stuff clogs up the carburetor, choking off fuel flow so the engine won't start. The mechanic said newer machines seem to clog easier.
The gas found in those tanks even changes to a different color as the fuel begins to break down. As it sits in the tank, it also begins to smell different, sometimes like varnish.

"I see a lot of costly repairs," said Finch. He is of the opinion that gas blended with ethanol is more likely to go bad quicker. Even some makers of snow blowers say consumers should consider avoiding the stuff.

Gas stations, like Leroy's Tire and Auto in Bloomington, now offer ethanol free gas for use in snowblowers and other small engines.   "It’s not a commonly known thing, at least it hasn't been to a lot of people, until they have a problem," said Troy Voehl, from Leroy's.

Fuel expert Hoon Ge of MEG Fuel Consulting believes the real problem isn't the ethanol, it's the oxygen. Keep the oxygen out by keeping a snow blower's tank full, he advises.

When winter's over, add a fuel stabilizer for extra protection.  It's during the heat of summer when air is more likely to cause gas to evaporate and gum up the fuel system.