I was wondering why the rental center I rent from is such a stickler about using their gas when I rent gas-powered equipment. So I asked Ted, who runs the counter Johnson Creek Rentals, one of our OpenRental partners, and here's what I found . . .
First, Ted said he'd rather not be in the gas business at all -- the main reason they sell gas is to protect their equipment, because old gas or the wrong mix of gas can damage equipment beyond repair.
So lets talk about gas! Once you get past diesel, there basically are two types of gas that go into rental equipment -- "regular" gas like you put in your car, and mixed gas, which is a combination of "regular" gas an an oil additive.
Sounds simple enough, except different pieces of equipment require different ratios of oil to gas. And if you get it wrong, it can lock up the engine.
Let's take a look at mixed gas, which goes into two-cycle engines that run things like a mantis tiller or weedwhacker. But it's not that simple -- different engines burn different mixes of fuel and oil, from a ratio of 32 parts gas to oil, to 50 parts gas to oil. At best if the mix is wrong, the machine sputters and coughs.
At worst, if poorly mixed or "regular" gas goes into a two-cycle engine, it can rapidly overheat, and literally within minutes melt into a single solid piece of metal. Yikes! Not a good thing!
Even the lightest piece of gas-powered rental equipment can cost a couple hundred bucks to replace, and Ted added that charging customers to replace equipment usually doesn't isn't a great experience for anyone - so he goes out of his way to make sure the right gas goes into the machine. In fact, at Johnson Creek, they simply provide the mixed gas on two-cycle rentals. It's worth it to keep the engines running and customers happy.
As for "regular" gas, Ted just asks that renters don't use stale, old gas that's been in the garage since last fall. All sorts of chemical changes take place when gas sits around -- It separates into different components, moisture creeps in, and it becomes more like varnish than gasoline.
So there you are - a tale of two gasses.