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Tag Archive | "gasoline"

Labor Day wraps up cheapest summer at pump in 12 years


 

N-GasPrices-chart$18.9 billion saved 

With summer drawing to a close, motorists have enjoyed the cheapest summer at the pump since 2004, saving $18.9 billion over its duration versus last summer, a sweet note as they take to the roads to celebrate Labor Day.

“As the holiday approaches, it’s true that gasoline prices have risen across the country due in part to rumors of production cuts from OPEC which could begin to correct the balance of supply and demand, but take note—it could be just the third time in a decade prices are rising ahead of Labor Day,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “While today’s trend may lead to some frustration, gas prices are likely to soon revert, leaving behind what has been the cheapest summer at the pump in over a decade.”

According to GasBuddy analysts, gasoline prices have remained low even in light of high gasoline demand due to rampant oil production, leading supply to outpace demand for several years, causing oil inventories to bulge and depressing oil prices.

In addition, as U.S. production has increased over the last several years, oil producing countries have been fighting to win back market share. Saudi Arabia was a key player in driving oil prices down by announcing a new strategy to pump as much as they could late in 2014. The downturn accelerated when sanctions on Iran were eased, leading Iran to boost production and fight for market share against Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The U.S. national average for a gallon of gasoline is likely to close out the summer driving season having averaged $2.24 per gallon compared to 2015’s summer average of $2.70 per gallon. For Labor Day, GasBuddy expects the national average to be $2.19 per gallon, a slight decrease versus the current national average of $2.21 per gallon and far lower than prices during the early part of the decade.

Interestingly, GasBuddy data shows that since 2005, gas prices between the end of August and Labor Day have dropped seven out of ten times, with prices averaging a 2-cent decline. The largest jump was in 2005 when gas prices shot up 20 cents as Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. and oil rigs in the Gulf.

With the conclusion of Labor Day weekend comes the end of the summer driving season in the world’s largest gasoline consuming country, setting the stage for gasoline demand and prices to fall. In addition, EPA’s summer gasoline requirements end September 15 in much of the nation, opening the door for cheaper winter gasoline to return to pumps—a double whammy of downward pressure just in time for autumn—a yearly trend that’s unfazed by upcoming elections.

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Old fuel can be hard on lawn mowers


BLOOM-Old-fuel-can-be-hard-on-mowers

(BPT) – Nothing says summer like neighborhoods coming alive with the sounds of lawn mowers and the smell of fresh-cut grass. But getting the lawn mower out of the shed and running properly can be a struggle early in the season.  You turn the key and the riding lawn mower roars to life. Then the engine promptly sputters and dies. Before tearing apart the engine or calling a mechanic, look inside the gas tank.

“Every spring, we see issues with mowers caused by homeowners using gasoline left over from the year before,” says Dwight Grosz, a small engine mechanic near Bismarck, N.D. “Over time, untreated fuel begins to break down, which leads to hard starting, poor performance or an engine that won’t start at all.”

Why gasoline goes bad                                                                                          

What causes gasoline to break down? The first thing to go is gasoline’s volatility. The lightest chemicals evaporate first, leaving a heavier gasoline that doesn’t combust properly. The engine will probably still run, just not as well.

“A more serious problem is oxidization,” says Paul Herskind, a refined fuels expert at CHS, which refines and sells Cenex-brand fuels at more than 1,400 fueling locations. “When inspecting fuel that has sat unused over the winter, watch for signs that it is darker in color and smells sour. It might have small pieces of gum floating in it. These are all signs the fuel has oxidized. You don’t want that in your engine.”

Oxidization is the result of hydrocarbons in the fuel reacting with oxygen to produce new compounds, explains Herskind. This results in gum, which can clog gas lines and filters and create deposits in the fuel system. Gummed-up carburetors can be expensive to fix and may not run properly until deposits are removed.

“Finally, there’s the issue of water contamination,” adds Herskind. Water usually finds its way into fuel tanks through condensation caused by fluctuating temperatures. Water in your engine will lead to hard starting and sputtering.

How to fix it

If your mower won’t start because you’ve been using old gasoline, you’ll need to remove the old fuel and any built-up residue in the engine. Begin by referring to the owner’s manual for service procedures.

Next, siphon out the old gasoline into a container for proper disposal. Then, if the lawn mower runs for a few seconds and dies, the carburetor might be clogged or have old fuel in the float bowl.

“When the volatile ingredients in fuel evaporate, it leaves a sticky, varnish-like substance that clogs the small jets in carburetors,” says Grosz. “Once that happens, the only solution is to use a carburetor cleaner to remove varnish deposits.”

After cleaning the carburetor, add fresh fuel and a fuel stabilizer to help keep the system clean.

After treating the fuel

Grosz advises going through a quick checklist to ensure your mower’s ready for the season. Consult your owner’s manual for maintenance recommendations.

First, change the oil to remove contaminants, sludge and acids. Drain the old oil out and refill the crankcase. Grosz recommends using oil manufactured specifically for smaller engines and lawn mowers, such as Cenex 2-Cycle Oil. Consult your owner’s manual for manufacturer recommendations.

Next, replace the air filter. Last, don’t forget to sharpen the mower blade and remove any grass that’s caked to the underside of the motor deck.

How to avoid future issues

“To avoid future issues with stale fuel, try not to store gasoline in tanks or containers for more than two months,” says Herskind. “If you know gasoline will be sitting for longer than that, add a fuel stabilizer. This will help prevent oxidization.” At the end of the season, use a fuel stabilizer rather than draining the gas tank, which exposes carburetors and fuel lines to water and air.

“A quality fuel stabilizer can keep gas fresh for as long as 12 to 15 months. But the stabilizer needs to be added to new gasoline,” says Herskind. “It won’t bring stale fuel back to life.”

For more helpful information, Herskind recommends reading the blog on cenex.com. “Readers are also given an opportunity to nominate someone they know for free fuel,” adds Herskind. “It is always easier to get the lawn mower started with a fresh tank of gasoline, especially if it’s free.”

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