It’s not like filling up your car with gasoline.
Understanding oil:gas mixtures are one of the most difficult tasks for new weed eater owners. But it’s not just new owners – after a season or two away, it’s easy to forget the right steps to mix before refueling. How much oil is enough? No one wants to run their engine on the wrong fuel – even if it is a relatively inexpensive 2-cycle motor.
Using the wrong fuel can lead to serious issues. You can end up permanently damaging the engine if you forget to put oil in the mix. Even if you don’t damage your string trimmer, you will likely see either excessive smoke or reduced power if you don’t get the weed eater oil to gas ratio correct.
Not only will the right kind of fuel make your weed wacker operate efficiently, but it keeps it safe as well. Read on for more information to make it an easy exercise.
How to Mix two-Cycle Oil and Fuel Properly
Step 1: Start by reading the manual for your weed eater. You can get additional information regarding the fuel mixtures and fuel grade if you RTFM. If you’ve lost or destroyed it, contact your manufacturer to receive another copy of it. Often companies will have electronic copies on their website.
MAKE SURE YOU NEED TO MIX YOUR OIL AND GASOLINE! Some engines have an oil tank and self-mix. You can damage your engine if you burn oil-mixed fuel in these tools.
Step 2: Use a safe container for the job. I know you aren’t the person that mixes gasoline and a used milk carton, but just in case – DON’T! It’s easiest if your gas gan has a long spout and a solid cap to keep the fumes in. This is especially important if you are storing the remaining fuel in the garage.
Plastic cans have come a long way and are lighter than their metal counterparts. I prefer them.
Step 3: Consider purchasing premium unleaded gasoline. Going with the cheap stuff can prove to be a big problem later on. In reformulated gas areas, you’ll sometimes find ethanol-free gas at the higher tiers. This is a lifesaver for older gas equipment.
Step 4: Make sure you use a high-quality oil. STIHL premium quality two-cycle engine oil is one recommendation. This kind of engine oil is designed for delivering the highest level of protection for two-cycle engines.
Step 5: Mix the correct weed eater oil to gas ratio for your two-cycle engine. Most are either 40:1 or 50:1 gas-to-oil ratios. Realistically, you won’t kill an engine if you get the wrong mix ratio (as you will eventually running it on non-oiled gas). Still, it’s best to get the ratio right.
Weed Eater Oil To Gas Ratio
If you are mixing a 40:1 gas-to-oil ratio, mix 3.2 U.S. ounces of oil for every 1 gallon of gas you need.
If you are mixing a 50:1 gas-to-oil ratio, mix 2.6 U.S. ounces of oil for every gallon of gas you need.
Step 6: First pour the oil into the gas can. After, add the gasoline at the right mix ratio. Once done, you can close the fuel canister. Do not forget to shake the canister by hand to get them completely mixed.
Step 7: Don’t go overboard on how much fuel you mix. Mix only enough gasoline that you will use in your engine in the next three months. If you need to store oiled gas longer, there are additives you can use, but they aren’t cheap.
I hope this is helpful. If you have questions, please leave them below.
Fuel Mix for a Weed Eater
A gas-powered weed eater, or string trimmer, is powerful and mobile. This type of equipment must be operated according to the manufacturer's instructions. And, like any quality or professional-grade equipment, proper operation and maintenance will keep your equipment operating properly for years to come.
Correct Weed Eater Oil Mix
The precise blend of oil to fuel varies according to the manufacturer’s specifications. After purchasing a gas-powered weed eater, read all the documentation and operating manuals.
The experts at Stihl USA recommend a blend of 50:1 gasoline to oil, which is achievable by mixing 2.6 ounces of oil per 1 gallon of fuel. Weed Eater writers suggest a 40:1 blend, which translates to 3.2 ounces of oil per 1 gallon of gasoline. Only mix up the amount of fuel/oil blend you plan to use in your current weeding session, as it doesn’t age well and can separate. Lower octane fuel also will accumulate water at the bottom, which leads to other problems.
When blending, use a second container separate from your stored gasoline or the fuel tank of your weed eater. Doing so allows you to carefully measure out the volumes and blend it without shaking something loose on your engine. Never rely on a “guesstimate” or an “eyeball” of the mixture. This blend should be measured precisely.
