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Frequently Asked Questions

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What Would Prevent an Engine From Starting

Engine Starter Problems

Most engine starting problems are due to stale old fuel, or dirt and debris in the fuel system. Another common cause (for lawnmowers) is making sure to hold on to the safety bail when starting/pulling the rewind cord.

Many engine performance problems can be linked to maintenance issues such as stale fuel, dirty air filter, fouled spark plug, and deteriorated oil.

A great way to help avoid these problems would be to perform an annual tune-up using a Briggs & Stratton engine Maintenance Kit.

If this is the problem:
Ask this question:
If the answer is yes:

Engine won't start

Fuel line

Is the fuel fresh?

If the fuel is over 30 days old, replace with fresh, treated fuel. (see "Why does my engine start and then shut down?" and "Engine does not start/runs poorly after storage").

Is the fuel tank empty?

Fill the fuel tank; if the engine is still hot, wait until it has cooled before filling the tank (see "Removing and Cleaning the Fuel Tank").

Is the shut-off valve closed?

Open the fuel shut-off valve (see "Removing and Cleaning the Fuel Tank").

Is the fuel diluted
with water?

Empty the tank, replace the fuel and check for leaks in the fuel tank cap (see "Removing and Cleaning the Fuel Tank").

Is the fuel line or inlet screen blocked?

Disconnect the inlet screen from the engine and clean it, using compressed air. Do not use compressed air near the engine (see "Removing and Cleaning the Fuel Tank").

Is the fuel tank cap clogged or un-vented?

Make sure the cap is vented and that air holes are not clogged (see "Removing and Cleaning the Fuel Tank").


Is the carburetor blocked?

Remove the spark plug lead and spark plug; pour a teaspoon of fuel directly into the cylinder; reinsert the spark plug and lead; start the engine; if it runs for a moment before quitting, overhaul the carburetor (see "Adjusting the Carburetor").

Is the engine flooded?

Adjust the float in the fuel bowl, if adjustable; make sure the choke is not set too high (see "Adjusting the Carburetor").

Is the fuel solenoid
(if equipped) functioning properly?

Test the solenoid (if equipped) to ensure it is functioning properly (see "Inspecting the anti-afterfire solenoid").


Is the spark plug fouled?

Remove the spark plug; clean the contacts or replace the plug (see "Servicing Spark Plugs").

Is the spark plug gap set incorrectly?

Remove the spark plug; reset the gap (see "Servicing Spark Plugs").

Is the spark plug
lead faulty?

Test the lead with a spark tester, then test the engine (see "Servicing Spark Plugs").

Is the kill switch shorted?

Repair or replace the kill switch (see "Servicing the Brake").

Is the flywheel key damaged? Did the engine stop all-of-the-sudden after striking an object?

Did the engine abruptly stop (ex. blade strike an object)? See if the flywheel key is sheared. If so, replace the flywheel key, re-torque the flywheel nut to proper specifications, then try to start the engine; if it still won't start, check the ignition armature, wire connections or, in some engines, the points (see "Replacing the Ignition").


Are the valves, piston, cylinder or connecting rod damaged?

Perform a compression test (see "Additional Maintenance"; if the test indicates poor compression, inspect the valves, piston and cylinder for damage and repair them as needed (see "Removing Carbon Deposits", and "Servicing the Valves").

Please also visit our Engine Won't Start and Engine Starts Then Shuts Down FAQs for related information.

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