ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an international trade association representing more than 100 small engine, utility vehicle, and outdoor power equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and the National Marine Manufacturers Assn. (NMMA), the leading trade organization for the North American recreational boating industry,  today launched “Protect Your Power,” a consumer education program in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement last week intending to expand the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol (E15) to year round. Outdoor power equipment, UTVs, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and other small engine equipment are not designed, built or warranted to run on higher ethanol fuel blends, such as E15. OPEI has long advised and educated consumers about the changing fuels marketplace, and advises consumers to remain vigilant about proper fueling of these important investments.

“Fuels containing more than 10% ethanol can damage or destroy outdoor power equipment and other small engines,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI president and CEO. “Fueling correctly – with E10 or less gas – is the best way to protect your outdoor power equipment and keep it running strong, so it will be there for you when you need it. The last thing you want is for your generator to not work during a storm, your chainsaw not to start when you need to remove fallen trees and limbs, or other equipment to fail when a job needs to get done. Read your owner’s manuals for guidance on correct fueling for any equipment or small engine product. Don’t just choose on price. Protect your power.”

Thom Dammrich, NMMA president, stated, “Most consumers are unaware that fuel with ethanol blends exceeding 10% can destroy small engines, including those in boats. Instead, they are blindsided when they show up for an engine repair – or worse, become stranded on the water – to find out they’ve been using the wrong fuel and voided their warranty. Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s proposed E15 sales expansion will only add to this problem.”

Dammrich continued, “Because the risk of mis-fueling is increasing, it’s imperative that we redouble our education efforts to better ensure consumers have the tools they need to protect themselves at the pump. To that effect, NMMA is honored to partner with OPEI on the Protect Your Power campaign – an important initiative that will help prevent American consumers, including 142 million boaters, from mis-fueling. And, we encourage other stakeholders to join us in this endeavor.”

Research supports the need for more consumer education to protect equipment from mis-fueling, notes Kiser. According to annual research conducted by OPEI with the Harris Poll, an ever-increasing number of outdoor power equipment owners are using the wrong type of fuel in their products. In 2018, 11% of consumers reported using E15, E30, E50, or E85 to fuel their equipment, up from 7% in 2015. One in five Americans (20%) think it is legal to put gasoline with an ethanol content higher than 10 percent into engines.

“Remember, as the fuels marketplace has changed, you can no longer count on being able to put the same fuel in your mower, generator, chain saw, trimmer or other equipment that you also use in your car or truck,” said Kiser. “Unfortunately, the small warning stickers placed on fuel pumps are not enough to prevent mis-fueling and do little to educate consumers. Consumers need to be vigilant year round when it comes to fueling and remember that E10 or less is always best for outdoor power equipment.”