What Not to Do
If you’re new to two-cycle engines and more familiar with four-cycle models, you may be confused as to why you need to mix oil into your fuel instead of simply operating the weed eater on regular gasoline. As the team at Thriving Yard state, you should follow very specific ratios and fuel types for two-cycle engines for several reasons. Firstly, unlike four-cycle engines, two-cycle models don't store oil and fuel separately. As the blended fuel is burned, the oil lubricates the engine. According to advice from Weed Eater writers, if you operate the device with gasoline only, you'll ruin it within minutes.
What about the advice to use high-octane gasoline? You may be wondering, "Why can’t I put regular gasoline in my weed eater?" Upgraded Home writers explain that anything less than an 89 octane rating can cause irregularities and slowly corrode your two-cycle engine. Ethanol is added to gasoline to reduce emissions (it reduces the amount of crude oil in the mix), but it also draws in and binds any moisture. Introducing water into your fuel-oil mixture will slow down your engine and cause damage to its operation.
As a result, while you can use an ethanol-fuel mix up to 10 percent ethanol, more than that not only can damage your weed eater, but it's actually illegal. Always go with premium gasoline, preferably between 90 and 93 octane rating. Lower octane contains too much ethanol, and higher burns too hot for a smaller engine.
Storing Weed Eaters
As discussed earlier, you don’t want to leave your fuel-oil mix in the weed eater while it’s stored for longer than a month. Gasoline will start to go "off" after 30 days as the ethanol accumulates moisture, and it becomes all but unusable after 90 days unless kept in an airtight container. To safely store your weed eater over a longer period, follow a recommended process.
- First, empty your fuel tank if it still has anything in it.
- Run your weed eater until it burns off all the fuel before storing it for a few days. If anything remains in the tank, pour it back into your blending container.
- Add a small amount of fuel stabilizer, which is widely available at hardware and auto parts stores and gas stations.
- Once you’ve blended in the stabilizer, add it back to the fuel tank and run your weed eater for at least 15 minutes to allow it to coat the entire system. The stabilizer will bond with your fuel and prevent oxidization or moisture accumulation, ensuring proper operation for the next trimming season.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, <a href="https://www.wordsmythcontent.com/">Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing</a>, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, <a href="https://www.sweetfrivolity.com/">Sweet Frivolity</a>.
Gas weed eaters should be refueled regularly to function properly. The fuel used differs according to the type of string trimmer you use. There are basically two types of gas powered string trimmers: 2-cycle and 4-cycle engines. The 2-cycle string trimmer is lighter and has more power packed in the same sized engine as a 4-cycle. The heavier 4-cycle string trimmer runs quieter with less fumes than the 2-cycle.
Most likely, you own a 2-cycle weed eater but it’s important to check because of the differences in engine design in maintenance. Lets take a look at the 4 cycle case first.
Refueling Your 4-Cycle Weed Whacker
Unlike the 2-cycle string trimmers, 4-cycle units do not require the oil and fuel to be mixed in the gas tank. The weed whacker has its own oil pump that dispenses oil to the piston and crankcase. The fuel used can be the same as you use for your lawnmower.
That doesn’t mean 4-cycle engines are oil-less. You do still need to add oil to the oil reservoir. If you neglect to refill the oil, the piston will likely overheat and wear against the engine. In layman’s terms, that’s not a good thing.
Lubricate the crankcase of the 4-cycle weed whacker regularly to ensure that the weed whacker operates smoothly.
What Kind of Oil is Used in 4-Cycle Weed Whackers?
Use a high-quality oil. Most manufacturers provide factory tested oils for the weed eater. The engine works at a high speed creating heat and friction. When buying oil look for the American Petroleum Institute (API) designation.
There should have been included in your new purchase a small bottle of oil. Keep the empty bottle to measure the amount of oil required. Tilt the engine and open the oil cap. Empty the bottle of oil into the hole. Use a funnel if you threw the empty bottle away by accident. Check the oil level to prevent overflowing.
You’ll need to change the oil roughly after 25-30 hours of usage. Replace with clean oil. The first oil change should be done after about 10 hours of working with your weed whacker.
Refueling Your 2-Cycle Weed Eater
2 cycle engine design is much simplier. That’s good in that there are less parts to break, but it does mean more work for you. With no oil pump, the engine of a 2-cycle weed eater is lubricated with a fuel-oil mixture.
