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Tips On Proper Outdoor Power Equipment Storage

November 5, 2010 8 comments

It is about that time of year, when you get to knock a few things off of that “honey-do” list for a couple of months. 

With your lawn going dormant during the winter months the use of  lawn mowers, trimmers, blowers and other outdoor power equipment are unlikely.  Taking the proper measures when you store your equipment gives you a much better chance of eliminating equipment issues the next time you pull them out for use.

With help from our friends over at STIHL, here are a few easy to do storage tips that will help ensure your equipment will be ready to roll.  

  1. To get the equipment ready for storage, clean it first. The air filter and the cylinder fins can be cleaned by gently brushing with an old toothbrush. Remove and examine the spark plug for excessive carbon build up. You may want to replace it once a year. Put two drops of two cycle oil into the cylinder and gently and slowly pull the starter cord to spread the oil on the inside of the cylinder. Replace the spark plug and carefully reconnect it to the ignition lead.
  2. Remove the cutting tool on your trimmer, clean out all the debris (see your Operating Manual).
  3. Examine the spark arresting screen. It is a small screen at the muffler exhaust that is usually fastened with a screw or clip. The screen must be cleaned with a wire brush or replaced with a new one.
  4. The fuel tank should be emptied of fuel mix. Start the engine and run it at idle until the engine stops. It is important that the engine is run at idle speed only, so there will be no lack of lubrication when the fuel mix dries up. Do not operate the throttle.
  5. For long term storage, a dry and, if possible, dust- and frost-free place would be ideal. You can save space if you hang the equipment from its built-in hanger.
  6. Fuel mix deteriorates and should not be kept over 30 days. If you need to dispose of fuel mix, please do so in a proper and responsible manner. (50:1 fuel mix can be used up in any gasoline engine without a catalytic converter, i.e. lawnmower, ATV or motorcycle) Remember that STIHL products use the same 50:1 fuel mix so the fuel you used for your trimmer will work in your blower or chain saw, while your trimmer is in storage.

Following these steps can help prevent this: Biggest Factors In Engine Problems Are Fuel Related Issues.

Always Remember: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

For more information and tips check out our other posts on equipment service.

Even Higher Levels of Ethanol Fuel Coming, Could Damage Your Equipment

October 13, 2010 4 comments

Your equipment might be in harm’s way with the decision of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve higher levels of ethanol in gasoline for use in 2007 and newer automobiles.  The approval is going to bring a 15% Ethanol fuel (E15) to the pumps, a 5% increase to the current Ethanol Fuel (E10) already being sold.

The use of E15 or higher ethanol blended fuels in outdoor power equipment or small engines could cause performance issues, damage the engine, and void the manufacturer’s warranty.  As we know from our posts, Equipment Repair and Warranty Work & Fuel Is Biggest Factor In Engine Problems, fuel related issues are not covered by warranty.  All equipment from lawn mowers to chainsaws and utility vehicles to generators are in the risk of damage scope.

There are problems that can occur with the use of E10 Ethanol fuel already, so the use of E15 will only enhance these issues.  We broke down the four main problems that the E10 Ethanol fuel could cause and the ways to combat it:

Ethanol 101: 4 Main Problems With Ethanol Fuel (E10)
Problem 1: Debris In Fuel
Problem 2: Excessive Water In The Fuel And Phase Separation
Problem 3: ETHANOL Fuels Break Down Quickly
Problem 4: ETHANOL Causes Lost Power, Performance And Decreased Fuel Economy

Click Here for full post on: Ethanol 101: 4 Main Problems With Ethanol Fuel (E10)

With the probability of many people having equipment issues with the use of E15 extremely high, The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) issued a consumer alert on new Ethanol fuel. [GreenIndustryPros.com]

OPEI Issues Consumer Alert on New Ethanol Fuel The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has advised outdoor power equipment users to be aware of new fuel coming on the market with higher levels of ethanol that could harm equipment sitting in their garages, tool sheds and maintenance buildings. Over two hundred million pieces of outdoor power equipment could be at risk of product failure or voided warranty, including chainsaws, lawnmowers, utility vehicles, generators, snow throwers, trimmers, edgers, pruners, chippers, shredders and blowers.

