Embarrassing? Yes. However, forgetting to confirm whether there’s gas in the tank is actually a very common oversight, perhaps on account of its simplicity. The resolution for this particular issue should be fairly straight forward: check your mower’s fuel level, every time, before starting it up.
On a related note, gasoline has a shorter shelf life than you may realize. Stale, untreated gas is one of the most common types of fuel problems as it begins to break down after about a month. If left in the tank long enough, old, stale fuel will eventually lead to engine damage.
If the gas in your mower’s tank is older than 30 days, you’ll need to empty the tank and refill it with fresh fuel. Depending on the equipment, it may be possible to tip the mower and drain the tank. If not, the fuel will need to be siphoned out. Stale fuel is highly noxious, so always work in a well-ventilated area. Once the stale fuel has been removed, replace it with fresh fuel and fuel stabilizer.
PRO TIP: Always add fuel stabilizer to fresh fuel, since it slows the buildup in carburetors. Using a quality gasoline stabilizer allows better fuel flow and can help to prevent many of the problems with a mower that won’t start. Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment Gasoline Stabilizer, for example, helps to prevent the lighter hydrocarbons from evaporating – this reduces gum and varnish and keeps the fuel flowing. It also offers additional protection by containing corrosion inhibitors. This will keep gasoline fresh for up to a year.
This is one of the countless lessons for understanding the importance of routine maintenance: neglected mower maintenance will always lead to future headaches.
On that note, get into the habit of always draining the fuel at the end of the mowing season. You’ll thank yourself when next year comes around.
NOTE: Ethanol fuel can cause serious issues with your mower’s carburetor, fuel line, and fuel filter. Ethanol that has absorbed enough moisture and has sat long enough can foul the fuel system and prevent the engine from starting. It eats the inner lining of the fuel line, which carries the debris through the fuel filter and into the carburetor. Using a fuel stabilizer formulated to combat ethanol or selecting non-ethanol at the pump can help. However, the first few gallons from the pump may contain ethanol. For that reason, we recommend filling your car before filling the gas can.