Many 2-cycle engines have problems and are sent to the junk yard before their time. Typical problems include hard starting, rough running, a need to adjust the carburetor during use to keep the engine from stalling, a need to rev the engine to keep it from dying, and not starting at all.

I will assume the user knows to replace the spark plug regularly, to use fresh fuel, and to replace or clean the air filter.

With time and normal vibration, the screws that seal the crankcase from air leaks loosen just a little and air gets into the engine through leaks in the crankcase gaskets.

First check the mounting screws for the carburetor and tighten them. Then go to the screws that hold the cylinder head to the crankcase body and those that cover the end where the crankshaft comes out of the engine. See the yellow circles on this photo of a weed whacker engine. If any of these screws loosen as little as a quarter of a turn air begins to leak into the engine and the fuel/air mixture either is not pushed into the engine on the piston's downstroke or it becomes too lean for the engine to run by pulling in extra air during the piston's upstroke.

After about ten years of use, no amount of tightening on these screws will make a dead engine run. Chances are the gaskets have become hardened beyond their ability to seal the engine. Dismantle the engine completely and install new gaskets. You may not be able to buy the proper gaskets, but you can buy a sheet of gasket material. Use the old gaskets or the engine castings as a pattern to cut new gaskets. Your engine will run like new again.

Step 1: Clean the exhaust ports, too.

Remove the muffler. The exhaust ports are under it. In time carbon residue from the burned oil in the fuel mixture begins to close off the exhaust ports. An engine is an air pump. What cannot get out blocks what needs to get in. Move the piston to the downstroke position (most distant position away from the spark plug) and knock off carbon deposits with a screwdriver. Turn the engine over by hand a few times to blow the carbon granules out of the engine.

Once I used our small 2-cycle garden tiller. After ten minutes the engine siezed and stopped. I had mixed 2-cycle oil with the gasoline, but it was old by the time I was using it. I found advice on the Internet that said to let the engine cool. Then use a wrench with a long handle to slowly turn the engine over. Turn in the same direction, not back and forth. That engine still works very well, although I am sure it suffered a little. Lesson learned: always use freshly mixed fuel.

