Carburetor for honda push mower

Carburetor for honda push mower DEFAULT

When your Honda lawn mower’s engine doesn’t idle, lacks power at high speed, or won’t start, it could be time to adjust the carburetor. If you have never done this before, you are probably wondering how difficult it will be, what tools you will need, and if you should just call an expert.

Adjustments to a Honda lawn mower’s carburetor should be made after it has been cleaned. If the carb is dirty, adjustments will be temporary. You will need some screwdrivers, a wrench, a carb cleaner, and an hour or two. Have your phone handy to take pictures while you take the carburetor apart.

Keep reading to find out how a carburetor works, what could be causing different problems, as well as preventative measures.

How Does a Carburetor Work?

How Does a Carburetor Work?

Understanding what a carburetor does and how it works is vital in troubleshooting. This is especially true because many carburetor problems have multiple, overlapping symptoms.

The carburetor’s role is to provide the space where gas and air mix. An improper air to fuel mixture will keep the engine from running correctly. An incorrect gas and air mix cause most carburetor problems. Your job is to figure out what is causing the mix to be off.

  • Float Chamber: The float chamber holds fuel, and as the amount of fluid increases, the float rises until it is pushed into its seat. When fuel leaves the chamber, the float falls. As more fuel enters, it rises again.  
  • Intake:  Air rushes through the throat of a carburetor, and then a narrower passageway called a venturi. This causes the air to speed up, creating a vacuum that pulls fuel into the fuel nozzle.  
  • Fuel Jet: Once the proper gas/air mixture has been created, the fuel is pulled through the fuel jet. This creates the explosion that powers the engine.
  • Throttle Valve:  This valve controls the amount of gas that goes into the carburetor. An open valve increases the engine’s power, and a closed valve stops the engine.

Carburetor problems can occur at each of those points, and the way to fix most carburetor problems is to get inside and see which of these is causing the problem. 

Why You Should Clean the Mower’s Carburetor

Why You Should Clean the Mower's Carburetor

Although you might be tempted to play around with the throttle or make other adjustments, clean the carburetor. Otherwise, any corrections you make will be temporary, and you could wind up causing even more damage to the carb.

Also, get a parts cleaner, such as WD-40 Specialist Carb/Throttle Cleaner. It contains the solvents you need to clean out the gunk, and the spray will blast away dirt and deposits. For tools, you will need screwdrivers and a socket wrench.

Mower Engine Starting Problems

Mower Engine Starting Problems

If your engine is not starting, you have difficulty starting it, or it stops after you get it started, then the following could be causing starting problems:

  • The main jet, main nozzle, or main nozzle air path could be clogged.
  • The float isn’t moving correctly.
  • The throttle stop position is wrong.

Mower Speed Problems

Mower Speed Problems

If the engine speed does not increase, the speed is unstable, or the engine performs poorly at high speed, then an additional clog to check for is the pilot jet—either its air path or the jet itself are clogged.  

Should speed problems happen at low speeds or the idle speed is unstable, then in all likelihood, the pilot jet or its air path is clogged. You will need to check for dirt and clean.

Mower Gasoline Problems

Mower Gasoline Problems

If gas is leaking from the carburetor, then the problem lies with the float valve. Either the float valve is worn out or coated with dirt, or the valve seal is worn or dirty.

Getting to the Mower’s Carburetor

Getting to the Mower's Carburetor

Before you get started, we recommend you disconnect the spark plug cap. This is to prevent the mower from accidentally starting. Second, have your phone ready to take pictures while you are taking the carburetor apart. 

Fix Without Taking the Carburetor Apart

You might get lucky and avoid having to take the carburetor apart. To do so, focus on cleaning out the carburetor idle jet. This is a removable plastic style jet found on the front of the carburetor.  

  1. First, spray the carb cleaner and remove the dirt and gunk. 
  2. Look for a plastic screw with a Phillips head bolt. That’s the idle adjustment screw. Loosen and remove it.
  3. Now you will have access to a rubber plug with a hole. This is the idle/pilot jet. 
  4. To remove the pilot jet, you need to pull it out gently. Use flathead screwdrivers to wedge it up. 
  5. After you get it out, you should clean it with the carb cleaner. The small hole on the end often gets plugged. Honda makes Jet Cleaner sets, but a tiny pin will be a good substitute.
  6. After you have cleaned the pilot jet, push it back in carefully, and then replace the idle screw. Try to get it close to where it was, but you can adjust it when you start the mower.

Clean Out the Float Bowl

The float bowl is at the bottom of the carburetor. It is easy to take off, but before you do, turn off the fuel line. Then loosen the bolt on the bottom and take out the bowl. 

There are two gaskets—one where the bowl connects to the housing, and another one on the bolt. Inspect both for cracks. Then clean out the bowl and replace the housing.

Taking the Mower’s Carburetor Apart

Taking the Mower's Carburetor Apart

If the mower is still not running correctly, then the carburetor must be taken apart so that you can clean it. This is a much more complicated procedure and could take an hour or more.

  1. First, remove the air filter. If it is dirty, replace it. A dirty air filter can affect how well your mower runs better. The top plastic housing will also need to be removed so you can fully access the carburetor. 
  2. Next, you will take the air filter box off so that you can get to the carburetor. In most models, it is held on by two bolts. As you loosen the bolts, hold onto the carburetor. The bolts run through the carburetor and mount it to the motor housing.
  3. Now that you have access to the carb, get ready to start taking pictures. Anything you unhook needs to be hooked back correctly. Keep an eye out for the tiny spring attached to the top.  
  4. Once you have taken the carburetor off, it is time to disassemble. As you do so, check the gaskets—worn ones need to be replaced. Continue taking the carb apart and cleaning. Every hole needs to be clear of dirt.  