This advisory comes after the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve higher levels of ethanol (E15 or 15% ethanol) in gasoline for use in only 2007 and newer automobiles.

Until recently, the maximum allowable limit of ethanol in gasoline was E10 or 10%. That means, all engine products in use today, with the exception of “flex-fuel” automobiles, were designed, built and warranted to run on gasoline containing no more than 10% ethanol. Use of E15 or higher ethanol blended fuels in any engine product, with the exception of a “flex-fuel” automobile, could cause performance issues, damage engines, and void the manufacturer’s warranty.

OPEI advises consumers of the following measures to protect products and prevent voided warranties:

1. Read and follow the owner’s manual. It will clearly explain what fuels can be used to ensure a properly functioning product.

2. Do not put any fuel containing more than 10% (E10) in small engine products (EPA’s decision only applies to 2007 and newer highway vehicles), unless otherwise stated.

3. Check the pump to be sure that it is dispensing E10. Some gas pumps at local gas stations may offer both E10 and E15, or have blender pumps that dispense mid-level ethanol fuels for “flex-fuel” automobiles. Higher ethanol fuel (E15) may be less expensive than regular (E10) fuel, but putting E15 into an E10 approved product could cause product failure and void its warranty.

4. Many consumers fill their vehicle gas tank and the gasoline can at the same time. Be sure that the gas can is filled only with E10 fuel.

“The Department of Energy’s (DOE) own testing has shown that putting anything other than E10 in non-road, small engines can cause performance irregularities and equipment failure,” said Kris Kiser, executive vice president at the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. “Consumers need to understand this or they could encounter performance irregularities, increased heat and exhaust temperatures, failure or unintentional clutch engagement when using outdoor lawn and garden equipment.”

OPEI supports Congressional efforts towards energy independence and the use of biofuels, including ethanol, and manufacturers can design and build future equipment to run on specific blends. However, current equipment was not designed to run on any fuel exceeding 10% ethanol.

Bottom line, stay away from the use of the 15% blended Ethanol Fuel (E15) in your small engine and outdoor power equipment, it can only bring bad news.  So, make sure to pay attention to what fuel you are putting in your equipment and fuel cans.

[Ethanol 101: 4 main problems E10 can cause]
[Don’t Shoot The Messanger: Equipment Repair & Warranty Work]
[Biggest Factor In Engine Problems Are Fuel Related Issues]
[Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)]
[GreenIndustryPros.Com]

Ethanol 101: 4 Main Problems With Ethanol Fuel (E10)

August 31, 2010 3 comments

 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ETHANOL FUEL (E10)

The sale of ethanol blended fuel, commonly referred to as E-10 gas, is on the rise in the US as more states are mandating its use. Also promoting the growth of E-10 is the need to phase out the current additive MTBE which has been found to contaminate ground water supplies. E-10 gas has been in use for many years and, with smart fuel management, most of its negative issues can be resolved.  Read more…

The 4 Main Problems Caused By Ethanol fuel

Problem 1: Debris In Fuel

Gums rapidly form in the fuel tank and fuel delivery systems as ethanol fuels age. However, ethanol is also a powerful solvent that will strip away and disperse this build up back into the fuel as large, performance-robbing particles. This leads to clogged filters, injectors and carburetors.

Problem 2: Excessive Water In The Fuel And Phase Separation

Ethanol attracts moisture from the atmosphere, forming an ethanol/water solution mixed in the gasoline. E-10 fuel will naturally hold .5% water in suspension, but when water levels exceed this threshold, or when the fuel cools significantly, the water/ethanol mix drops out of suspension. This is phase separation. Excessive water in the fuel tank causes engines to run rough, stall, and can lead to internal damage to engine components. Ethanol provides a significant amount of the fuel’s octane, so when the ethanol/water solution separates and drops to the bottom of the tank, the remaining fuel is left without enough octane to properly operate the engine. Additionally, the ethanol/water solution can become partially combustible, which can lead to engine damage.