What Kind of Oil Is Used in Your 2-Cycle Weed Eater?
The 2-cycle air-cooled engine requires the exact fuel-oil mixture to keep the piston lubricated. Without the fuel-oil mixture, the engine can seize. Too little oil in the mixture will scar the piston.
What is the Exact Ratio Unleaded Gasoline to Oil You Should Add to The String Trimmer?
The exact ratio differs from brand to brand. The most common ratios ar 40:1 and 50:1, but others exist as well. A 40:1 ratio is what most weed eater brands require (the ratio means 40 oz. of gasoline for every ounce of oil). The 40:1 ratio equals 3.2 ounces of oil for every 1-gallon tank of fuel.
Don’t assume you have a 40:1 ratio engine. Make sure that you check your manual. There are brands that require a 50:1 ratio which equals 2.6 ounces oil for 1-gallon fuel. If you’re not sure, check the correct ratio stamped onto the fuel tank or cap.
It is recommended to use at least 87-octane with maximum 10% ethanol.
The use of high-quality oil is essential. Although your lawnmower oil can be used in a 4-cycle string trimmer, it is not recommended for a 2-cycle weed whacker. Neither is the oil for your snow mobile or automobile adequate for a 2-cycle engine.
I happen to live in an area where non-ethanol fuel is sold, primarily for refueling boat engines. If you are this lucky, use non-ethanol formulated fuel in your 2-cycle engine. Really. It’ll save you time and hassle down the road.
If you are forced to use an ethanol version of gas, use at least a 89-octane fuel. You also don’t want to store more than 30 days of non-stabilized fuel. Water has a way of working into the gasoline from the outside air. Once inside, it’ll separate from the fuel. Water and engines don’t mix well.
How Do You Know You’ve Added the Wrong Fuel-Oil Ratio to The Fuel Tank of The String Trimmer?
Sometimes the manufacturer’s manual is unclear and you’re not sure you’ve mixed the correct ratio. Perhaps you accidentally mixed the wrong formula. How do you know you’ve made a mistake without making it worse and permanently damaging the engine? Here are a few pointers:
- If you’ve added too little oil, there’s a loss of power when the engine is hot. Another sign is that the engine feels or ‘smells’ hot. This smell is hard to describe, but think of the fumes an engine gives off as it begins to overheat. It’s metallic in nature.
- With too much oil, you will notice blue smoke or the excess oil drips from the string trimmer exhaust.
- If the engine doesn’t want to start, there may not be enough fuel-oil mixture added or the oil or gas is older than 3 months or dirty.
- If the fuel contains more than 10% ethanol it’s likely the weed wacker engine will run irregularly. The longer the gas sits in the tank, the more likely you are to have problems.
There is a greater danger of seizing the engine when too little oil is added than with excess oil. If you really don’t know and can’t seem to find any documentation, you can run most engines for a little while with a 50:1 ratio without too many problems. This isn’t a long-term strategy though.
If you see any of the above signs, stop the string trimmer immediately. Drain the fuel-oil mixture and mix a fresh blend.
How To Change the Fuel-Oil Mixture of the 2-Cycle Weed Whacker
To re-fuel your weed whacker you need the following:
- Eye and ear protection
- Gas container
- 2-Cycle engine oil for specific weed whacker brand
- Fresh Fuel
- Measuring cup and funnel
- Gas container for mixing the fuel and oil
Step 1: Wear eye and ear protection against accidental fuel spillage. Unplug the spark plug wire from the spark plug. Place a plastic container on the ground to avoid fuel spills on the ground.
Step 2: Take off the cap of the fuel tank. Turn the weed eater upside down to drain fuel from the tank. Recycle the fuel mixture; do not spill it onto the lawn or ground. It can contaminate the nearby water as the oil seeps into the ground.
Step 3: Prepare the right mixture of fuel and oil. First, pour the mixture into the gas container. Do not mix directly in the fuel tank. Gently shake the mixture to blend it properly before filling the fuel tank.
Step 4: Reposition the spark plug wire to the spark plug as before.