Finally, the carburetor will have to be reassembled. Hopefully, you took lots of pictures so that you have them as guides.  

Rather than taking a carb apart, some folks simply buy a new carburetor. Be sure to check compatibility with your Honda Mower.

Check out this 12-minute video that will take you through the steps of fixing a lawn mower carburetor:

Fuel Recommendations for Honda Small Engines

Fuel Recommendations for Honda Small Engines

To prevent future problems, make sure you are following Honda’s recommendations. Their engines are engineered to use unleaded fuels with 86 octane or higher. Ethanol fuels can be used as long as the fuel has no more than 10% ethanol (E10). A fuel with methanol should contain no more than 5% methanol.

Fuel with higher ethanol or methanol content can cause problems with the mower’s performance. The engine’s warranty does not cover damage to the engine caused by fuel with more than 10% ethanol.  

If possible, regular unleaded gasoline is ideal. Avoid E85 at all costs because Honda considers it an alternative fuel since it is 85% ethanol and only 15% gasoline.

Storage Suggestions to Prevent Carburetor Problems

Storage Suggestions to Prevent Carburetor Problems

These are some suggestions to prevent future carburetor problems. Gasoline can begin to deteriorate within three to four weeks, so use these if you only mow every couple of weeks:

  • Fill up the tank. As fuel is exposed to heat or air, it oxidizes and can gum up the carburetor’s jets. Keep the tank full to minimize how much gas can enter the tank through the vent.
  • Run the engine out of gas. No fuel = no oxidation. If the mower only has a little gas in the tank, run it dry and close the fuel valve.
  • Storage container. Make sure you close the container tightly and store it in a cool place. Honda discourages metal fuel containers since they might rust, and tiny rust particles can clog the carburetor.
  • Fuel Stabilizer. Fuel stabilizers should be added if gas is stored either in the container or the mower for three months or longer. If you plan to use the mower within a year, there is no need to drain the gas from the fuel tank or carburetor—as long as you add the stabilizer.

Final Thoughts

Carburetors are an essential and often overlooked part of a lawn mower. If your mower is not running well and you have checked the air filter and spark plug, you might have to work on the carburetor. Taking the carburetor apart and cleaning it is time-consuming but not difficult. You may decide that rather than repairing the carb that you purchase a new one.

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I have a Honda HRX217KHMA that wouldn't start. I'm almost certain that it needed a carb cleaning from sitting too long over the winter months.

So I took the Keihn carburetor apart and cleaned all orifices with W-D and blew them out with compressed air. I also removed the jet and did the same.

I put everything back together, turned on the gas valve and found a lot of gas leaking. I couldn't see where it was coming from because the air filter assembly blocks the view of the carburetor. But it felt like it was leaking from the where the bowl meets the carb body. I figure it must be the gasket since I reused the same one although it looked fine.

I took it apart again and made sure there was no gas in the float and that it moved freely, and changed the bowl gaskets. I put everything back together, turned on the gas valve only to find that again, it leaked badly. But I can't see where it's coming from because of the air filter assembly.

I doubt it's leaking from the gaskets since they're new I'd think that any leak would be slow. It's as if the float is stuck and the carb is overflowing, but it looked fine before I put it back together.

A friend tells me that maybe the o-ring where the needle seats fell out during dis-assembly. I can't find a parts diagram for that model, but I checked a parts diagram of a Keihn carb from a similar model HRX217HXA and don't see any o-ring or seat where the needle goes.

Any help would be appreciated.

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When you notice that your Honda lawnmower lacks power and is difficult to keep running, you know that there is a problem with the engine. As is the case, if your trusty honda mower doesn’t start at all, there can be several things to blame. High on the list of causes is a dirty carburetor. A properly working carburetor is a critical part of the lawnmower engine, as it turns gas into vapor and feeds it to the engine.

If the carburetor is not functioning correctly, your Honda lawnmower will not be able to start or runs poorly. Maintaining your carburetor is needed for long-term usage and reliability. This blog will explain how to clean the carburetor in your Honda lawnmower.

How to clean a Honda lawnmower carburetor, step by step:

  • Step 1: Remove the outer casing of the engine area.
  • Step 2: Check air filters and their case.
  • Step 3: Unscrew the carburetor and detach the fuel lines.
  • Step 4: Unhook the float bowl and clean the nuts attached.
  • Step 5: Clean the main gasket and the needle.
  • Step 6: Inspect all connections, including screws and washers.
  • Step 7: Clean the carburetor’s jets by using Carburetor Cleaner.
  • Step 8: Reassemble and reattach.
How to clean a Honda lawnmower carburetor, step by step 1


Steps to clean a Honda lawnmower:

It is easy to clean, tune-up, or repair your Honda carburetor. It involves some simple steps. If you add cleaning the carburetor to your maintenance routine, you can enjoy long-term use of your mower and protect it against failures.

● Step 1. Remove the outer casing from the engine area:

The first step is to loosen the fuel tap. If your mower is gas-powered instead, remove the gas from the gas valve. Then remove the casing from the engine part. It can be done by simply opening some nuts here and there. This should reveal the Lawn mower’s insides, and the different parts should be visible now.

