John Deere Maintenance Monday: Emptying old mower gas
Radio interview source: Bobby Grisso, Extension Engineer, Virginia Tech University
Patty in Illinois is getting her lawn mower ready for the season, and realizes she didn't drain the gas from last fall. Is this going to be a problem?
Ag Engineer Bobby Grisso at Virginia Tech University says gas left in the tank over the winter will be fine if a stabilizer was added last fall. If not, you'll have a lot of grief trying to start the mower.
"What basically happens during storage of gasoline, especially over three or four months," says Grisso, "is that the compounds start to get removed from the gasoline, or the gasoline actually vaporizes, and some of the additives that are inside become like a varnish on the surfaces of your lawn mower."
That's critical, especially in your carburetor, because the varnish has the tendency to make everything stick, and coat your needle valves. When you prime the engine, it will try to clean itself out, but only sputter.
Grisso says pouring in a fuel additive isn't going to help at this point. You must dump out the old gas and put in fresh. This is easy to do on a small mower. You can siphon it out, or simply remove the tank by unscrewing the nuts that hold it on. If the tank is part of the motor system, you'll have to turn the mower on its side.
"Anytime you flip your engine over like that, it means the oil can go up in some upper chambers and maybe even leak through the piston rings," says Grisso. "And that'll give you a lot of difficulty on starting as well. So, if you have to flip your small engine completely over in order to get the gasoline out, drain the oil first."
Once you've added fresh gas, try starting the mower until you get enough fuel flowing through the carburetor. Be patient, as the gas may have a hard time getting through. Once it does, the crud should move through the system.
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