If you are not going to use the string trimmer in the next 30 days, drain the fuel from the fuel tank. When emptied, start the engine until it stops. This will prevent clogging from old fuel that is absorbing water from the atmosphere. Once it’s in your fuel line, it’s a lot of work to fix the problem correctly.
If you’ve mixed the ratio correctly and the string trimmer doesn’t want to start, it may be other maintenance issues such as spark plugs or a dirty air filter.
When it comes time to trim the lawn, a mower will only get you so far. For the finishing touches, you have to rely on a string trimmer, known in backyard vernacular as the weed whacker. At the moment, there are a number of different styles and brands on the market, each offering different capabilities. I recently had the opportunity to check out three new trimmers--two of which had cutting-edge fuel types--to see how they rated against one another.
I tested the Worx GT Cordless Trimmer ($150), powered by an 18-volt lithium-ion battery; the four-cycle Lehr Propane Trimmer ($180), powered by a small 25-cc propane tank; and Troy-Bilt's two-cycle TB80 EC, which launches in the next few months and runs on the traditional gas/oil mix. I set up a specific test to rate the power and stamina of the machines, but I also used each one around the yard under normal circumstances to get a general feel for ergonomics, noise, and ease of startup.
To investigate the strength of these trimmers, I trekked a quarter-mile behind my house to an abandoned quarry and found an area filled with waist-high weeds, overgrown crab grass, and a host of other unwanted, sinister-looking plants. It reminded me of the terrain that Frodo and Sam traveled on their way to Mordor. For the test, I staked out three identical three-foot by 3-foot squares, and recorded the time it took for each trimmer to reduce its designated area to a putting-green level of growth.
First up was the Craftsman-branded Lehr four-cycle propane trimmer. This one cleared the area in a hasty eleven seconds. The trimmer was very aggressive and went through the thicker weeds without pause. When I was done, it looked as if the area had been prepped for a helicopter landing.
The Troy-Bilt two-cycle gas/oil was next. It accomplished the task one second faster than the Lehr, clocking in at ten seconds. Once again, total weed devastation.
Up last was the Worx 18-volt battery trimmer. Just looking at the light-duty tool, I knew it was out-matched by the tangled mess of growth, but I fired it up and had at it. The Worx put up a much better fight than I thought it would. In 30 seconds, it managed to cut all but the thickest weeds.
Run Time on a Full Tank
To test the run time of the Worx, I clicked in a freshly charged battery, duct taped the trigger down on full throttle and started the stopwatch. Because the trimmer is so quiet, it was no problem running the test until the battery died, which occurred at some point during the 26th minute.
I then taped up the Troy-Bilt trimmer and started the timer. This testing took place in a residential neighborhood at twilight, and it wasn't long before I got a little wary about how long the experiment would last with the intense screaming of the fully engaged two-stroke engine. So I called it quits at about 20 minutes. But I recorded the gas/oil tank level at the start of the test, and what remained led me to believe that the fuel would last well over an hour running at constant maximum speed.
Lehr's manufacturer claims a run time of about 2 hours (the opaque tank prohibits a visual check, and noise again limited the test length). Even if the Lehr didn't last the complete two hours at full throttle, it's safe to say that both the propane Lehr and the gas/oil Troy-Bilt can squeeze a single tank of fuel for at least twice as long as the battery-powered Worx.
Ease of Startup
Because of the different power sources, each tool has a different startup procedure.
The Troy-Bilt has the same tedious procedure of all other two-cycle trimmers and chain saws; prime, choke, pull, choke, pull, curse, pull and finally throttle.
With the Worx, once the battery charges (in about 30 minutes), it's just a matter of clicking it into place and pulling the trigger.
The Lehr also has an easy start--just connect a small bottle of propane to the engine and pull the starter cord. It takes a few pulls to get the engine running and warmed up, but it's nice not having to deal with the messy aspect of mixing oil and gas.
As the endurance test above proves, this one is important for your own health and for diplomacy with your neighbors. The four-cycle Craftsman propane model emitted the low rumble of a Harley-Davidson pulling up to a stoplight, and the oil/gas Troy-Bilt had the familiar string trimmer whine, like a 30-pound mutant mosquito buzzing past your shoulder. I didn't use a decibel meter to determine which was worse, but subjectively, the Troy-Bilt's sound was the most annoying. (To be fair, we used a two-stroke--if noise is a big issue, go for a slightly quieter four-stroke model).