After you have removed the cover, it is a good idea to disconnect the spark plug cables. This way, you ensure that the engine can not unintendedly start. Also, try to park the Honda lawnmower on a hard surface that can deal with some gas spill.

Tip: If you are cleaning the carburetor for the first time, there is a helpful tip. Make a video during this process or take some photos of the assembly after each step. This will make the reassemble much easier later on.

● Step 2. Check air filters and their case:

After removing the engine cover, you should see the air filter and the carburetor. Disconnect the breather tube. The breather tube is part of the crankcase ventilation system and, in most cases, includes a one-way valve that makes sure that exhaust gases are not cycling back into the engine. Please note that not all Honda gas lawnmowers have a breather tube.

An essential part of cleaning the carburetor is to verify that the air filter is clean of twigs, muddy grass, and dust. A bunged or blocked air filter will form black smoke, which can be seen from the muffler. It will stop the air from getting into the carburetor, so it cannot “breathe.”

● Step 3. Unscrew the carburetor and detach the fuel line:

Remove the carburetor by unscrewing the mounting bolts. Carefully disconnect the fuel lines, and take out the main assembly. Please stay cautious while you are disconnecting the fuel lines as fuel leaking will occur. It is a good idea to have some rags prepared to wipe the fuel coming from both carburetors and the fuel line. Fuel spilling is a good sign, as it ensures that your fuel line is in good condition and that there is no obstruction there. If no spilling occurs, it means the fuel lines may have been clogged and need maintenance.

● Step 4. Unhook the float bowl and clean the nuts attached:

The float bowl is a small bulgy part present on the carburetor. It can collect a large amount of residue or slime on it. This residue will decrease the Honda’s carburetor functioning capacity and can cause problems when you start or use it. Initially, clean the carburetor bowl using the carburetor cleaner or spray. A single screw holds the bowl; remove that screw to release the carburetor bowl. This nut is a jet with a hole, and you need to make sure that this hole is clean. This is easy to do by poking a paper clip or a piece of thin wire inside it. Debris present inside the jet is one of the frequent reasons why a carburetor stops working, and just cleaning the hole will fix this problem. At last, spray some carburetor cleaner on the nut. If the bowl is impaired or predominantly dirty and is difficult to clean, you should consider to replace it rather than clean it.

● Step 5. Clean the main gasket and the needle:

You need to unthread the screws to remove the prime bulb and base. Remove the metering plate, the diaphragm, the main gasket within the carburetor itself, and the bowl. When you have done this, the carburetor is disassembled. If the gasket is old and rusty, tidy it by rubbing it carefully off with sandpaper. The rust might disturb the bowl’s functionality. If the gasket is entirely damaged, extract the old one and replace it with a new one. Check the manual from your Honda lawnmower if it contains more details on the exact version you need.

Once you have removed the bowl, you will notice the float is fastened to the carburetor with a pin. Removing the float pin will release the float and needle. Inside you will see a small gasket that you should replace if it does not look ok. Take care that you fit the new one the right way around (take pictures or a video).

● Step 6. Inspect all connections, especially screws and washers:

If the problem persists after the previous cleaning steps, you need to check all the possible connections between the choke plates and the carburetor’s throttle of your Honda Lawnmower. They can become dirty and can bind and stick to each other. Inspect the float chamber, float pin, and float valve tip for any damage or dirt. It is good to check the mower’s carburetor washers and screws if there are any wear and tear. Vibration, abrasion, and prolonged use of the carburetor can slowly loosen the screws causing vibrations.

● Step 7. Clean the carburetor’s jets by using the carburetor cleaner:

The Honda mower’s carburetor takes in fuel through small jets. These jets vaporize the gas that is then combusted with a spark from the spark plugs. If the cleaning in step 4 did not help enough, the jets need to be cleaned more thoroughly. Small debris like grass particles, dust get into the jets, and they may get blocked. These deposits can clog the air and fuel passage and decrease efficiency. Another cause can be when the gas is not of good quality (high octane) or merely is not clean. When you are done cleaning the carburetor’s transparent surfaces with the cleaner, you must examine any other maintenance problems, similar to old fuel, filthy air filters, old and fouled spark plugs, deteriorated engine oil, and more.

● Step 8. Reassemble and reattach:

After inspecting and cleaning your Honda lawnmower carburetor thoroughly, you can reassemble it and put it back in its original location. If you made some photos or video, you could check how it needs to be fitted back. When everything is back in place, add fuel to the tank and start it up. It should start up easily and quickly.

Safety Precautions:

Safety should always be your primary concern whenever carrying out repair work of any kind. Take care of the following points:

  1. Cooled engine: Before you start, make sure the mower engine has cooled.
  2. Work in an area with some ventilation: Certify that you are working in a properventilation area when taking apart the carburetor. If you are functioning in a garage, unlock the door and windows. It is urged to use an aeration fan in such areas. If your garage or workshop does not have windows or doors you can open, you should consider working somewhere to avoid personal injury or property damage.
  3. Always use fresh fuel: Usage of new power avoid major problems regarding stalling. Old or rusty fuel in the fuel tank can be highly noxious.Do not keep the energy for an extended period in the carb’s cabin.
  4. Use fuel stabilizers: Usage of fuel stabilizers avoids the residual formation in the compartment, as it consists of chemical additives that enhance the residual fuel life.
  5. Carburetor repair kit: Carburetor Cleaners are readily available in the market, behave as anti-rust agents and sifting the grease. It will help you in servicing and replacing the defective components like the float and float needle, gaskets, and diaphragms.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What is the most simple way to clean a carburetor without taking it apart?