Problem 3: ETHANOL Fuels Break Down Quickly

Over a short period of time ethanol fuel begins to break down. As ethanol and other components evaporate, the fuel loses octane and becomes “stale.” This causes hard starts, pinging and engine knock, which robs your engine of power and can cause damage.

Problem 4: ETHANOL Causes Lost Power, Performance And Decreased Fuel Economy

Ethanol fuel does not produce as much energy as traditional fuel. This results in inefficient combustion, decreased performance, reduced throttle response and poor fuel economy.

——————————————————————————-

There is some good news from this post, there are products that combat the issues Ethanol is causing in fuel.  There are many “fuel stabilizers” and “fuel treatment” products on the market, but one product that we use at Aztec Rental is Star Tron.

Star Tron is a fuel additive that cures and prevents ethanol issues in both gasoline and diesel engines. 

What Is Star Tron and How Does It Work?

Star Tron® is a revolutionary multifunctional fuel treatment based on naturally-occurring enzymes.  Star Tron® uses highly specialized enzymes to modify how gasoline and diesel fuel burns, resulting in more complete and uniform combustion with reduced engine emissions. This same enzyme package breaks down fuel sludge and allows water to be dispersed throughout the fuel as sub-micron sized droplets that can be eliminated as the engine operates while also cleaning the entire fuel delivery system. Contaminants are either safely burned off or filtered out, and fuel chemistry is stabilized for long-term storage. Star Tron® is not affected by and does not affect any fuel treatment that may already be in use. There is no possibility of any negative chemical interaction. Because Star Tron® is pure fuel, it cannot be over-dosed. It is formulated for use in all 2 and 4-cycle gasoline engines and in all diesel engines. [Read More]

 For more on Star Tron and how it attacks the 4 main problems with Ethanol Fuel [click here].

You can pick up a bottle of Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment here at Aztec Rental.  We use it in our equipment, recommend it to our customers who have equipment in for repair with fuel issues, and to customers calling us for advice. 

RELATED ARTICLES:
Biggest Factor In Engine Problems Are Fuel Related Issues
Don’t Shoot The Messenger; Equipment Repair and Warranty Work

Lawn Mower Maintainance Schedule

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

When should i change the oil in my lawn mower? 
How often should i replace the fuel filter? 
Should i change the spark plug every 200 hrs?

All great questions!  Here is a little guide to help you keep your lawn mowers up and running. 

Some of this may vary per manufacture, but you can use this as a good guide line to keep your equipment serviced and help extend the life of your equipment.

  Maintainance Schedule          
   
Before Each Use
Every 25 hours
Every 50 hours
Every 100 hours
Spring and Fall
  Saftey Checks  
             
Check safety Interlock System
X
     
X
Check mower blade stopping time
X
   
X
X
Check rider brakes
X
   
X
X
             
             
Lawnmower Care            
             
Check mower for loose hardware
X
     
X
Check/ adjust PTO Clutch                                          ****  
X
 
X
X
Lubricate mower                                                   ***/****      
X
X
Check/ clean/ replace battery and cables      
X
X
Check tire pressure
X
X
   
X
Clean deck and check/ replace mower blades               ***      
X
X
Check hydraulic oil
X
     
X
Change hydraulic oil and filter                                      ***      
X
 
Check gearbox oil level                                              ****
X
     
X
Check tire wear                                           
X
     
X
Check belting
X
     
X
             
             
  Engine Care    *            
             
Check engine oil level
X
     
X
Check/ clean engine cooling fans                                 ***  
X
   
X
Check/ change engine air filter                                     ***  
X
   
X
Change engine oil and filter                                        */***
See your engine manufacturers owners manual (usually every 200-300 Hrs)
Inspect/ replace spark plugs                                           *
See your engine manufacturers owners manual (usually every 200-300 Hrs)
Check/ replace fuel filter and fuel lines                        */***
See your engine manufacturers owners manual (usually every 200-300 Hrs)
Check / clean spark arrester                                       */**
See your engine manufacturers owners manual (usually every 200-300 Hrs)
Check engine coolant level
X
     
