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Small Engine Won’T Start

The 10 most common part(s) or condition(s) which contribute to the symptom Small engine won’t start are listed below. Check or test each item and watch any available videos. If you are still unable to solve the problem you may need to do additional research and troubleshooting. Remember, with our 365 Days. Period.® return policy you can return any part for any reason. So, go ahead and buy it to try it. No other parts retailer offers this unconditional return policy.


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For the symptom you selected, these are the most common parts or causes, ordered by the likelihood of fixing the symptom.

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Spark Plug

If the small engine won't start the spark plug might be defective. All small engines have an ignition coil. The coil is the device that provides spark for the spark plug(s). If the coil is bad power won't get to the spark plug(s). The coil is essentially a small, induction generator. It is mounted next to the flywheel. The flywheel has one or more strong, embedded magnets. As the flywheel spins, the magnet(s) zip past the induction coil, this action of a magnet passing past a coil induces a voltage. Depending on the design of the coil and the strength of the magnets, a stronger or weaker spark can be created and delivered to the spark plug(s). Each time the flywheel spins around a spark is generated. The best way to test a spark plug is to use a spark plug tester. The spark plug should have a strong, visible spark between the electrodes when the engine is cranking. If it doesn't, replace it.

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Carburetor

If the small engine does not start, the carburetor might be clogged or have bad fuel in the float bowl. If old fuel was left in the small engine for a long time some of the volatile ingredients may have evaporated, leaving a thicker, stickier product that is more like varnish or shellac. This sticky fuel can clog up the small jets and ports in the carburetor and it can be difficult to burn making it hard to start the engine. The only solution is to drain the old fuel from the float bowl and thoroughly clean the carburetor with carburetor cleaner. If that isn't effective, replace the entire carburetor.

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Ignition Coil

If the small engine won't start the ignition coil might be defective. All small engines have an ignition coil. The coil is the device that provides spark for the spark plug(s). If the coil is bad power won't get to the spark plug(s). The coil is essentially a small, induction generator. It is mounted next to the flywheel. The flywheel has one or more strong, embedded magnets. As the flywheel spins, the magnet(s) zip past the induction coil, this action of a magnet passing past a coil induces a voltage. Depending on the design of the coil and the strength of the magnets, a stronger or weaker spark can be created and delivered to the spark plug(s). Each time the flywheel spins around a spark is generated. The best way to test the ignition coil is to use a spark plug tester to see if the spark plug is getting a spark. If it is, the ignition coil is working properly.

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Rebuild Kit

If the small engine does not start, the carburetor might be clogged or have bad fuel in the float bowl. A carburetor rebuild kit allow the old carburetor to be repaired. If old fuel was left in the small engine for a long time some of the volatile ingredients may have evaporated, leaving a thicker, stickier product that is more like varnish or shellac. This sticky fuel can clog up the small jets and ports in the carburetor and it can be difficult to burn making it hard to start the engine. The only solution is to drain the old fuel from the float bowl and thoroughly clean the carburetor with carburetor cleaner. If that isn't effective, replace the entire carburetor.

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Recoil Starter

If the small engine won't start the recoil starter assembly might not be engaging with the crankshaft and turning over the engine. Remove the starter assembly to see if it is functioning properly.

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Start Switch

If the small engine won't start the start switch might be defective. Test the switch for continuity with an Ohm meter. If the switch is difficult to turn or works intermittently, replace it. The switch should have a normally open contact in the on position and a closed contact to ground out the spark in the off position.

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Safety Switch

If the small engine won't start the safety switch might be activated or defective. Watch our video on switch testing to see if this switch is good.

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On - Off Switch

If the small engine does not start the on - off switch might be turned off or defective. Test the switch with an Ohm meter or continuity checker.

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Flywheel Key

If the small engine won't start the flywheel key might have sheared in half. The flywheel key is a small metal shim which fits into a slot in the crankshaft and engages with the flywheel. If the engine experiences a sudden stoppage it can cause the flywheel key to shear. The only way to know for sure if this is the problem is to remove the flywheel and inspect the flywheel key.

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Air Cleaner

If the small engine won't start the air cleaner might be clogged. Remove the air cleaner and replace with the correct filter.

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