You need not remove the carburetor to clean it. If you have lesser time or do not want to face the technicalities, you may only remove the carburetor bowl, which is often the main culprit. Spray the cleaner inside, wait for some time and then spray again to ensure the coverage.

2. Can you spray carb cleaner in the spark plug hole?

Yes, you can directly spray the carburetor cleaner into the carburetor opening. Then, disengage the spark plug and spray a 2-second explosion down the spark plug hole. Whether it is a two-stroke or four-stroke engine, it will not damage it. Some people believe that it must not be used on a 2-stroke engine, but if it is used only for priming, it will not hurt a thing.

3. Why does my Honda mower surge?

The gas tank lid has a minor hole, which permits air to run into the tank and build backpressure to fuel the carburetor. Dust or dirt can be clogged up this hole. Consequently, the carburetor will not get sufficient fuel, leading to surging. Surging can also occur because of water fouling your fuel.

The carburetor is an essential part of your Honda lawnmower and performs a complex function. Carburetors need regular maintenance. It is easy to take the carburetor apart and clean it using our step by step approach. The blog explains how to find and disassemble the carburetor. Now, you can easily clean the parts with these simple to follow steps. Give it proper care, time, and notice for any cracks, loose seals, and broken parts. If the carburetor still executes poorly, you may need to replace the old carburetor with a new one.  

Rebuild a Honda lawn mower carburetor - Honda GCV 160

Honda Lawn Parts Blog

Honda HRR Series LawnmowerWhen it comes to converting fuel into actual energy, few parts within a Honda mower are as essential as the carburetor. This key piece of equipment is responsible for taking in gasoline from the fuel tank, turning it into vapor, and then feeding it into the engine and moving parts that require energy in order to operate. Without a properly functioning carburetor, mower owners will find it nearly impossible to start their equipment, much less use it in any meaningful way. This kind of dilemma makes it pretty clear that proper maintenance and service of the carburetor is a key aspect of long-term usability and dependability during the spring and summer months.
Servicing or repairing the carburetor is pretty easy and involves just a few basic steps. Following through with these steps on a regular basis, perhaps seasonally or monthly, is the key to enjoying long-term use of a mower and protecting it from serious damage.

A Step-By-Step Look at Honda Carburetor Servicing

Though the carburetor performs a complex function, it is actually quite easy to take apart and service on a regular basis. Those new to this kind of repair should follow a simple, step-by-step approach that will open the carburetor up, expose parts that need to be cleaned or repaired, and allow for basic maintenance throughout the year.

Step 1: Remove the Carburetor From the Engine Area

The key to servicing a carburetor is to remove it from the mower, as this allows easier access to the very small bolts and other components found on the equipment. The process of removal does vary between mower models and types, so Honda owners should consult their owner’s manual to learn more about removal in each unique case. Once the carburetor has been removed, it’s time to start opening it up and performing service.

Step 2: Remove and Clean the Float Bowl

The float bowl has a tendency to accrue a large amount of gunk and residue over time, reducing the efficiency of the carburetor and causing problems when starting an engine or driving the mower throughout the lawn. Simply remove the float bowl from the carburetor by loosening the screws holding it in place. In most cases, this involves removing four different screws.

Once the float bowl is removed, use carburetor to eliminate the accumulated gunk and restore the piece to like-new condition. If it is particularly dirty, be prepared to use a fair amount of strength to get the last bit of gunk removed from the bowl.

Step 3: Clean the Carburetor’s Jets

A Honda mower’s carburetor functions by taking in the mower’s fuel through small jets, and then using those jets to vaporize the fuel and eventually spark it so that it turns into energy. For this reason, the jets within a carburetor can become quite clogged in a small amount of time, especially if the gasoline they’re taking in is not the right kind or is simply not very clean.

These jets can be cleaned with carburetor cleaner, though they most often need to be soaked in cleaner for a few hours to help loosen the accumulated gunk and debris. This soaking process should be followed up by a scrubbing of each jet, removing the last bit of residue from the surface. After clean jets are placed back into the carburetor, mower owners will enjoy a noticeably smoother driving and idling experience than was possible with the dirty jets.

Step 4: Check Screws and Washers

Finally, it’s a good idea to check the Honda mower’s carburetor screws and washers for any wear and tear they’ve accumulated. Over time, vibration from the mower and the constant function of the carburetor can cause these fittings to become stripped or worn, putting the equipment into danger. If any screws, washers, or bolts have become excessively worn, simply seek replacements at a nearby dealer to ensure the long-term integrity of the carburetor.

Choose When a New Carburetor is the Only Option

While it’s relatively easy and straightforward to service a Honda carburetor in today’s most popular lawn mower models, the kind of debris and damage that can be sustained by this equipment sometimes necessitates a full replacement. The good news for Honda owners, of course, is that the company maintains a solid commitment to producing OEM replacement parts for its engines and mowers, many of which can be found at

The site, backed by decades of experience and a unique dedication to the Honda family of power equipment products, gives customers access to a parts lookup tool as well as access to first-rate industry support. The combination of these two resources will ensure that the right OEM part is purchased for each carburetor replacement, and that any other parts needed are easy to find and quick to ship. There is simply no better option than for today’s Honda mower owners.


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Mower carburetor for honda push

Honda make reliable, well designed and constructed mowers. You bought one, so you already know this.

