BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – If you are using the same unleaded regular gas in your lawn mower you are pumping into your car, you could be doing serious damage; and some unleaded gas with higher ethanol content could actually destroy your lawn equipment.

That is the advice of experts, like Sal Julian, a small engine technician at the Hector’s Hardware on Maple Rd. in Amherst. Julian said, it is the ethanol blended into the gas that can cause problems, “The water starts to form in the ethanol, almost immediately.”

Julian says the damage from ethanol occurs gradually, over years of usage, affecting the fuel line, carburetor, gaskets and seals.

“They crack, they dry out, they start leaking, and the seals inside the carburetors–there are O-rings in the nozzles–they harden up and then you’ve got to change them.”

Ethanol is a corn-based additive to extend the supply of gasoline, but it burns hotter and faster. Most gas contains 10% ethanol, and most cars are designed to run on unleaded regular. But Julian believes the higher the octane the better, for your lawn mower, and using gas that is ethanol-free is best.

“I found that it burns cleaner, it burns better; less problems with the carburetor and starting issues with the lawn mower.”

But you won’t find that kind of guidance in the owners manuals. Manufacturers tell users unleaded regular and 10% ethanol is “acceptable”, but they don’t recommended it. They also don’t advise owners that ethanol-free gas might lead to better performance.

However, manufacturers do support a public service campaign from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), a trade group, called “Look Before You Pump”. It advises lawn mower owners to go for the higher octane and lower ethanol content.

Videos narrated by OPEI President Kris Kiser warn mower owners, of the dangers posed by some ethanol blended fuels.

Kiser says, “higher ethanol gas blends, like E15, E30, and E85 may be available at a local station–and they may be cheaper–but it is harmful and illegal to use in outdoor power equipment. It could damage or destroy it.” Use of the souped up ethanol could also void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Tim Murphy of Williamsville made the switch to ethanol-free gas for his lawn mowing equipment about 5 years ago and noticed the difference in performance immediately. Murphy has stuck with the higher octane gasoline, even though he is paying 58 cents more a gallon.

“It is more expensive, but I feel better, I sleep better at night, knowing my stuff is going to work.”

Sal Julian points out, if your gas does contain ethanol, it will start to go bad after 30 days, so Julian advises the next time you gas up, you should only buy the amount of fuel you will need for the next 30 days. If you store your gas for more than 30 days, Julian said you should add a stabilizer to dry the gas out.