How To Store Engines For Long Periods Of Time

As we head into winter, it’s time to get ready for the cold months ahead and pack up your landscaping equipment.

Before you toss your unit in the garage, make sure your engine is stored properly and prepared to start in the spring.  Small, two-stroke engines that are used on equipment such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers, backpack sprayers and foggers require proper care and maintenance. 

Since most gasoline contains around 10% ethanol, sitting for too long can damage the engine’s fuel system. 

Storing your small engine for the winter? Follow these steps to keep it in the best shape for spring: 

Prepping Your Two-Stroke Engine For Storage 

  1. Empty the fuel tank. You can do this by pouring out the gas into a gas can, or letting the engine run dry. 

  2. Using a clean, empty gas can, mix the proper gas-to-oil ratio. You will need just enough to run the engine for 3-4 minutes. 

  3. Add a small amount of fuel stabilizer. 

  4. Place the lid on the gas can and shake well for a few seconds. 

  5. Pour the fuel mix into the gas tank. 

  6. Move outdoors and start the engine. Let it run until all the gas is used. 

  7. Pull the recoil starter 3-4 times to burn off the last bit of fuel 

  8. With a ratchet wrench and spark plug socket, remove the spark plug and store away your equipment in a dry area indoors. 

Prepping Your Four-Stroke Engine For Storage 

  1. Empty the fuel tank. You can do this by pouring out the gas into a gas can, or letting the engine run dry. 

  2. Pour a few ounces of premium high-test gasoline with a few ounces of fuel stabilizer. 

  3. Start the engine and let it run for 10-12 minutes. This will ensure the stabilizer flows through the entire fuel system. 

  4. Shut off the engine and wait 20 minutes to allow the stabilizer time to dissolve any ethanol residue left inside the engine and fuel line. 

  5. Move outdoors and start the engine. Let it run until all the gas is used. 

  6. Although the fuel is empty at this point, there may be some leftover in the carburetor’s fuel bowl. 

  7. Access the drain plug on the bowl, and let the remainder of the fuel drain by twisting open the plug. 

  8. Store your equipment in a dry area indoors. 

Getting Your Engine Ready After Storage 

When winter comes to an end and it's time to take out your equipment again, follow these tips to have it start up and run smoothly: 

Refuel With Fresh Gas

Always use fresh gasoline for your engine. Do not use gasoline that is over a month old, as it can clog fuel lines, the carburetor, and in turn prevent the engine from starting. 

Change The Oil 

As one of the most essential elements to the engine, make sure that you are using clean oil. Dirty or low oil will shorten the engine’s lifespan and decrease its quality. Check the oil levels each time before running. 

Inspect The Fuel Filter 

Make sure the fuel filter is clean, as it contributes to straining unknown particles from the gas. Replace the fuel filter at least once a year. 

Replace The Air Filter 

Gas-powered equipment often kicks up a lot of dust and dirt, which can potentially get sucked into the engine’s combustion chamber. This causes poor fuel efficiency, poor starting and running, and a shortened engine lifespan. Each spring, install a new air filter to avoid these issues. 

Check The Spark Plugs 

Before starting the engine, remove and inspect the spark plugs to make sure they are not worn down, dirty, or damaged. Pull the hooded electrical cable off the spark plug, then use a small brush to clean the area around the spark plug to prevent any accumulated gunk from falling down into the engine. Remove the spark plug and check it carefully to make sure the white porcelain isn’t cracked or that the tip of the electrode at the base of the plug hasn’t burned away. Discard the spark plug if you see any damage and replace it with a new one. 

Grease The Mechanical Joints 

Poorly lubricated joints and parts on your engine will wear out and stop functioning. Grease up each area to ensure they keep running smoothly. 

Charge The Battery (If Applicable) 

If your equipment happens to have a battery, it will lose power after sitting in storage for months at a time. If your battery does not recharge, replace it with a new one. 

In order to have a long-lasting unit, it’s important to take great care of your gas-powered equipment. With a few simple extra steps, you can avoid many problems in the future. 



Two-Stroke Engines: Two-stroke engines are internal combustion engines that complete a power cycle with two strokes of the piston during only one crankshaft revolution. This type involves the completion of combustion and exhaust followed directly by compression and ignition, which makes them more lightweight and simpler than four-stroke engines. A mixture of oil and fuel is necessary for lubrication, which can lead to higher emissions.

Four-Stroke Engines: Four-stroke engines, in contrast, use four piston strokes to complete a single power cycle: intake, compression, power, and exhaust. This type of engine is more common in cars, motorcycles, and other heavy-duty applications due to its efficiency and fuel economy. It separates the oil and fuel supply, which helps in reducing emissions compared to two-stroke engines.

Fuel Stabilizer: A chemical added to fuel to prevent oxidation and degradation during storage.

Ethanol: A common component in gasoline that can absorb moisture and damage engine components over time.

Carburetor: A device in an engine that mixes air with fuel for internal combustion.

Spark Plug: An electrical device that fits into the cylinder head of an internal combustion engine and ignites the fuel.

Two-Stroke and Four-Stroke Engines: Types of internal combustion engines, which differ in their operation and the mixing of oil and fuel.

Drain Plug: A plug used to drain fluid from the engine or other systems.

Recoil Starter: A method of starting small engines, typically involving a pull-start mechanism.

Air Filter: A component that removes particles from the air entering the engine, ensuring clean combustion.

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