Questions & Answers
with Steve Burns, Chairman and Director of R&D - VP Racing Fuels
- As a race fuel company, are you equipped to take on the small engine market?
Yes, absolutely. Engineering and production of fuels for specialized racing engines is what VP has done successfully for over 30 years. Small engines are, in fact, very sophisticated engines, with a power to size ratio similar to that of a large displacement racing engine. Small engines are also air cooled, which makes them harder to maintain. And the problems caused by ethanol are magnified in small engines precisely because of the small size of the fuel system components which can be compromised so much more quickly. It takes sophisticated technology to effectively address these problems and our extensive background in designing fuels for some of the most intricate racing engines in the world makes us just that much more prepared.
- I've never had any problems with my small engine–why do I need this fuel?
You're one of the lucky few, and it's very possible that luck will run out as the EPA continues to increase the amount of ethanol allowed in pump gas. VP Small Engine Fuels will slightly increase power, but that's only a small benefit of VP-SEF. You'll benefit from easier starting, worry-free long-term storage and in the case of the VP-SEF Pre-Mix versions for 2-cycles, better lubrication performance. It's highly unlikely you have used an oil as good as the oil in VP-SEF Pre-Mix.
- Aren't gas-powered tools designed to run on street gas? Why do I need a special fuel?
Yes they were designed for street gas, because prior to our introduction of VP Small Engine Fuels, the only fuel available to the engine designers was street gas. But think about it—street gas is designed to conform to the lowest standards possible. The lowest CHEAPEST possible formula that passes the government standards is what they make. Why? Because street gas is sold almost exclusively on price. The cheapest price. But at the same time, the competition between small engine manufacturers leads them to make better, more powerful engines. And better, lighter engines demand more and more from fuels, even while the street gas they're designed to use is getting worse for these small engines. Even while newer production engines are being set up to run on street gas with 10% ethanol, the engines aren't being designed to resist the harmful effects of ethanol, i.e. gumming and corrosion. So why do you need a good fuel in your small engine? Scaled up, your small engine offers performance comparable to some of the best, most powerful racing engines in the world. And it's air cooled. Let me repeat that…It's AIR cooled. There has not been an air cooled racing engine in the last 25 years, because air cooled engines put very high demands on fuel and oil requirements. So what you have in your string trimmer is a high performance F1-caliber engine that's air cooled…running at RPMs only attained by world class racing engines…running on street gas that was made with the cheapest possible formula…laden with ethanol that will ultimately destroy your fuel system. And that's no way to "feed" your high performance thoroughbred.
- Isn't VP Small Engine Fuels just street gas without the ethanol? Or just street gas with oil added?
Not even close. VP Small Engine Fuels is not just ethanol-free, but specifically formulated with the highest quality components for top performance, long life and durability of your small engine. We made no concessions to cost in the development of this fuel and oil package. VP-SEF was developed to solve a problem many consumers are already facing and others will in the near future. We've taken the same approach to designing this fuel for small engines that we use for the world-class racing engines for which we provide fuel. At the VP Racing Fuels website (vpracingfuels.com) you can see the worldwide application of VP fuels in many of the world's best racing engines. That's why we built a framework using the best raw materials we could find and conducted extensive field and laboratory testing to ensure VP-SEF will work in all relevant small engine applications.
- Is VP Small Engine Fuels the same every time?
YES, absolutely. VP Small Engine Fuels is made by VP Racing Fuels, so you can be assured that every ounce goes under extensive quality control testing. VP has been blending fuels for 35 years, including fuels for sanctioning bodies like the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and American Le Mans. VP fuels supplied to these sanctions face the scrutiny of gas chromatograph examinations (the same instruments used for Olympic Drug Testing) at every race. VP-SEF is produced to the same standards.
- Why would VP Small Engine Fuels be more consistent than standard pump fuels?
