Help! My Small Engine Won’t Start

A lot of friends come to me with questions about their generator, snow blower, and lawn mower engines. Every so often, I’ll feature answers to my most-received small engine questions.

Help! My small engine doesn’t start after being in storage!

To start, did you remember to treat the gas before putting your snow blower, generator, or lawn mower away for the season? It’s likely your engine isn’t starting due to untreated gasoline in the fuel system that can even remain in the carburetor and cause problems. 

The moment you fuel up your small engine, the gas begins to degrade. Within a month, especially in warm weather, untreated gas goes stale, coating the fuel delivery system in gunky varnish and clogging up your carburetor.

Adding fuel stabilizer is awesome for keeping gas in fresh. The Home Depot carries it and Briggs & Stratton offers a specially formulated fuel stabilizer for 2- and 4-cycle engines.

Also, always be sure buy fuel in-season—gas is specially blended for the climate, which affects engine performance.


Fuel Stabilizer: To Use or Not To Use is the Question

Fuel Stabilizer: To Use or Not To Use is the Question


From forums to home improvement blogs, there’s been a lot of talk about fuel stabilizer. What does it do? How Fuel Treatmenteffective is it? I’m definitely a tinkerer—trying all different kinds of maintenance techniques and products—and here’s my take on fuel preserver and how to use it.


What Does Fuel Stabilizer Do?

For one thing, it keeps your small engine’s fuel tank from corrosion, minimizing the accumulation of moisture that causes carburetor-clogging rust. When putting away your small engine powered equipment, add the fuel preserver according to package directions and then run the engine for a few minutes to circulate the solution through the carburetor. Alternately, store your snow removal and lawn maintenance equipment with empty tanks.


Pick the Right Fuel Type

Unsure of what gas to put in your in your small engine in the first place? Well, it depends on what it’s powering. Briggs & Stratton offers a useful fuel recommendations guide. And don’t use ethanol! More on that below.

To learn more about choosing a fuel and some facts and myths about it, check out the guide to boutique fuels and fuel comparisons by Popular Mechanics.

Avoid Using Ethanol

While ethanol and flex fuel may be great, eco-friendly options for your car, avoid using it in a small engine. E15 fuel attracts moisture that separates from the ethanol. When this happens, a layer of water and alcohol is created at the bottom of your fuel tank that can severely damage it and will likely void your warranty. 

Help! My Lawn Mower Engine Seized Up!

Seized Up Lawn Mower Engine?

Heading out to cut the spring grass and your lawn mower engine seized up? Don’t fear, I’m going to walk you through some simple ways to fix it so it’s back up and running in no time!Seized Engine

Why in the world did my engine seize up on the first place!?

If your engine seized up it’s probably because you haven’t touched your lawn mower in a long time! Another possibility is that the oil too low. The most common reason lawn mower engines seize up is due to a lack of lube which causes the internal components to oxidize. If you want to learn more about lube, check out another article I wrote on engine lubrication.

So how do I fix this problem?

The first thing you should do is buy a can of penetrating oil spray and drain the engine of all of its oil and fuel. Penetrating oil spray can be purchased at your local dealer or at any of the major brand websites (Briggs Parts, Honda Parts, Kohler Parts, or Kawasaki Parts), or even smaller parts sites like Jack’s Small Engines.

After that you should remove the spark plug from the lawn mower engine. IMPORTANT: Make sure you follow the instructions in your manual for this part!

You are going to want to then adjust the push mower engine so that the spark plug hole is facing up.

Next, be sure to spray the penetrating oil all over and in the spark plug hole. You’ll want to let the oil set in the combustion chamber for about an hour.

Now it’s time to strap on a pair of work gloves as you’ll have to manually move the engine’s piston down the bore with your hands. Grip the mower blade and gently move it back and forth. You’ll want to continue this until the engine rotates freely. If it’s working correctly, the blade and crankshaft should rotate together.

Now simply re-install the spark plug and then fill your small engine with the appropriate type and amount of oil. Once it has enough oil you can go ahead and fill it with fuel!

By now, your lawn more engine should start and your small engine should no longer be seizing up. It’s a good idea to let it run for several minutes before shutting off, now.


I’ve done all that and my engine IS STILL SEIZED UP!

If the steps I’ve listed above do not work, this probably is a good indication that your engine’s parts are far too oxidized to be fixed by penetrating oil and you’ll probably have to replace them. You’ll have to stop into a dealer or search online for the right parts to get your mower back up and running smoothly.

Tire Sealant

If you drive your tractor or lawn mower over some rough yards or surfaces or frequently hit debris or bumps you have probably had a flat tire at some point. A great way to avoid this is tire sealant!

Tire Sealant 16oz 100032WEB

So what is tire sealant and how does it work?

Tire sealant is a fiber-filled liquid which goes into the interior of a tire and provides excess puddling so that if the tire is punctured, the air that is trying to escape would carry the sealant out through the hole and the fibers in the sealant would act to “plug” the hole.

How do I put tire sealant on my tires?

To apply the tire sealant to your tires all you have to do is squeeze the sealant into the valve of the tire while a jack holds the tractor up. Be sure to follow the owner’s manual and tire sealant instructions so you know how much sealant to apply. After applying the sealant, check the tire pressure and balance the tires to ensure everything is normal

That’s it! Now your done!

However, it is important to remember that some tire sealants do not work on tube-type tires, only on tubeless tires.

So where can you pick up your tire sealant? 

Well there are a variety of options online. A quick Google search shows you can by tire sealant from Briggs & Stratton lawn mower parts store, from Walmart‘s parts store, from amazon, from O’Reilly, Northern Tool, and several more.  You can also probably find tire sealant at your local lawn mower dealer.

*Image is of tire sealant, taken from Briggs & Stratton’s online lawn mower parts store.