But neither type of combustion engine can compete with the whisper-quiet Worx. Its 18-volt battery hummed away at volume lower than a hair dryer. The sound of the string whipping the weeds still makes a bit of a racket, though.
The Worx was a clear winner in this category. First, there is no large motor to heave. Even though it has the shortest shaft, the trimmer head articulates, so it can be shifted to allow a six-foot five-incher to trim while standing up straight. The longer shafts of the other models left me working while hunched.
The Worx is also the lightest by a long shot, weighing only 5.5 pounds. The Craftsman weighs more than three times that--17.5 pounds. The Troy-Bilt weighs a manageable 13.2 pounds.
The Craftsman model does have a shoulder strap, which helps distribute the weight. I tested the Craftsman by itself throughout the summer, and it didn't seem all that heavy. It was only in comparison to the others that it felt overweight.
The Worx was the winner in several of my tests--it had a very easy startup, it was light as a feather, effortless to maneuver around, and compared to the others it was quieter than a sleeping cat. But its ease of use sacrifices strength, and the trade off caused the Worx to suffer in runtime and overall power. Depending on your lawn, these may be the most important criteria.
Yet for my needs, the Troy-Bilt works the best. I'm no fan of the oil/gas procedure, but the traditional tool has had more time to be perfected and has the most balanced combination of capable power and moderate weight. I just need to make sure I keep a good supply of ear plugs around.
If you want all of the power with none of the gasoline emissions, the propane-powered Craftsman is a great choice. This new type of fuel, like the lithium-ion, goes up against an established oil/gas platform that's slowly matured to a nearly optimum design. In many categories, these fresh technologies went toe-to-toe with the industry standard. I look forward to seeing how the technology has evolved by this time next year, when I'm waist-deep in another summer's worth of weeds.
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For trimmer fuel
There are two different types of gasoline-fueled weed eaters: 2-cycle and 4-cycle. Each one has different fuel requirements, so you need to know which one you have and how to handle it properly.
Here’s some essential information regarding weed eater fuel:
- 2-cycle weed eaters typically use a 40:1 or 50:1 ratio of fuel to oil.
- 4-cycle weed eaters keep the gas and oil separate, so you can use regular fuel.
- Never use fuel that contains more than 10% of ethanol, as many small engines aren’t equipped to handle that ingredient.
Those are the basics, but there are a couple of other factors you should consider, such as how to store your weed eater over winter and whether or not you should use fuel stabilizers. You should also understand why you shouldn’t use fuel that contains a lot of ethanol, so continue reading to learn more.
Never Use Fuel With More Than 10% Ethanol
You can use gasoline that contains 10% ethanol, but do not go over that amount. Gasoline with 10% ethanol is also called E10, which is what’s provided at almost every gas station these days.
Personally, I stopped using fuel with ethanol in my outdoor powered yard tools some time back. If you are going to use it though, stay at 10% or less.
It is illegal to use gasoline with more than 10% ethanol in weed eaters and other outdoor power equipment.
What Is Ethanol?
Ethanol is added to gasoline to reduce exhaust emissions. It mixes with the gasoline and therefore reduces the amount of crude oil, so that way, fuel tanks aren’t burning pure gasoline. It’s usually made with corn or sugarcane and a denaturant. A denaturant makes the mixture unfit to be consumed by humans, and the federal law requires that ethanol contains 2% denaturant.
Why High Ethanol Content Fuel Shouldn’t Be Used In Weed Eaters
Why is it unsafe for weed eaters if it can be used in vehicles? Ethanol draws and locks in moisture. Small engines on outdoor appliances like weed eaters and lawnmowers weren’t made to handle significant amounts of water. Fuel tanks are vented, which means air from the outside can get inside, and the air is typically humid, especially in the summer months, and it’s even worse if you live in a very humid area.
Once the ethanol absorbs moisture, the moisture will separate from the gasoline and settle at the bottom of the fuel tank. This is when it becomes a problem. The fuel tank burns what sits at the bottom, so the engine will have to burn through water before it gets to the gas. Burning water can damage your engine. It can cause it to lose engine power and lose acceleration.