So why won’t your Honda mower start? The most common reason a Honda mower won’t start – gummed up carburetor. Other possible causes include:

  • Fuel Valve Off
  • Choke Not On
  • Bad Gas
  • Plug Wet/Faulty
  • Plug Wire Off
  • Air Filter Blocked
  • Carburetor Fault
  • Coil Fault
  • Bail Lever/Ignition Fault
  • Flywheel Timing (Shear-key)Sticking Valve
  • Low Compression

I work on lots of Honda’s and major failures are very rare. Let’s begin by doing some basic checks. Sometimes this will solve the problem or at least point you in the right direction.

This guide will assume that components such as pull cord, throttle levers etc. are working OK. If you think that this is not the case, I wrote a guide that covers all pull cord common problems – check out “Pull cord troubleshooting”.

Diagnosing a no start Honda is pretty straight forward, carry out a few basic tests to eliminate ignition, fueling and mechanical faults. Tests are not difficult, but you’ll need to execute them correctly to avoid burning time or replacing parts needlessly.

This post covers the subject pretty well, however if you need video help, check out “Mower won’t start video”.

It covers the full diagnosing process and repairs of the most common causes of a no start mower.

Check the Basics

  • Is the oil level low?
  • Is the gas turned on?
  • Is the gas fresh?
  • Is the choke on and working?
  • Is the air filter clear and dry?
  • Is the plug wire on securely?
  • Is the bail lever on and working? 

If you need video help checking the basics, check out “Pre repair no start checks video”.

In the workshop, I find the majority of Honda mower engine problems are related to bad gas. Common symptoms of bad gas include, Honda won’t start, engine starts then dies and engine surging.

Oil Level

Some Honda mowers won’t start if the oil level is low, this isn’t a flaw, it’s designed that way to protect the engine. It’s good practice to check the oil level every time you fill the gas tank. Check on level ground and with all wheels set to the same height.

The Honda will take .58 of a quart (.55lt) from empty. If your in any doubt about how to check the oil, you’ll find this guide helpful – “How to check lawn mower oil”.

Check Oil – A Honda won’t like to be over filled with oil either, this can damage the engine, cause it to smoke, leak oil and sometimes not start.

Gas Level

Is there gas in the mower? Sometimes the obvious is the solution, and as Sherlock Holmes says “we should check a fact is indeed a fact”. The customer may have filled the gas tank with what they thought was good gas.

At my shop I have found many strange concoctions – diesel, water, white spirits, vinegar and of course last years gas makes a regular appearance in the tank. The fix for bad gas – drain the tank and clean the carburetor. You might find this guide helpful, it walks you through the whole process – “Carburetor clean out”.

Gas Tap On

The fuel tap is used to cut fuel supply to the carburetor. I tell my customers to turn off the fuel when the mower isn’t in use. It’s easy to forget to turn it on. Honda fit their fuel tap on the right hand side of the engine when viewed from the front of mower.

Air Filter

A blocked air filter will prevent the mower from starting. The Honda air filter needs to be kept clean, check it every 25 hours of use, and replace every 100 hours. Honda fit tool less air filter covers, makes cleaning super easy.

The air filter cover is on the right hand side of the engine, opposite the muffler. Cleaning the filter with compressed air would be nice, but banging on the ground will do just fine. This guide will help you service your mower in under an hour – “Mower tune-up”.

Plug Wire On

It’s easy for the plug wire to come loose, happens all the time. The plug wire lives right at the front of the engine, so it’s banging into shrubs and hedges and the like. It’s the black wire with the rubber boot on the end. Make sure it’s making good clean contact with the plug. Bad or no contact will give you a no start.

Choke On

I meet lots of customers who don’t know how to use the choke correctly, and I don’t blame them, likely they weren’t shown by the retailer. The choke is used to start a cold engine. A cold engine needs more fuel than a hot engine, so the choke creates a richer air fuel ratio.

Some Honda’s will have the traditional choke lever and more modern mowers will have the auto choke set up.

Not sure if your choke is working? This guide will walk you through the testing procedure, see choke testing below.

If your mower doesn’t start on the 3rd attempt, it’s very likely the plug is saturated in fuel – condition known as flooded. The fix is to remove and dry the plug or leave the mower for 30 minutes to dry out, then try again, this time without choke. Check out the Unflood mower video.

If your in any doubt about how to start a mower, this guide covers it all, you’ll be a pro 2 minutes from now – “How to start a lawn mower”.

Choke On – Some Honda mowers are fitted with auto choke and so the choke won’t be controlled by the lever.

Bail Lever On

The Bail lever or dead mans lever, is a safety feature. Its function is to stop the spinning blade within 3 seconds of release. It does this by shutting the engine off and applying a flywheel brake. If the bail lever isn’t held the mower won’t start.

This guide will walk you through testing for spark and how to change a coil, it’s simple. Only some Honda mowers will have the stop/start controlled by the bail lever. Other Honda’s have the stop/start control built into the throttle lever.

Check For Bad Gas

Bad gas is the number one cause of no starts. Your gas could be clean but stale, and mowers don’t like stale gas. Gas starts to go off after one month, it losses its ability to com-bust which causes poor performance and misfiring. When it goes completely stale, usually around 3 months old, it starts to solidify.

This has become such a big problem, last season I got a ton of questions about fuel carburetor cleaning.

Gas Stabilizer – It’s simple to use, just dump one ounce of gas stabilizer into 2.5 gallons of gas, fill your gas tank and run the engine to mix it throughout the fuel system, that’s it.

This stuff will protect and clean your fuel system and can be used in all gas powered kit including 2 stroke engines. See video here.

