ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- As consumers head to retail stores this spring to purchase mowers, chain saws, generators, blowers, trimmers, power washers, and a host of other small engine equipment, they will see an important ethanol fuel message from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing 100 small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers. The message to ‘Look Before You Pump’ will help consumers protect their outdoor power and small engine equipment investments.
In thousands of retail store aisles across the country and in spring preview circulars and catalogs, consumers will be reminded that it is harmful and illegal to use higher than 10 percent ethanol gas in any outdoor power equipment or other non-road product, such as boats, snowmobiles and motorcycles, with the exception of “flex-fuel” engine products. Independent dealers began using the ‘Look Before You Pump’ message in their stores in fall 2013.
Lowe’s and Walmart are supporting the educational program through in-store signage and circulars, and True Value Hardware will highlight the program on the back cover of its spring outdoor power catalog. Additionally, Scripps Networks Interactive’s DIY Network is supporting the program through social media promotion, custom research and in-show messaging.
Known by its emblematic prominent, red warning hand symbol indicating ‘OK’ for 10 percent ethanol and ‘No’ for mid-level ethanol blends (such as E15, E30, E85), the ‘Look Before You Pump’ campaign is spreading nationwide as ethanol blended fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol are made available in the marketplace for “flex-fuel” automobiles.
“OPEI’s ‘Look Before You Pump’ campaign is designed to protect consumers’ equipment investment by educating them on using the right fuel for the right product,” said Michael Jones, chief merchandising officer at Lowe’s. “The campaign offers a simple yet effective way to inform customers about the adverse impact of higher than 10 percent ethanol fuel blends on outdoor power equipment for which it is not designed.”
According to senior vice president and chief merchandising officer at True Value Company, Ken Goodgame, “OPEI’s ‘Look Before You Pump’ campaign is exactly what our stores need to meet the challenges posed by higher ethanol fuel blends. We used to see about a 70 percent fuel related failure rate, but now with E10 and E15, we find that up to 80 percent of all portable and four-stroke OPE failures that come back in our stores are related to fuel, so we recommend customers use a fuel stabilizer. Ethanol has proven to be a corrosive and problematic fuel additive, and we are keen to share the ‘Look Before You Pump’ warning with our customers.”
According to Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO of Briggs & Stratton Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of small engines, and OPEI’s board chair, “It is critical that we educate all users of outdoor power equipment about the dangers misfueling can cause to their equipment. Our number one goal is to protect our customers, and the more we can get this information in front of them, the better off they will be.”
“We’ve been very pleased with the level of support for ‘Look Before You Pump’ from retailers and dealers who sell small engine and outdoor power equipment. They understand the importance of cautioning American consumers and the business owners whose livelihood depends on our equipment to be more mindful at the gas pump. It’s imperative that the consumer is educated about the changing fuels marketplace and getting the right fuel for the right product,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI.
OPEI urges consumers to read their equipment operating manual before filling equipment with gasoline to ensure they use the right fuel for that engine. For more information, visit www.LookBeforeYouPump.com and search for #LookB4UPump on Twitter and Facebook.
Recent research shows high-ethanol blends of gasoline can damage or destroy small engines not designed to handle it. A summer 2013 OPEI/Harris Interactive study shows the vast majority of Americans (71 percent) are “not at all sure” if it is illegal or legal to put high level ethanol gas (i.e., anything higher than 10 percent ethanol) into engines such as those in boats, mowers, chain saws, snow mobiles, generators and other engine products.