Ethanol is a solvent, which is another issue with weed eaters. It can loosen up debris inside the fuel tank and cause it to float around in the fuel. It will eventually make its way through the entire fuel system and clog everything.
Never use gasoline that contains more than 10% ethanol. For one, it’s illegal, but it will also cause several problems.
For more information, read Ethanol And The Growing Issue Of Small Engine Problems.
Pay Attention When Purchasing Gas At The Pump
The Clean Air Act of 1990 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 have required that most of the gasoline sold in the United States contain some ethanol, so it might be difficult to find ethanol-free or E10 gasoline in some areas.
It can be tricky to find E10 or ethanol-free fuel, especially since some gas stations sell E15 gas as “88 octane,” making it unclear how much ethanol is in the gas. Some stations offer several different options like E15, E30, and even E85, which is 85% ethanol.
Be a smart shopper. Don’t get duped by enticing marketing and cheap prices. Cheaper doesn’t mean less ethanol. In fact, E85 might be cheaper than E10. As previously mentioned, ethanol is made from crops like corn and sugarcane, which are affordable crops. More ethanol means more crops and less crude oil, so ethanol gas can be cheaper to produce.
Read your owner’s manual and the gas pump before you buy fuel. Some weed eaters and other outdoor equipment might not even be able to use E10 gasoline, so make sure you know that beforehand. Be sure you’re certain what kind of gasoline you’re buying at the pump, so you don’t inadvertently damage your equipment or break the law.
Ensure A Proper Mix Of Oil And Gas In Two-Stroke Engines
4-cycle weed eaters have two separate compartments: one for fuel and one for oil. The gas is burned to power the machine, while the oil is used to lubricate the engine. But 2-cycle weed eaters only have one fuel tank where the oil and fuel are mixed together. As the gas is burned for power, the oil simultaneously lubricates the engine as it’s burned along with the gas.
2-cycle weed eaters require a specific ratio of oil to gasoline. Too much oil can damage the engine and won’t power the weed eater correctly, and too little oil won’t properly lubricate the engine.
Read the owner’s manual for the ratio instructions. Many brands and models use the same ratio, but there are several different ratios out there that are commonly used.
The most common ratios are 40:1 and 50:1. I’ve seen a lot of articles online that state all string trimmers use a 40:1 ratio. That is absolutely not true! The Weed Eater brand uses 40:1 (source) but a ton of them recommend the 50:1 ratio. Check your owner’s manual and make sure you know the proper gas-to-oil ratio.
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Recommended gas-to-oil ratios for common string trimmer brands:
You can buy special 2-stroke oil that is designed for both 40:1 and 50:1 ratios. You should always write the date opened on the oil container. Two-stroke oil has a limited shelf life and it’s easy for it to get lost on a shelf in the garage for a few years without you realizing how much time has passed.
If you prefer the route of convenience, Home Depot sells a 6-pack of pre-mixed fuel. It’s made with ethanol-free gasoline, and the oil is already mixed in, so you don’t have to do any guessing work about ethanol percentages or oil to gas ratios.
If you aren’t sure about which brand of premixed fuel to get, see my side-by-side comparison of four popular premix products.
And one more thing: you might also see a 20:1 recommended ratio on some products. Check the owner’s manual to make sure you know which ratio your weed eater requires.
How to Mix the Fuel
Mixing the fuel is a simple process that shouldn’t take too much of your time. The hardest part is knowing what ratio of oil to gas you need and making sure you have no more than 10% ethanol in your fuel.
I’ll explain the basics below but first here’s an excellent instruction and demonstration video from Remington Power Tools. The video is just 1 minute long but they hit all the key points:
Now, for the short and simple of it, here’s a couple of fundamental principles that I followed before I moved to premixed fuel. (Premix costs more on the surface but it lasts a lot longer than homemade mix does and I never have to worry that my mix is off).
All you need to mix fuel is oil, gas, and a gas can.
Add the oil to the gas can with the fuel. If you fill the gas can so that it contains exactly one gallon of gas, you can pour the proper amount of oil directly into the can.
Pour the mixed fuel into the fuel tank. You should never mix the oil and gas in the fuel tank; always mix it in the gas can. This will ensure that it gets properly mixed, and you won’t risk spilling any of it on your weed eater.
Remember: stirred, not shaken. You want to swirl the can around a little to allow the contents to mix but you don’t have to get too aggressive with it.
