6 DIY Small Engine Repair Tips

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Do you like working with your hands? Perhaps you’re interested in how a small engine works or you just want to save some cash instead of paying for repair services?

If this is the case, taking on a do-it-yourself project is beneficial for keeping your small engines running; although, pinpointing the problem is sometimes the biggest issue. Let’s take a look at some small engine repair tips that’ll help it run smoother so a small project doesn’t turn into a big ordeal.

Check Your Gas Tank


Image via Flickr by Dale Basler

Oftentimes when a small engine won’t start, you don’t have to take it apart to really get at the issue. If your equipment has sat unused for several months, the problem might only lie as deep as the gas tank.

Today’s gasoline doesn’t last long; the ethanol that’s mixed in with the fuel has a short life-span and without it, your engine won’t run. So if your equipment has sat in your garage over the winter, all you might need is a good fuel stabilizer treatment.

To avoid this issue, drain your fuel before you put your equipment away for the winter.

Test the Air Filter

If your engine is not getting enough air, your issue may lie within the air filter. Luckily there’s one quick and easy way to test if the air filter is the issue.

Simply remove the air filter and start your engine. Be sure that there aren’t any objects near the carburetor that could get sucked in and ruin the engine. If it starts, you know that the air filter is contaminated and is blocking air flow. Make sure you don’t leave the engine running when performing this test. Shut it off immediately and reinstall the filter.

Now that you know the air filter is the problem, all you need to do is clean your filter or replace it with a new one.

Read the Starting Instructions

It’s an obvious step, but so many people miss this one. Since the small engine you’re working on this year may not mirror the one you worked on last year, it’s important that you have a basic knowledge of your equipment.

Get a hold of the starting instructions. You might find them printed on the engine or in the owner’s manual that came with your equipment. If you can’t find it at either of these places, get in touch with the manufacturer or search online for the instructions written for your piece of equipment.

For a better guide on your particular engine and more detailed information on how to repair it, order a small engine repair manual from Pat’s Small Engine Plus.

Replace the Battery

Because most people don’t use their small engine equipment very often, the batteries only last about a year. When you put it away for the winter, the bitter cold can also affect the health of your battery. If you’re having trouble starting your equipment, your battery may very well be the culprit.

There are ways to avoid this issue. When it comes to small engine maintenance, use a battery tender when you’re not using your equipment. This will extend your battery life and save you repairs in the future.

It’s a good idea to have power in your garage or shed. If you don’t, get an extension cord out there and hook up your battery tender.

Check for Spark Plug Problems


Image via Flickr by bwc

Another issue you might have could originate from the spark plug. Here’s how to check if this is the issue:

  1. Remove the spark plug.
  2. Insert a paper clip about 1/8 inch from the engine as you pull the cord.
  3. Watch for a spark to jump across the gap.
  4. If there’s no spark, you know that the spark plug is the issue.
  5. Replace the plug.

Check for a Flooded Engine

If you’re having issues starting your small engine and have tried starting it for a while, it may not need repairs at all. You may have just flooded the engine.

A flooded engine occurs when there’s too much fuel in the engine that it can’t ignite. You can tell it’s flooded when the motor begins but the engine doesn’t start. You might also smell an odd odor.

How do you fix it? That’s simple. Simply walk away for about 15 minutes so that the fuel can evaporate, and then come back and try starting it again.

Before you start working on your engine, make sure that you have a basic understanding of how your equipment works or you could end up damaging it further.

Updated: August 28, 2013 — 6:09 am