There are more than 28 different fuel specifications for gasoline fuel dispensed from pumps across the U.S. These specifications vary seasonally and geographically, leading to differences in components within the fuels, whether or not a fuel is oxygenated,different ratios of ethanol in the fuels, and different octane ratings, each of which can require a different air/fuel ratio for tuning an engine. This makes it almost impossible for the small engine manufacturers to accurately tune an engine at the factory. VP Small Engine Fuels is made exactly the same every time and is designed to give good throttle response along with a wide tuning window.
- Why should I pick VP Small Engine Fuels over other Pre-Mixed fuels?
What other companies are selling is pure convenience. It's just a standard pump fuel mostly without ethanol and using an oil that meets minimal standards. We're selling a fuel that is blended and designed for high performance in small engines without concession to cost. If you own a piece of gas-powered light equipment, then essentially you possess a small, high-performance engine. The only difference is that you have an air-cooled engine, not one that is liquid-cooled like race engines. In simple terms, that means you must protect your investment that is very vulnerable to heat and deposits. An excellent way to do that is by using quality fluids, including fuel.
- Can I be sure the VP Small Engine Fuels meets the manufacturer's specifications for my equipment?
You can be 100% confident that VP Small Engine Fuels will meet or exceed your manufacturer's specifications. The Pre-Mix versions of VP-SEF for 2-cycle equipment—both 40:1 and 50:1—contain a top quality synthetic oil that exceeds API TC, ISO-L-EGD and JASO FD lubrication standards. Both the 2-cycle and VP-SEF 4-cycle versions include the highest quality components available, such that our fuel will burn cleaner and with fewer harmful emissions than any gasoline available at the pump. Note that VP-SEF 4-cycle fuel can also be used in 2-cycle engines when mixed with an oil to your manufacturer's specifications.
- How can I justify the high cost of VP Small Engine Fuels when street gas is so much cheaper?
How much do you value your time? Your cost may be lower in the short term with ethanol-laden street gas, but over the long run, you'll pay more for repairing or rebuilding the degraded fuel system in your small engine. Depending on the tool, repairs can easily run $75-$150, or in some cases the cost of a whole new piece of equipment when yours can't be saved. Not to mention the cost of downtime while your equipment is being repaired, along with the aggravation and stress. Paying a few dollars more for VP-SEF can help prevent those long-term costs and the frustration that comes with them. Plus, the Pre-Mixed versions of VP-SEF save you the time and hassle of measuring, mixing, extra trips to the store for 2-cycle oil and the risk of getting the mix ratio wrong.
- Do I have to shake the Pre-Mixed VP Small Engine Fuels before I pour it in?
There is no need to shake Pre-Mixed VP Small Engine Fuels prior to pouring.
- My generator and mower use larger volumes of fuel – do you have container sizes larger than quarts?
For generators and other equipment that use a greater volume of fuel, VP Small Engine Fuels can be purchased in 5-gallon pails, as well as 30- and 54-gallon drums. These can be especially convenient for commercial users of light equipment.
- Fuel stabilizers are cheaper than VP Small Engine Fuels – why shouldn't I just use them instead?
You can try, but there is a strong possibility of failure. Before VP Small Engine Fuels was developed, our goal was to come up with a fuel additive to solve ethanol-related problems in the cheapest possible way. We couldn't find the answer nor have we seen anyone else pull it off. There are too many issues to solve with an additive and in the end, an additive cannot fix all the problems caused by ethanol and its negative impact on the fuel systems of small engines. The only truly effective way to address the issues is to remove ethanol from the equation entirely, as we did with VP-SEF. Bear in mind, though, the qualities of VP-SEF go far beyond a gasoline without ethanol in it.
- Do I need a fuel that is 94 octane?
Most small engines are designed to run on 87 - 92 octane fuels. However, the higher octane can help when engines are running hotter than they should. Elevated engine temps will require higher-octane fuel to prevent pre-ignition and detonation. Pre-ignition and detonation can be devastating to small engines. Example: If the needle valve on your carburetor is not adjusted properly the engine may be running lean, which could raise your engine’s operating temperatures. The engine may seem like it’s running and performing well, but the added heat is a drawback, which will create a demand for extra octane. This can occur with the changing of seasons as air density is fluctuating. If you’re not readjusting the engine’s carburetor accordingly, it’s likely that your engine will be running in a lean condition. Higher octane can assist air-cooled engines in cooling, even if dirt and build-up have formed on the engine head.
