When you have a carpet of leaves to clear from your yard, a good leaf blower vacuum can be one of the most useful tools you can own. Compared to clearing the leaves manually with a rake, using a leaf blower will save you a lot of time and effort.
Unfortunately, leaf blowers are also a lot more expensive than a good old-fashioned rake, and they also require proper care and maintenance. If you have a gas leaf blower, one of the most important parts of this is ensuring it has the oil necessary to run properly – so here, we discuss everything you need to know about oil for leaf blowers.
2-stroke or 4-stroke leaf blowers
If you have a cordless leaf blower that is powered by battery or a corded one that plugs into a power outlet, you don’t need to worry about oil – but even if you have a gas-powered model, you need to understand that not all leaf blowers work in the same way.
Specifically, you need to know if you have a 4 cycle leaf blower (also known as a 4-stroke leaf blower) or a 2-cycle (also referred to as 2-stroke) version.
Although we don’t need to go deep into the mechanics of how the two types of engine work, it’s worth reminding ourselves briefly of the differences.
Most gas-powered leaf blowers are 2-stroke versions. That is because 2-stroke engines are smaller, lighter, less complicated (and so less expensive) and provide more power than 4-stroke versions.
The main difference we are interested in here, however, is the fact that in a 4-stroke engine, the gasoline and the oil are stored separately and are mixed in the engine as it runs.
In a 2-stroke version, there is no separate reservoir for the oil, and oil needs to be mixed into the gas to lubricate the engine and keep it running smoothly.
In fact, if you try to run a 2-stroke engine on pure gas with no oil, you will cause catastrophic damage to the engine within minutes. It will quickly break down completely and you will be looking at a trip to the garden center to buy yourself a new tool.
Mixing gas and oil in a 2-cycle engine
So, as you can see, if you have a 2-cycle leaf blower, you must ensure you are using the proper gas and oil mix as fuel.
In general, the ratio of gas to oil is 50:1, which works out at 2½oz of oil to a gallon of gas. However, not all leaf blowers require the same ratio of gas to oil, and some require a ratio of 40:1, for example – so you should check your user manual to find out the correct proportions to mix.
When mixing gas and oil for your leaf blower, take care to mix the amounts as accurately as possible. However, if you do get the amounts slightly wrong, it’s better to have a bit too much oil than not enough.
How to mix oil and gas for a 2-cycle leaf blower
If you need to mix gas and oil for your leaf blower manually, there is no special technique you need to follow. Simply measure out the required amount of gasoline into a gas can and then pour the oil in.
Once the oil and gas are in the gas can together, close the cap securely and give the can a good shake to ensure they are well mixed – and that’s it! You can now pour the mixture into your leaf blower and start it up normally.
Adding oil to 4-cycle leaf blowers
Leaf blowers with 4-stroke engines are heavier, more expensive and, since they are more complicated, have more parts that can break down. However, they are also more efficient, less noisy – and since you don’t need to mix the gas and oil manually, slightly easier to use.
If you have one of these, you simply need to make sure the oil in the oil reservoir remains topped up. If you let the oil run dry, you will end up damaging your leaf blower in the same way as if you tried to use pure gas in a 2-stroke model.
To check, remove the dipstick, wipe it clean with a cloth, put it back in again and pull it out once more. You will see the oil level on the dipstick – it should be between the minimum and maximum mark – although it’s better to be closer to the maximum than the minimum.
The best way to ensure the oil always stays topped up is to get into the habit of checking it every time you refill your leaf blower with gas. It only takes a few seconds to do, and this way, you will never forget to check it.
General tips for gas-powered leaf blowers
Here are a couple of extra tips related to gas and oil that will ensure your leaf blower stays in good working condition.
- Shake if not used for a while
If you haven’t used your 2-stroke leaf blower for a few weeks, the oil and gas mix will have begun to separate. To remedy this, you just need to give the unit a good shake before you switch it on to mix them up again.
- Replace old fuel
Gasoline doesn’t age well, and after about 30 days it will go bad. If you are planning to put your machine away for long-term storage, you should drain it or burn off the fuel before packing it away at the end of the season.
If you forget to do this, you will need to drain off the old fuel and refill it with fresh fuel at the start of the following season before you can use it again.
- Buy premixed oil and gas
If you want to save yourself the hassle of mixing oil and gas yourself, you can always buy a premixed fuel. Make sure you buy a mix with the correct ratio of gas and oil for your blower.
Don’t forget to add oil!
So, as we have seen, whether you have a 2-stroke leaf blower or a less common 4-stroke version, adding oil is essential if you want your tool to continue working correctly. If you forget to add oil, you will quickly damage your engine and will probably have to buy a whole new leaf blower.
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My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.