X
Change engine coolant                                                  *
See your engine manufacturers owners manual (usually every 300 Hrs)
Check/ clean cooling fins and intake    
X
   
Check/ clean radiator screens
X
     
X
Check raditator hoses                                                  **        
X
             
  *    :  See your engine manufacturers owners manual
  **   :  If equipped.  Replaced if damaged
  ***  :  May require more frequent service depending on operating conditions
  **** :  Service after the 1st 25 hours of operation, then every 100 hours  of operation
             

Follow these guidelines and you will be happy with your equipments performance. 

If you are having issues that are beyond you scope, bring your equipment to Aztec Rental.  With our experience and veteran mechanics we will have your equipment up and running in no time.

Related Articles:
Don’t Shoot The Messenger; Equipment Repair and Warranty Work
Biggest Factor In Engine Problems Are Fuel Related Issues

Aztec Rental On Tom Tynan Home Show

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Aztec Rental got the opportunity to team up with Moger Media, The Tom Tynan Home Show and The Early Edition with Charlie Moger and Pamela O’Brien for a helpful video on basic spring service for your lawn mower.

Video was shot at our Sugar Land location with our tech Clay.

Video: How To Do A Spring Tune-Up On Your Lawn Mower

Also, Brian Aztec Rental’s own, did a radio interview with Charlie and Pamela. [Listen To Interview]

These are great shows and worth the listen.

SportsRadio 610 KILT-AM, Houston
Saturday and Sunday 8am-11am

Thank you Charlie, Pamela and Moger Media we had fun!

Related Articles:
Biggest Factor In Engine Problems Are Fuel Related Issues
Don’t Shoot The Messenger; Equipment Repair and Warranty Work

[HomeShowOnline.Net]
[Tom Tynan Homes]

Don’t Shoot The Messenger; Equipment Repair and Warranty Work

April 7, 2010 5 comments

Contrary to what you think, which probably comes from what you have been told or maybe through some of your own experiences but, MOST equipment dealers, repair shops, and mechanics are not out to get you or purposely screw you over.  Don’t get us wrong, there is always a bad apple  in every bunch, but any respectable company that wants to stay in business knows this is no way to treat anybody, especially a paying customer.  So, for the purpose of this article we will say Aztec Rental or most dealers, because we can’t speak for every company and they might not feel the same way we do.   Aztec Rental has been in business for over 44 years and strives on our customer service.  A bad taste in the mouth of one of our customers is one too many.  The idea of losing a customer, any potential customers and developing a bad reputation at the same time is not worth the risk for any business to make a few extra dollars on a repair.

We want to help bridge that gap of customer expectations and exactly what a repair shop can and should do in reference to equipment warranty work and repairs.

Warranty Work

The words “it’s under warranty” is one of the most slippery slopes between a customer and a dealer, and to be honest where most disputes and equipment owner dissatisfaction are born.  This all comes from lack of warranty education given to the customer when purchasing a piece of equipment.  This is why we suggest anytime you buy a piece of equipment to ALWAYS buy from a local dealer over a “box store” that does not have repair capabilities and will not be servicing your warranty needs.  (Not to mention, dealers will take care of customers that purchased equipment from them first).  The simple fact is most of the time your salesperson, in these stores doesn’t understand warranty policies and tell you “everything” is covered under warranty.   This is simply not true, very misleading and it leaves the dealer in a bad situation to explain it, which ultimately makes the repair shop look like the “bad guy.”

What can you expect to be covered under warranty?  Great question, let us try and clear the water.  It is actually pretty simple; warranty covers any manufacture defects on your equipment.  If your equipment is not working due to a part malfunction or a workmanship issue the manufacture will cover the repair, because it has stemmed directly from the manufacture.  Now, if the failure is due to customer misuse, abuse, any adjustments needed (i.e. carburetor or alignments), you ran over something, hit something, unit has been dropped, lack of maintenance or bad/stale fuel, which is probably the single biggest issue right now (click here to read article on fuel issues), all repair costs become the owners responsibility.