- I've read not to use high-octane fuels in these engines—why is that?
In some cases, that's a true statement. BUT…if the high-octane fuel has been designed properly (such as VP Small Engine Fuels, to which VP Racing Fuels can attest), it can actually allow small engines to have better ignition, vaporization, and cooling capabilities than street gas or lower octane fuels.
- How does VP Small Engine Fuels lower engine-operating temperatures?
VP Small Engine Fuels vaporizes better and burns more "efficiently" than other fuels, which results in lower exhaust temperatures and thus, lower engine temperatures. In addition, a properly designed fuel like VP-SEF can make more power, burn cleaner and extend engine life. The cost of running VP-SEF through your light equipment is a small one to pay for these benefits in performance.
- My manufacturer's requirements consist of using a 50:1 gasoline-to-oil ratio, but I've had friends tell me that a 40:1 ratio is safer. Is that true?
In certain instances that could be true, but rarely have we seen that be the case. For the most part, follow your manufacturers specifications.
- What kind of oil do you use in VP Small Engine Fuels 50:1 and 40:1?
Currently, we use the highest quality synthetic oil on the market, which exceeds API TC and JASO FD and ISO-L-EGD lubrication standards. However, at VP we continually look to improve our fuels and oils. In racing you have to get better every race.
- What are the features and benefits of the oil used in VP Small Engine Fuels Pre-Mix??
The oil is extremely clean burning but does not sacrifice film strength or extreme pressure qualities just to be a clean oil. Oil is usually a compromise of qualities over cost. In our case, nothing has been sacrificed to save a buck. Sure, it will create a product with a premium price, but the added value exists in the quality of the product. It's relative.
- Is VP Small Engine Fuels the best possible product I can choose for my small engine?
Definitively yes. Its components are the highest quality available, making it the most cost-effective protection you can buy for your equipment investments.
- How long will this fuel last in storage?
VP Small Engine Fuel will remain stable more than two years when kept in its original sealed container. Even after pulling some of the fuel out, you’re looking at about a two-year life as long as you properly re-seal your container. The VP-SEF container was designed with an enclosure that will properly seal and allow no venting.
- How long will it last in my small engine's tank?
VP Small Engine Fuel can be left in a fuel tank through the off-season and beyond, making it an excellent “winterizing” fuel to ensure easy start-ups in the spring (or winter start-ups for snowblowers and the like). The ultimate life of fuel in the tank depends on how vented the tank is and the conditions in which it's stored, i.e., extreme vs. moderate temperatures.
- I had to change my spark plug after running VP Small Engine Fuels. The plug was fouled—why did this happen?
This is a very unusual occurrence. VP Small Engine Fuels will burn extremely clean, but if the engine isn't tuned properly then no matter what gas you use, it will run excessively rich and be more prone to foul plugs. Technically, VP-SEF should improve this situation once tuning occurs. VP-SEF will be the cleanest running fuel you have ever used.
- What's the difference between the VP Small Engine Fuels 4-Cycle, 50:1, and 40:1 blends?
The VP Small Engine Fuels 4-cycle fuel is the same as 50:1 or 40:1, but without the oil. The difference between 50:1 and 40:1 is simply the ratio of gasoline to oil mixed in the blend.
- Do any of the VP Small Engine Fuels products contain lead?
NO, there wouldn't be any benefit to using lead in this fuel blend.
- Are there any oxygenates in VP Small Engine Fuels?
No oxygenates are used in VP Small Engine Fuels. It is a straight hydrocarbon fuel.
- Can I ship VP Small Engine Fuels to my customers?
Yes. Cases of VP Small Engine Fuels quarts are classified as Consumer ORM-D and may be shipped with no HAZMAT charges. VP-SEF in 5-gallon pails and larger containers is classified as UN3295, Flammable Liquid, Class 3.
- As a race fuel company, are you equipped to take on the small engine market?