Check out the “Carburetor cleaning tools” page, it lists all the tools I use including the gas stabilizer.

Gumming – It’s a carburetor killer, using a gas stabilizer will prevent a lot of problems.

That’s all the easy stuff checked, now we’ll dig a bit deeper. Bad gas has become a real problem, especially in Honda’s, the carburetors are so sensitive to contaminated gas and for that reason we’ll perform the gas shot test next.

Try The Gas Shot

Your engine needs fuel, spark and compression to start. Fuel, Spark and Compression are broader areas than their title suggests. Testing will take into account the complete system, for example fueling is more than just the gas, it includes carburetor, tank, air and fuel filters, gas line, intake manifold, etc.

The most likely cause of a no start Honda is fueling, and so we will start there. Next most likely is spark and least likely of all is a compression issue.

To quickly test for a gas issue – by pass the fuel system. We do this by pouring some fresh gas directly into the carburetor.

If you need video help, check out “Mower won’t start video” shows you how to nail this test like a pro.

The symptoms of bad gas vary: mower won’t start; mower runs rough; runs but only with choke; splutters when cutting on a slope; dies when cutting grass; lawn mower starts and then dies.

Remove – Remove the air filter, by pressing the two plastic tabs.

Tilt your mower over and pour a cap full of gas into the carburetor.

Pull – Attempt to start the mower in the normal way.

There are two possible outcomes –

(1) Mower attempted to start or started – tells us we have a fueling fault.  Check out Choke system test below
(2) Mower made no attempt to start – then we’ve likely eliminated a fueling fault, and the fault will probably be a lack of spark. Check out Ignition system test below.

Does Your Honda Need A Tune-up?

Your Honda engine should be serviced at least once per season, ideally in the spring. Tune-up kit includes: oil; plug; air filter; fuel filter (if fitted); new blade (optional).Your Honda engine will likely be a GCV 160 or GCV 190cc.

The service kits will be identical, however Items such as carburetors and blades will be different. Check out “Mower tune-up guide”.

Buying the tune-up kit on line is easy. You can find your model code right at the base of the handlebars, on the body of the mower. Honda mower engines are very common and so you won’t have a problem getting a tune-up kit to match.

MTD supply parts for many brands, including Honda engines. Check out MTD’s easy order parts link below. MTD Shop Engine Parts Now!

Test The Choke System

Your mower won’t start if the choke is faulty. In this next step we need to be sure the choke system is working correctly. The correct starting procedure for a cold engine will require giving it extra gas to enrich the fuel/air mixture which a cold engine needs for a smooth start. Honda use a choke plate type system to achieve a fuel enriched condition. Your mower won’t start if the choke is faulty.

The manual version which will have a throttle lever to control the choke. The auto choke version won’t have a choke lever. Instead, a wax thermostat mounted in the cylinder head heats and pushes on a lever which opens the choke plate.

To test we’ll need to remove the air filter, this allows us view the choke plate. If you have a manual choke control, move throttle lever to full choke position to start a cold engine.

Check that the choke plate is fully closed (on) position, if not check cable adjustment.

Your Honda may have auto choke. If so, when cold, the choke plate should be closed, as per picture. If not, move plate by hand to see if its stuck. If sticking, try WD40.

When the mower has started, the throttle should be moved to the run position. Check that the choke plate is in the fully open (off) position as per picture. If not, adjust cable.

A sticking choke will run poorly and puff black smoke from the muffler. Your Honda may have auto choke. If so when hot, the choke plate should be open, as per picture above. If not, replace choke thermostat at the muffler.

If you found no issues with your choke system, move on to clean the gas bowl.

The Problem With Ethanol Gas

Honda recommends not using fuels with more than 10% ethanol. Ethanol is an alcohol fuel made from sugar, corn and other plant materials. This alcohol is then blended with gas to make ethanol.

It’s claimed that the alcohol content of the ethanol will damage the carburetor’s rubber seals and hoses.

E15 contains 15% ethanol and is not OK to use in Honda mower engines. E15 burns hotter than other fuels, your mower is not designed to run at these temperatures. Ethanol absorbs moisture from the atmosphere.

If the fuel is left in the mower over the winter, the moisture collects in the carburetor. The water will often corrode and leave a varnish type deposit which blocks up the ports. This is what causes the poor running/no start.

If you need help prepping your Honda for hibernation, check out “How to winterize your mower video”.

Gas Stabilizer

Regular gas older than three months is stale unless you use a fuel stabilizer. Ethanol fuels are stale after one month. Gas is the number one reason for a no start or poor running.

Using a stabilizer will prevent lots of these problems. As you know, you don’t have to use the stabilizer all season, but do use towards the end and when winterizing the mower.

Treating your gas will save you downtime, hauling your mower to the shop and  $$$ in repair costs. If you need video help on the subject, check out “Adding gas stabilizer video”.

Stabilizer – Just dump a few drops into into the gas tank, and run the engine. Simple!

Try Cleaning The Gas Bowl

Often just cleaning the gas bowl does the job. Removing the carburetor is a bit of a mission, so if cleaning the bowl gets us out of trouble, it’s worth trying. If you suspect stale gas, then you’ll need to drain the gas tank also.

You can drain the tank by removing the fuel line, but I use a Briggs and Stratton oil extractor instead, makes the job a ton easier, you’ll find a link to amazon here on the “Small engine tools page”.

In the bowl cleaning doesn’t work we’ll need to remove the carburetor, clean it thoroughly and drain the gas tank.