We get customers in all the time that say, “my mower won’t start and it is still under warranty.”  So we get the, not so fun task of educating the customer what is and is not covered under warranty.  In most cases that fall under the “my mower won’t start” category are not covered under warranty, because 95% of the time it is a fuel related issue.  This makes the repair shop look like the “bad guys” because they were told everything is covered under warranty and were not educated on policies or issues that might not be covered.

Understand that dealers want to help you out and make it as easy as possible on you; this is how we gain customers.  So, telling a customer that the repair will not be covered under warranty is just as hard on a dealer as it is on you.  Dealers get paid by the manufacture for warranty work so your repair being covered under warranty is better for us, because every customer walks away happy not having to pay out of pocket.  Which is usually a new customer gained for dealers on future repairs or purchases, because you were taken care of with no cost to you.

The manufacture makes the final call on if a repair is covered under warranty, not the dealer.    Dealers would be out of business so fast, if we filed warrantees on every issue and the manufacture comes back and declines the repair, leaving the dealer to foot the bill.  Make no mistake either, manufactures want to make it “right” for a customer as well, because they want you buying their products in the future. 

The most important thing to remember is manufactures and dealers are on your side! We are in business and make a living because of customers, and want to make every issue “right” for you.  So, don’t shoot the messenger if you receive news that you didn’t want to hear.  Instead; be educated, ask questions and know all of your options. 

The “Up Sell” On Your Equipment

We hate the term “up sell” because it is a double edged sword.  To the customer it looks like the dealer is trying to find more problems with your equipment than what you took it in for, “up sell you”, so we can make more money.  It is true the dealer will make a little more money if other repairs need to be done, but in the case of Aztec Rental and most dealers it is not a tactic to suck a few extra dollars out of you for this one repair.  The other side of the sword is, if a customer as another issue with their equipment after a repair and nothing was said about it when it was in, they don’t understand how this happened.

There are a couple of things to note when talking about this issue.  A repair shop can only afford to tackle or look at the issue your equipment was brought in for.  Mechanics cannot spend 2 hours on a piece of equipment going over the entire machine if you took it in for an oil change and tune up, a 1 hour job.  You as a customer will and should only expect to pay for the 1 hour labor that was performed to do the job you requested, and in return a customer cannot expect a shop to find everything that is wrong with a unit while only paying for the 1 hour labor.  Second, it is a repair shop’s duty and job to inform a customer “IF” they find an issue that they think should be addressed, while performing the requested repair.

It never fails, if nothing was said about other issues dealers will get, “why didn’t you fix that when it was just in there?”

When this happens we have to look at where the problem lies.  Was it something that could be seen while performing the requested repair or was it completely unrelated to the repair.   A customer has to remember that a mechanic “might” see other issues while doing the requested repair, but they can’t spend time looking for more problems.  Charging a customer 1 hour labor if a mechanic spends 2-3 hours on a piece of equipment will put a time and money crunch on repair shops which makes it hard to stay in business with those ratios.

If and when other problems are found then it is on the dealer to contact the customer and explain the findings, give all the options, and give an opinion on what action should be taken.  Obviously there is no way to give an exact timeline of how long a part will last because it could last the rest of the time you own that equipment.  But, that being said it is on the customer to decide what they want to do after hearing the dealer’s opinion.

Bottom Line

A customer should expect a repair shop to be trustworthy and always looking out for their best interests.

Aztec Rental and most dealers have no long term benefit for making it “hard” on a customer or sucking every penny out of you for a single repair.  As stated before a bad taste in one customers mouth is one too many.  A dealers goal when a customer picks up there equipment after a repair, no matter what the cost was,  should be for you to exit with a smile and make sure you were treated fair and was taken care of in the best way possible . 

So, don’t shoot the messenger when you hear news you might not want to hear, just know Aztec Rental and most dealers are on your side!

TIP: Find a reputable, experienced and trust worthy dealer to take your equipment to, The Backfill suggests Aztec Rental.

