Survey: Many consumers ignore ethanol-blend levels in fuel


A survey found that many customers don’t pay attention to ethanol-blend levels in gasoline or to warning labels and are primarily influenced by fuel cost.

Awareness and knowledge of how to use high-ethanol fuel blends remains relatively unchanged among consumers during the past few years, according to a recent national poll conducted online by the Harris Poll on behalf of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

OPEI conducted similar research in 2013 and 2015.

The 2016 poll shows that almost two-thirds (64 percent) of American adults age 18 and older who own outdoor power equipment say they either are not sure (42 percent) or do not pay attention (22 percent) to the type of fuel they are using.

In 2015, almost half (45 percent) were not sure what type of fuel they used and one in five (20 percent) did not pay attention to the type of fuel used.

Gasoline containing greater than 10 percent ethanol, or E10, can damage or destroy outdoor power equipment, including lawn mowers, chain saws, generators, utility vehicles and other small-engine equipment such as motorcycle, snowmobile and boat engines, according to most engine manufacturers. It also has been shown to harm boat engines.

Yet the poll, conducted in March, shows that 66 percent of Americans will use the least expensive grade of gasoline whenever possible, compared with 63 percent in 2015 and 71 percent in 2013.

Also, 60 percent of Americans assume that any gas sold at a gas station must be safe for all of their vehicles or power equipment, compared with 57 percent in 2015 and 64 percent in 2013. By federal law it is illegal to use those higher-ethanol fuel blends in outdoor power equipment.

“The research continues to prove that Americans are still unaware of the damage that can occur to their outdoor power equipment as a result of misfueling,” Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI, said in a statement. “There are 100 million legacy outdoor power equipment products in homeowners’ garages, maintenance sheds and facilities across America. The scope of this issue is massive and shows that much more education is needed.”