Honda mowers are fitted with different size and type engines. These engines will be fitted with different type carburetors. Your carburetor may look different, but the process is the same.

If you need help, the “Honda mower surging video” covers the bowl draining and cleaning process.

In this part of the guide I will remove just the fuel bowl, spray in some carburetor cleaner. You can find your fuel bowl behind the air filter. You don’t need to remove the air filter housing to access the bowl.

Remember, if your gas is older than three months, it’s stale. So cleaning the bowl won’t always make it go. You may need to drain the tank, carburetor bowl and fill with fresh gas. If this works out for you, great!

If not, check out this guide it covers the whole process and includes pictures – “Carburetor cleaning”.

Pull Wire – When working on your mower remove the plug wire and turn off the gas. This prevents a spill.

Removing the 10mm drain bolt will drain the bowl, but won’t clear the grit from the bowl. I like to remove and clean the fuel bowl. Drain the fuel tank now, if you need to.

Turn on the gas to check fuel flow, if no fuel flows from the carburetor, move on to – Fuel flow test below.

Spray some carburetor cleaner up at the main fuel jet before refitting the bowl.

That’s it, test mower and if it’s still not right, check out “Carburetor cleaning”.

Try Cleaning The Carburetor

Okay, I will assume you have tried cleaning the fuel bowl as per the above guide without success. Now you need to remove the carburetor and clean it.

Have some carburetor cleaner or similar, container for nuts and bolts and take lots of pictures to help you remember where levers and gaskets are positioned.

There are a couple of different styles of carburetor, yours may look a little different, but the process is the same. Some will have a manual choke, others will have auto choke. Some will be more challenging to remove than others.

If you need video help check out “Honda mower surging video”. It covers both type carburetors and guides you through the process of removing the carburetor, stripping, cleaning, rebuilding, refit and adjusting.

Here’s some of the tools I use to clean carburetors, they’ll make the job a lot easier. “Carburetor cleaning tools”.

If you find carburetor corrosion or it’s badly gummed up, go ahead and replace it, because nobody likes doing a job twice. Replacement carburetors are not expensive.

Note that GCV 160cc and GCV 190cc carburetors look the same, but are different. So when ordering have your model number handy.

Check out “Lawn mower carburetor types”, it’s a list of common type carburetors

Carburetor Removal

Removing a Honda carburetor can be a little challenging. It’s not complex but there’s lots of gaskets which must be replaced in the same order. In addition, the air filter housing bolts are also the carburetor bolts, so the challenge is to align gaskets, carburetor and air filter housing before threading the bolts.

Take lots of pictures of gaskets and carburetor link positions. Lay out your gaskets in an order that makes sense to you. All you really need here is patients. Buckle up!

Remove – Remove plug wire and turn off fuel as before. Loosen bolt on the fuel bowl.

Remove the air filter.

Loosen the air filter box/carburetor bolts (3) – two carburetor bolts and one air box bolt.

Use a suitable container for small parts.

Fitted to the back of the housing is a pipe which just pulls off, it’s the crankcase breather.

Take pictures of gaskets and locations.
Remove 3 bolts and take more pictures of throttle link locations.

Set any loose gaskets aside, and in order.

Some gaskets will stick to the carburetor or other components and that’s fine don’t remove them.
Gaskets must be fitted in the same location and orientation.

Drain Gas – If you haven’t already, drain out the old gas. Use a long flat screwdriver, pry off the gas line, removing the gas cap speeds up the draining process. Best to do this outside, gas stinks.

With the fuel line removed, you can turn the carburetor on its side to unhook the choke, throttle links and spring. Don’t be tempted to bend the links.

With the carburetor free, move to a bench.

Strip Down – Remove bowl, float and needle, this is done by pulling the pin. If your bowl is very corroded, go ahead and order a new carburetor as repairing rusty carbs isn’t worth the effort.

Check the needle tip, a worn tip turns pink. When these seal tips wear, they can cause either too much fuel flow or no flow. Replace needle or replace whole Honda carburetor.

Remove the main jet retaining screw. These guys are made from brass which is a soft metal. So a proper fitting screwdriver is essential, otherwise the screw will be damaged.

The brass emulsion tube needs to be pushed free. Take a suitable screwdriver and push on it. It may need further encouragement, tap on the housing as per picture, until tube is free.

Clean the port holes of the tube and retaining screw  thoroughly. I use a strand of wire plucked from a wire brush. The holes may look clean, but are dirty. After you have cleaned them, they will be noticeably bigger. This allows more fuel to flow to the engine.

Spray all carburetor ports liberally with carburetor cleaner, fuel inlet, float needle seat, jet, throttle plate, choke plate and any other ports you can see

Reassemble, fit the jet, screw, float and needle. Careful when fitting the gas bowl, the large o ring can become pinched, apply some oil to help it seat. Don’t over-tighten the bowl, it causes it to leak.

Refit carburetor to the mower. Take special care when fitting the gaskets. Check your reference pictures. This bit gets overlooked, but it’s important. Clean out the fuel can and your gas tank.

Check tank for grit and if you’re not sure the gas is good, replace it. Fill with gas and turn on fuel. Fit spark plug wire, and you’re good to go.

Check The Gas Flow

This section deals with a lack of gas flow from the carburetor. The areas for consideration are: gas cap; carburetor float needle seal; fuel filter; fuel tank; fuel lines.

