Walk-behind mowers and blowers
Because they're in storage over the summer, snow blowers are particularly prone to problems because of heat buildup in a shed. But walk-behind mowers, portable generators, and pressure washers are no less trouble-free if you leave unstabilized gasoline in the tank over long periods. At the very least, add stabilizer to all gas. For a portable generator, start it up once a month and run it for five minutes. For mowers, consider using ethanol-free gas for the first and last fuel-ups of the season. And before storing a pressure washer, run some ethanol-free gas through it. The gas isn't cheap, but it’s kind to your gear. Get it at a marina (roughly $8 to $10 a gallon) or in quart cans at dealers, Sears, and home centers (about $6 per quart). For the most protection over months of inactivity, run your gear dry and, once it cools, drain the carburetor bowl.
Gas-powered string trimmers, leaf blowers, chain saws, and other handhelds are the most vulnerable machines since their fuel systems are especially small. Their mostly two-stroke engines get some stabilizer from the oil you mix with the gas, but consider using only ethanol-free fuel, which helps your equipment start more easily. If you find this too costly, use stabilized gas and start your gear up once every few weeks.
Do you keep a gas can loaded with extra fuel? In addition to mixing in fuel stabilizer when you first buy it, consider keeping a record of how old it is. Gasoline sold in the warmer months has more additives and can be more finicky in an engine than what you buy over the winter. And over months of storage, it loses effectiveness. Start each season with a fresh supply.
To replace a mower, generator, string trimmer, leaf blower, snow blower, or chain saw that’s given up the ghost, see our buying guides before reviewing our Ratings and recommendations.
—Ed Perratore (on Twitter, @EdPerratore)