[Biggest Factor In Engine Problems Are Fuel Related Issues]

Biggest Factor In Engine Problems Are Fuel Related Issues

March 25, 2010 9 comments

One of the most frustrating things as an equipment owner is when you go to start your lawn mower, trimmer, pressure washer or any other piece of equipment and you get nothing.  You pull and pull on the starter cord and can’t get the engine to turn over, or at the most it will run for about 20 seconds and then dies.

Raise your hand if this has happened to you. 

No surprises to us, but the majority of you have your hand in the air.  In most cases when you run across this problem it is due to a fuel related issue.  It could be old stale fuel, or maybe contamination from trash, debris or water in your fuel.  Either way, you get the same result of frustration and possibly a broken or bruised foot from when you just kicked your machine.

So what is the shelf life of gasoline? 

This is a very good question; there are many different opinions on shelf life and many factors that affect the life of gasoline.   With the properties of gasoline and the inclusion of ethanol in some fuels it is said the shelf life has decreased.  The fact of the matter is, and you probably don’t want to hear this, but the fuel can in your garage might only hold its properties for a month or so. 

What makes gasoline go bad or stale?

1)         The lighter chemicals in gasoline evaporate, which leaves a heavier, less potent fuel behind. Basically, gasoline vaporizes readily so if unused, its more volatile components waft away.

2)        Oxidation can occur, which is when some of the hydrocarbons in the fuel react with oxygen to produce new compounds and this is not good for gasoline.  When oxidation is starting to affect your fuel, it can be detected because it will give off a sour odor, the fuel will have turned darker and you might find small solid particles of gum.

3)        Then there is contamination of fuel.  This happens if any dirt, debris or the main culprit water gets into the equipment fuel tank or your gas can. Water usually gets into stored gas from condensation as temperatures fluctuate.

These issues are the main cause of your frustration when you can’t get your engine to turn over.  Any and all of these fuel problems can cause filters to clog, blocked carburetor injectors, gum up fuel lines, gum up carburetor or foul your plugs and engine.  Obviously none of these outcomes are good and will require you to get your equipment serviced.  The service usually will include; flush and clean fuel tank and fuel system, clean carburetor and injectors, and possibly replacement of filters and plugs.  All this results in a little dent in your pocket-book to go along with the frustration and foot problems you now have.

As a dealer and repair shop fuel related problems are one of the most difficult things to explain to a customer, and probably the number one reason for dissatisfaction in a customer.  Telling a customer they have to pay for the service, especially if the unit is still under warranty, usually isn’t a smooth process.  But we, Aztec Rental understand your concerns and questions and try to educate and explain until the customer has an understanding of the issue and feel comfortable with our findings.  Trust me, Aztec Rental and most dealers are not out to get you.

Here are some images of bad fuel use in engines from are freinds over at STIHL

Fuel Residue This trimmer engine was damaged due to the use of old, stale fuel mix. As the fuel ages, the lighter molecules combust differently and will interact differently with the mix oil. In this case the combustion of the fuel deposited a heavy layer of carbon and fuel residue throughout the combustion chamber.
Fuel Residue on Carburetor Here’s another example of the residue left in the carburetor metering chamber due to the use of old, stale fuel. Again the inlet needle is stuck and the main nozzle is partially blocked. There is less than a 50/50 chance the carburetor can be cleaned and returned to serviceable condition. Most technicians would consider replacing the carburetor as the more reliable repair.
Water Damage This is an example of the damage that occurs when water is present in the fuel. This carburetor cannot be repaired and would require replacement.

For more information on the subject from STIHL click here.

Tips on keeping your fuel fresh

  • Store fuel in clean containers with tight caps
  • Keep container nearly full to reduce exposure to air, allow room for gas to expand and contract as the temperature changes
  • Store in cool place to reduce evaporation and oxidation
  • Use a fuel stabilizer

We hope this helps ease your frustration a little, and you better get that foot looked at.

Related Articles:
Ethanol 101: 4 Main Problems With Ethanol Fuel (E10)
Don’t Shoot The Messenger; Equipment Repair and Warranty Work