If you have too much gas flow, the float needle is at fault, and yes you could replace the needle but often this doesn’t fix the problem. I like to replace the whole carburetor. This page list popular carburetors “Carburetor types”.

Small engine mowers use gravity flow to get fuel to the carburetor. Meaning the fuel tank should be higher than the carburetor. To test for flow make sure you are on level ground and have a minimum 1/4 full fuel tank.

Common reasons for no fuel flow are bad gas cap and dirty float needle seal.

The best way to troubleshoot no fuel flow is with the fuel bowl removed. A fuel tank needs to breath. When fuel leaves the tank it needs to be replaced with air.

A sealed tank will prevent fuel from flowing. Remove the gas cap and check flow, if it now flows, replace the gas cap, it’s faulty.

Honda employ a mesh screen in the bottom of the fuel tank to filter the gas. Look in to the gas tank, which is easier when it’s empty, and check the filter for grit. ​​I use a suction pipe to clean the bottom of the tank, however sometimes you need to remove it to clean it thoroughly.

Check if the gas tap is the problem, remove the gas line to the tap and check flow.

Remove the float and check the needle seal. Use fine wire to clean out the needle seat in the carburetor. I use a strand from a wire brush.

Blow some into the needle seat on the carburetor. Fuel should start to flow.

Test The Ignition System

Spark is just as important as fresh gas. When it comes to spark, your plug is the first component to check. So be sure to have a good plug on hand. In this section we will check the: plug; plug wire; coil; coil control wire; bail lever.

The test will require removing some covers. You don’t need any special tools to complete this test, but I prefer to use a spark testing tool and a plug gap tool. you can find both here on the “Small engine tools page”.

You can check out Ignition system testing and repairs here “Mower won’t start video”.

A video on testing and repairing the ignition system is included in the mower repair video library.

For this test you will need a spare plug, any plug will do for the test. But only fit Spark Plug (BPR6ES) to a Honda GCV 160 and 190.

You’ll also need a plug spanner, insulated pliers and a very brave helper, who can withstand extremely high voltage……. I’m Joking, it’s only moderately high.

Spark Test

Note: The best way to test spark is with the In Line Spark Tester tool or similar, as it will load up and stress test the coil. You’ll find a spark test tool listed on the “Small engine repair tools page”.

Grounding spark plug

Remove the plug from the mower and put the plug wire back on the plug. Now hold the plug against the metal of the engine using the insulated pliers, take care to ground it well.

The helper now attempts to start the mower while you observe plug spark. You should see a bright blue spark. If no spark, try the new plug.

Spark Test – There’s 2 possible outcomes:

(1) No spark with either plug. If so keep reading.
(2) Spark is good, if that is the case, check out “Carburetor cleaning” and if that fails run a compression test.

If you have no spark or your spark is poor you could have a faulty coil; spark plug wire; coil cap; short circuit of coil control wire or poor bail lever cable adjustment. Look for obvious signs of damage.

Throttle Stop / Start

Most Honda mowers are fitted with stop/start control at the throttle lever and some have the bail lever stop/start, which is covered next.

The stop/start coil control switch seen here, is mounted beside the carburetor. Check that the switch is being operated by the linkage when you set the throttle to the start position. If not, adjust the cable at the throttle lever.

Testing Throttle Switch – I don’t usually test these switches, because they don’t give trouble. So at this point I would go ahead and fit a new coil.

However you can test them by unplugging and repeating the spark test performed at the start of this guide.

  • If after running the test, the plug now sparks, replace the switch.
  • Still no spark, replace the coil.

Bail Stop/Start

This is the other type stop/start system, the bail lever, and is connected to the engine brake which incorporates a simple stop/start switch. When the lever is released a brake block pushes against the flywheel slowing the engine down. At the same time the simple stop/start coil control switch is operated.
Check that the switch is being operated when you pull the bail lever. If not adjust the cable.

Testing Bail Switch – At this point I would go ahead and fit a new coil, because I have never fitted one of these switches. But you can test the switch by un -plugging and checking for spark as before.

  • If after running the test, the plug now sparks, replace the switch.
  • Still no spark? replace the coil.

Replacing Coil

Coil Replacing – Your engine may look different but this process will be the same. Remove plastic pull assembly cover. Remove pull assembly held on by 3 nuts.

Fuel tank is now free, take this opportunity to clean it if needed, otherwise no need to remove fuel line, just set it to the rear of the engine.

Remove – Remove two bolts that hold the coil in place. Remove the coil control push on wire connector, under the coil.

Fit Coil – Fit push on wire connector and bolt the coil in place, but don’t tighten yet.

An air gap must be maintained between the coil and the flywheel. A business card is just the right size. Push the coil snug against the business card and tighten the two bolts. Remove the business card. Rebuild in reverse order.

Don’t forget to refit the push on wire connector and turn on the gas.
Nice work!

Related Questions

Brand new Honda mower won’t start? The most common reason a new Honda mower won’t start is because the fuel tap is turned off. The tap is positioned just below the gas cap.

Other possible causes include:

  • Gas level too low
  • Bail lever not pulled (if fitted)
  • Plug wire not on securely
  • Oil level too low

Honda lawn mower troubleshooting self propel? The Honda mower self propel handlebar control operates by cable and the power from the engine is transferred to the transmission with a belt.

Common problems include:

  • Drive belt breaks (Replace cable)
  • Drive belt jumps off (Refit cable)
  • Weak or no drive – Adjust cable on l/h handle bar
  • Mower hard to pull back-ways – Cable over adjusted (Adjuster on l/h handlebar)


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