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Troubleshooting Lawn Equipment Engines After Winter Storage

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 17, 2012

It is almost time for spring, and many of you are checking out your lawn equipment, eager to use it once again.Unfortunately, many homeowners find that after winter storage, lawn care equipment has some engine problems. Here is a list of common problems and most of the possible causes.

1.  Engine won't start or is hard to start.

Possible causes:

  • Fuel tank is empty or shutoff valve is closed, or fuel line is clogged.
  • There is water in the fuel.
  • Carburetor is over choked.
  • Carburetor is adjusted wrong or needs service.
  • Ignition system or its wiring is defective or ignition switch is off.
  • Deadman or other cutoff switch is open or defective.
  • Spark plug is damaged.
  • Engine compression is poor.
  • Operator needs to read user manual.

2. Engine starts and dies after a few seconds.

Possible causes:

  • Fuel tank is empty or shutoff valve is closed, or fuel line is clogged.
  • Carburetor is over choked.
  • Carburetor is adjusted wrong or needs service.

  3. Engine idles roughly or surges.

Possible causes:

  • Carburetor is dirty.
  • Air leak in carburetor or intake manifold.
  • Carburetor is adjusted wrong or needs service.

  4. Engine vibrates a lot.

Possible causes:

  • Engine is not mounted securely.
  • Blade is unbalanced.
  • Crankshaft is bent.
  • Counterbalance shaft is not timed correctly.

  5. Engine doesn't have much power or lacks power after warm-up.

Possible causes:

  • Old gas, bad spark plug, very thick/dirty oil.
  • Choke is partially closed.
  • Carburetor needs adjustment or service.
  • Ignition not timed correctly.
  • Air filter is clogged.
  • Lack of engine lubrication.
  • Valves are not sealing properly.
  • Piston rings are not sealing properly.
  • Head loose or head gasket is blown or damaged.
  • Exhaust ports on a 2 stroke are blocked.

While this blog lists many problems, it is does not cover everything that can go wrong. We’ll talk about some more issues next week.  If your problems are not listed here, or you can’t fix your lawn equipment, contact J&J Small Engine Clinic, we can help.

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