Properly Winterize The Engine Before Storing
Since grass doesn’t thrive in the winter months in most areas, many people store their weed eaters and other lawn care equipment away while it’s cold and won’t use them again until the spring. You should store them carefully in a specific manner because leaving leftover gas inside can cause damage to the engine. Exposure to moisture can also cause damage.
Gasoline will begin to expire after 30 days or so, which will result in oxidation. Oxidation will cause several issues such as sticky varnishes that lead to over fueling and under fueling, clogs throughout the fuel system, corroded parts in the fuel system, and reduced fuel economy due to the fuel thickening (source).
Any of these issues will result in lower quality fuel, which means you won’t get the most out of your money. A lot of sources recommend actually topping off the tank for the winter to prevent condensation in the tank but I always drain the fuel since it’s going to go bad and potentially gum up the inner workings.
Note: Always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations. Below are commonly accepted practices but the manufacturer of your string trimmer is the ultimate authority on proper storing.
Storing 2-Cycle Engines
Remember that 2-cycle engines are the engines that mix oil and gasoline together, so their “hibernation” preparation needs will be slightly different than what you need to do for a 4-cycle weed eater.
For this we are going to need a small amount of fuel. Just enough to get it started and run for a few minutes.
You will need gasoline and oil that’s approved for your model of weed eater, a couple of gas cans, a wrench, and maybe a towel.
Begin by cleaning off debris. Use a towel to wipe off any dirt or grass that was left behind on your weed eater. For hard to clean areas, you can scrub it with a toothbrush. Otherwise, a clean shop towel should be sufficient to remove most of the debris.
Empty the fuel tank of any existing fuel by letting the engine run until the tank is empty or by pouring the gas out into a gas can. You need to handle gas in a safe manner since it’s highly flammable, so you should only use a gas can. Any other container isn’t recommended.
Note: If you do pour the gas into another container, you still need to start the engine and let it burn off any fuel left in the carburetor.
Mix gas and oil together in a gas can to run through the weed eater. You should use appropriate gas and oil, as previously discussed in a ratio that’s suitable for your weed eater.
Use the same ratio as you normally would for your weed eater. Since you only need a small amount of gas and oil for this part, you might need to use a ratio calculator to find out how much oil you need to use.
Add fuel stabilizer to the gas and oil. You only need a small amount. This will be discussed further in another section.
Shake the fuel to mix it and then pour it into the fuel tank. Place the gas cap on securely.
Let the engine run until it runs out of gas. This will allow the fuel stabilizer to run through the entire system. The engine should stop when it runs out of gas.
Try to start the engine a few times. It won’t be able to run, but this will ensure that all of the gas and oil have burned, and the fuel tank is completely empty.
Remove the spark plug with a wrench. You can discard it and replace it in the spring, or you can add motor oil in the hole to lubricate it. If you use motor oil, you only need a few drops, and then you can return the spark plug back to its place.
Store the weed eater in a dry place indoors. You don’t want it to be near any kind of moisture.
Storing 4-Cycle Engines
The steps for preparing 4-cycle weed eaters for storage are different because the oil and gas are kept in separate compartments. Gasoline can expire, so you will have to remove that. It’s not absolutely necessary that you remove the oil, but you should consult the owner’s manual because the manufacturer might recommend removing the oil, as well.
You will need the same materials as before: oil, gas, a wrench, gas cans, and a towel.
Remove debris from the weed eater.
Empty the gas tank into a gas can and add fuel stabilizer. Since the gas is kept separate from the oil, you can add the fuel stabilizer directly to it. Use fresh gas if the gas from the weed eater contains any kind of debris.
Let the engine run for 10-12 minutes. This will allow the stabilizer to completely run through the fuel system.
Turn off the engine and wait 20 minutes. The stabilizer needs time to dissolve ethanol residue that may have been stuck inside the engine.
Empty the fuel bowl. Your 4-cycle weed eater should have a drain plug so you can empty the fuel bowl. If it doesn’t, you will have to remove the bowl completely so you can empty it.
Store the weed eater in a dry place indoors. Again, you don’t want any moisture to damage the engine.
