Look Before You Pump Campaign: What is it?

OPEI_logoIn the push for “greener” fuels that are more eco-friendly no matter where they’re used, many gas stations have begun selling gasoline with varying concentrations of ethanol and other compounds. These additives are designed to make the fuel a bit better on the environment, largely by reducing the emissions released into the air per gallon. While the goals of these additives are noble, their effect on some engines can be downright devastating. That’s where the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s latest marketing campaign comes in. The “Look Before You Pump” initiative is designed to fend off long-term engine damage via high-ethanol fuels before it ruins consumers’ equipment.

What is the “Look Before You Pump” Campaign?

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute regularly engages in marketing and consumer information campaigns that are designed to extend the life of power equipment, make homeowners’ lives easier when they have to use their equipment, and encourage good maintenance of all power equipment tools throughout the year. Recently, the organization has been confronted with an overwhelming number of statistics indicating most American consumers simply do not know the difference between fuels. Furthermore, most Americans don’t understand why the fuel they use in the cars and power equipment tools can make a difference in terms of efficiency, longevity, and even noise levels.

To that end, “Look Before You Pump” is a coordinated effort to spread helpful information about fuel types through an official website as well as social media channels. The campaign focuses centrally on E15 fuels, which contain as much as 15 percent ethanol and just 85 percent traditional gasoline. The high concentration of ethanol can do real damage to a small engine, causing power equipment to fail prematurely. Often, the equipment has to be completely replaced rather than repaired.

The same problems befall many of today’s automobiles, since many cars simply can’t handle fuels with higher concentrations of ethanol. By navigating to LookBeforeYouPump.com, or searching for the #LookB4UPump hashtag on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, consumers are able to learn more about this fuel, its best uses, when to avoid it, and what happens if it’s used with the wrong type of engine.

Why is the Campaign So Important?

Ethanol-based fuels are becoming more and more common at gas stations all across the country. Originally, fuels contained 10 percent ethanol at most. In recent years, that concentration has risen as high as 15 percent at some gas stations. Even specialty ethanol fuels like E85, with 85 percent ethanol and just 15 percent gasoline, have been made available for sale at these gas stations. That’s not necessarily a bad thing when taken at face value, but it can mean safety risks and equipment failure for consumers who don’t know the difference between each option.

Worth noting is that a staggering number of Americans simply don’t know the difference between available fuel mixtures and the implication of each mixture on their cars or equipment. As many as 71 percent of Americans aren’t even sure if it’s legal or illegal to use high-ethanol fuels in cars, boats, or even lawn mowers.

Further, and perhaps more ominously, up to 64 percent of Americans simply trust that the fuel offered by their nearest gas station is the right one for every engine they use on a regular basis. A larger 70 percent of Americans admit to pumping the lowest grade gasoline and using it indiscriminately, no matter its additives or ethanol concentration.

This leads to several problems, the most significant of which is engine damage that can ruin power equipment, recreational vehicles, and automobiles. The second potential problem is a distinct loss of fuel economy, since high-ethanol fuels only perform well in engines specifically designed to take advantage of them. Combined, these problems have immediate and long-term cost issues that can set consumers up for a great deal of extra spending, virtually on a routine basis. With the “Look Before You Pump” campaign, the OPEI is helping to educate consumers about ethanol content, fuel grades, and the importance of making the right choice for each engine in active use.

What Can Be Done to Ensure the Right Fuel is Used Every Time?

Never pump fuel without understanding the additives used in that fuel, the concentration of ethanol, and the octane grade of the gasoline. These three components will make the fuel’s utility in a car, lawn mower, or snowblower perfectly clear. All fuel used in power equipment should be within the guidelines expressed in the owner’s manual that was bundled with the equipment at the time of purchase. Most manufacturers recommend gasoline with a 10 percent ethanol concentration or less. Most encourage the use of higher octane fuels in more powerful engines. Always look at the manual, and the fuel rating, before pumping a single drop.

Where Can Customers Go for Power Equipment Service or Replacement Parts?

RalphHelmInc.com offers power equipment owners and enthusiasts the largest lineup of new models and OEM replacement parts. With an easy-to-use parts lookup tool and several of the biggest brands in the industry always available, consumers can find everything they need for seasonal maintenance work all year long.

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