Not all customers think about the engines and fuels powering their equipment. They trust the engines to start and when problems arise, turn to their servicing dealer for help. Recently, there have been some changes made that could affect the customer and their equipment. This could prompt requests for more education from dealers.
With changes in emissions regulations and fuel options, there is a great deal of information to be passed along to customers. Knowing both engine and fuel options as well as how to get the best performance from an engine will be a refreshed focus.
2011 Emission Regulations
In the past few years, engine manufacturers were faced with the challenge of reducing small engine smog-forming hydrocarbon (HC) and NOx emissions by 60%. In 2011 they are forced to take it a step further with an additional 35% reduction. Engines will also need to meet a 45% reduction in fuel evaporative emissions (epa.gov).
The emission reduction will be necessary on all small non-road spark-ignition (SI) engines and equipment rated below 25 hp (19 kW). This includes lawn and garden equipment, utility vehicles, generators, and a variety of other construction, farm and industrial equipment.
It is anticipated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that manufacturers will meet the standards by improving fuel systems, engine combustion and in some cases adding catalysts.
“We will be using low-permeation fuel lines, low-permeation fuel tanks, and fuel tank vent controls to reduce evaporative emissions,” explains Dave Gardner, of Briggs & Stratton. “Exhaust emissions are addressed with reduced production variation, improved manufacturing processes, and improved combustion design.”
Changes in Engine Cost and Repairs
Changes to engine components and production processes will reportedly have only positive impacts on a Briggs & Stratton engine’s overall performance, citing a reduction in oil use, less maintenance and a more consistent performance of the engine overall.
Engine pricing will see some changes as well. “There will be cost increases. Exactly how much is model specific and depends on a number of variables,” says Gardner.
According to Gardner, the changes in exhaust repair will be transparent to the customer while evaporative repairs will require like-for-like replacement of low-permeation components.
“Evaporative components include low-permeation fuel lines and low-permeation fuel tanks if needed. If metal tanks were already used they will not have to change,” explains Gardner. “Low-permeation fuel tank options include either treated plastic tanks, engineered materials that are low permeation, or using a metal tank.”
Servicing tanks should not see much of a change, other than a possible increase in purchase price and consequently repair costs. “Low-permeation fuel lines and fuel tanks should not be much different to service, just more expensive to purchase,” says Gardner. “Costs are variable depending on the application and material used. Carbon canisters and associated vent lines are new so they are an additional item to service.”
Compliant engines will be easily identifiable by dealers and customers alike with an engine emission label stating it is from the model year 2011 or if required, a “Model Year 2011 Evaporative Emissions” label as well.
More Fuel Options
In October 2010, the EPA partially granted the Growth Energy’s waiver request application that waives the prohibition on fuel and fuel additive manufacturers on the introduction of gasoline containing greater than 10% ethanol (E-10) and no more than 15% ethanol (E-15) for use in certain motor vehicles.
While there are some procedures that still need to be followed before the E-15 is available, once it is eventually found at the pumps, handles should have warning labels advising the consumer of the higher ethanol blend. Once the higher blends of ethanol fuel become available, it is important that dealers educate their customers about what fuel types are appropriate for use in their equipment.