Things You Should Avoid
Never leave gasoline in the fuel tank for extended periods of time. Ethanol can cause damage to engines over time, so if fuel sits untouched, it can speed up the process. If any debris is left behind in the gasoline, it might grow mold and clog up the system.
Gasoline can also cause issues because of oxidation. After 30 days, the gasoline will begin to go bad and will damage the engine. It can cause corrosion, gunk, and can affect the quality of the fuel you put into it.
Never store the weed eater near moisture. Moisture can ruin engines, especially if you accidentally leave a little fuel behind in the weed eater. If any moisture is left on the engine or gets into the weed eater, you may find your machine not working in the spring.
Don’t guess the oil and gas ratio. Even though you are only using a small amount in the 2-cycle weed eater, you still need to measure it out. As mentioned before, too little or too much oil will cause damage to the engine. Take the time to be precise.
Use A Fuel Stabilizer
Fuel stabilizer prevents fuel from going bad. The stabilizer bonds with the gas to prevent oxidation and evaporation. It’s usually made with petroleum, so it will help repel water.
Fuel begins to expire after about 30 days unless it’s been kept in an airtight container. Fuel left in your weed eater isn’t airtight since the engine and fuel tank are vented. Besides, the gas has been exposed to air so the degradation process has already started.
Running gasoline through your weed eater with a little bit of stabilizer will allow the stabilizer to coat the system and prevent any leftover gasoline from oxidizing.
Fuel stabilizer is meant to be left in with the fuel, but you should not leave any fuel inside your weed eater during the winter. If you have any doubts, consult the owner’s manual for your weed eater.
Caring for your weed eater is a fairly simple task as long as you’ve read up on the subject beforehand. There are many do’s and don’ts that you need to remember so you don’t make any mistakes or get in trouble with the law.
Remember that E15 (or higher) gasoline is illegal to use in outdoor equipment, including weed eaters, lawnmowers, and even motorboats.
Don’t wave this off because it can cause serious damage to your equipment. Many small engines simply aren’t made to function with large amounts of ethanol. Yes, it’s illegal, but it will also damage your engine beyond repair in some instances.
Read up about your weed eater before you go out to buy gasoline and oil. 2-cycle engines require specific ratios of gasoline to oil, so you need to make sure you know which ratio you require.
Know which gas station carries the right fuel. It’s becoming more common for gas stations to carry E15 or higher. Pay attention or skip the pump entirely and buy ethanol-free fuel.
Do not estimate ratio measurements. Too little or too much oil can damage the weed eater.
Store your weed eater properly during the winter. Harsh conditions and exposure to moisture can cause damage.
Use a fuel stabilizer when preparing it for winter. This will prolong its lifespan and make it ready for use in the spring.
Articles You May Be Interested In:
Can You Use Ethanol-Free Gas in a Weed Eater? Know The Facts
Adding Fuel Stabilizer To Ethanol-Free Gas: Is It Needed?
Does Ethanol-Free Gas Go Bad? Fuel Shelf Life Comparisons
Fuel/Gas Mix Ratio for a Weedeater
The two-cycle gas engines used on many string-type weed trimmers require a mixture of gasoline and oil to keep the crankshaft and piston lubricated. Efficient operation requires the correct mix of gas to oil. Too much oil can foul the engine but too little will greatly shorten engine life because of insufficient lubrication. The correct fuel/oil ratio varies from one manufacturer to the next.
Weed Eater Brand
All Weed Eater brand two-cycle gas trimmers use a 40:1 ratio of gas to oil. That’s equal to 3.2 ounces of oil to 1 gallon of regular gas. The gas should be 87 octane with no more than 10 percent alcohol. The oil must be formulated for two-cycle engines. Don’t use automobile motor oil because it contains noncombustible additives that will foul the engine.
Other brands may use different ratios of gas to oil . For example, Echo trimmers run on a 50:1 ratio, equal to 2.6 ounces of oil per gallon of gas. Often the machine will have its fuel/oil ratio stamped on the gas cap or fuel tank, or printed in the owner’s manual.
Herb Kirchhoff has more than three decades of hands-on experience as an avid garden hobbyist and home handyman. Since retiring from the news business in 2008, Kirchhoff takes care of a 12-acre rural Michigan lakefront property and applies his experience to his vegetable and flower gardens and home repair and renovation projects.
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