When a gasoline engine of any kind will sit unused for any length of time, drain the fuel from the tank and run the engine until all remaining fuel in the system has been burned through the engine. This prevents gums and varnishes from closing off small openings.
I have a chinese 125cc tgb scooter <br>Last night i got to about 90kms and then the scooter died and slowly came to a holt and will not start. Engine electric start is turning over but will not start .please help
I can only say I looked for a discussion of your problem on the Internet. Hard starting after an episode of overheating usually brought concerns about loss of compression due to warped heads, which would explain hard starting after an experience with overheating, the examples I found related to four-cycle engines, <br><br>You may simply need to check the condition of basics related to the engine. In addition to adequate compression, is there a good flow of fresh fuel? Is it properly mixed with clean air? Is there adequate spark delivered at the proper time.?
<p>I have a chinese built chainsaw which has run once, actually ran the fuel tank dry, ever since then I have not been able to start it. Did the usual checks, air filter, plug, fuel mixture, still to no avail. So today I decided to have a look inside, took off the exhaust chamber and turned the motor over a couple of times to have a look at the piston. On the upstroke I could see the fuel bubbling down (past the rings) but the piston itself looked incredibly clean. I then decided to take the head off to have a proper look, in case the rings had got gummed in from running too hot?</p><p>Anyhoo, both the piston and barrel are pristine, looks like there has not been any kind of combustion at all, is that normal? Like I said the chainsaw only worked the once and went through a whole tank, about 2-1/2 hours running, should I have seen some evidence that there had been combustion or not? Oh and the rings were free, not gummed at all. Gaskets in good condition and can be reused. Would it be a fuel delivery problem, over fuelling and flooding every time or some thing else?</p>
<p>I am guessing it did not start again after it cooled down, even though it may have been hot when you first tried unsuccessfully to start it. I have not had he problem you describe, but searched the Internet for related things. One person had a chainsaw that would not start much like yours. In his case the connector that grasps the top end of the spark plug had separated from the cable from the coil, but it was inside the end of the cable, not where you could see it. The lesson learned was that when things get hot they expand and sometimes things move or let go. I would not be too concerned that you cannot see signs of combustion after burning one tank of gas. </p><p>When you pull the cord several times and it does not start, take the spark plug out and see if the plug is wet or dry. That will tell you if the engine is getting fuel or not. There can also be problems with the choke and whether it comes on when it is not needed or does not come on at all (assuming it is not fully manual). </p>
Hi and thanks for the reply. <br>We had done the wet plug test before I stripped it down, yes fuel getting through OK. Now I seem to remember back in the day, I placed a piston ring in upside down in an old Suzuki 2 stroke I used to own!!!!<br>Can you install the rings upside down in a single piston chain saw or does it not matter? <br>When we took the exhaust off we could see fuel bubbling past the rings down into the barrel on the upstroke, surely this is not right and indicates loss of compression? could they (the rings) have been installed incorrectly during assembly? This puzzles me as it has been running previously. Would overheating cause the loss of compression, permanently? If there is a certain way to install the two rings it would be nice to know I am putting it back correctly. <br><br>Thank you
<p>I installed rings in a 4-cycle engine once, but that was quite a few years ago. I would look for information on the Internet about upside down installation of the rings. I have peeked through the exhaust ports on a 2-cycle engine while turning the crankshaft and did not see fuel bubbling past the piston. That would be a good thing to address. I am sorry not to be of more help. We are beyond my level of experience. </p>
Hi i have bought a two stroke scooter NOT A MOPED a scooter i road ir about 8ks and it just died i found out the fuel.i used had already been mixed before i mixed it again so double dosed the oil... i replaced spark plug , carburetor and fuel ... it starts and runs if i spray &quot;START YA BASTARD&quot; down the carbi untill that burns out then just dies again... so now i dont know wat the hell to do
What you describe sounds like fuel starvation. If you crank the engine a few times and then remove the spark plug, is there any moist gasoline on the plug? If not, fuel is not getting to the combustion chamber. Is there a filter in the fuel line or inside the fuel tank? It may be obstructed and need to be replaced. Also, if you have been burning oil rich fuel, you probably have carbon build up in the exhaust ports that will need to be removed. I described that in my Instructable. You may want to check the engine compression. To do that, remove the spark plug cable, but not the spark plug. Make certain the crankshaft can turn freely. Spin the crankshaft by hand. On the compression stroke there should be enough compression to make the piston stop and boucpnce the crankshaft backwards a little.
I have a ezogo golf cart was working then the nxt day it won't go it sits n acts like it wants to go n will then just fall on its face I've changed spark plug which has spark changed fuel filter drain gas n put new in rebuilt carb it it dosent go it will start but won't move alot
Is it 2-cycle or 4-cycle?
2 cycle
<p>Have you checked the exhaust ports to make certain they are not partially blocked with carbon?</p>
<p>I have a starting problem that has me stumped. I have replaced the spark plug, ignition coil and plug wire and fuel line. When I get the engine to start it runs great but as soon as I shut if off I have trouble getting it to start again. Any idea's?</p>
Do all of the basic checks I mentioned in this Instructable, especially that the engine and carburetor gaskets are sealing. If the engine is older than ten years, replace the gaskets, even if you need to get gas,et material and make your own. <br>When an engine is hot things heat up and expand. Hot start problems in cars are also frequently caused by fuel percolation. Too much engine heat finds its way to the carburetor and causes the fuel to boil so that the carburetor no longer works effectively. But, it may be that gaskets which were tight when the engine was cold no longer seal when the engine is hot. <br>Long before the Internet when I had an engine problem we all had to consult a troubleshooting chart in an auto manual and just work through likely causes until we found the problem. There is a good troubleshooting chart at this site. http://www.smallengineadvisor.com/members/2stroke/wont_start.html<br>
Hello I have a 43cc engine that won't start....I tried turning it over and I get nothing so I replaced the spark plug thinking it's the issue so I try cranking it again still nothing but once I took the spark plug out and tried cranking it against the frame it sparks so I know its not the ignition coil but I do see that the flywheel is rubbing against the ignition coil so I'm going to take a business card and readjust the space between the two I just don't know what to do to get a spark while the spark plug in the engine
You have done some good work already. Adjusting the magneto or coil frame so it does not scrape on the flywheel would be good, even if it is not the problem. I know you get s spark when the plug is removed and grounded to the frame of the engine. I know your engine does not start. There may be a spark when the plug is installed in the engine, but the engine would not start if the spark is not properly timed. Some engines have a soft key that shears so the flywheel does not twist the crankshaft when it stops abruptly. Very small engines usually do not have a soft key. <br>Is the ignition pointless, or does it use points and a condenser? Although probably not your problem, I once worked on a lawnmower engine that produced no spark. The primary side of the ignition coil was shorting to ground because a wire to the points was pinched. I mention that because troubleshooting these things often means laying aside all normal assumptions and proving each part of the system is still working until you find the one part that is not. <br>You have replaced the spark plug. Just for the sake of discussion, an old plug sometimes fires outside the engine, but fails to fire when under compression. <br>I know you are focusing on the ignition system. Is there any possibility the difficulty could be with one of the other systems (fuel to air mixture, clean air, adequate compression)?
<p>hi there i have a gilera sc 125 with a Yamaha dt125 engine in it and one day i was riding and my chain came off and rapped around my front sproket on my engine i pushed it to side of the road and put the chain back on started riding and my bike was fine until i go to like 20 mph and i put it on full rev and it just stayied at 20mph in every gear so i changed the clutch plates and springs put it all back together and it was exactly the same full rev clocks say 12 thou rpm and max speed was 24 mph my bike use to do 90+ no problem until my chain came off and locked around my front sprocket if anyone could help and have had this problem before please let me know thanks</p>
Hi Phil,<br>I have a 1980 Yamaha QT50 that sat in a barn for about 15 years, it was used a little before its storage but as I opened things up and began the cleaning process nothing was very dirty which was good. I rebuilt the carb, spent a good amount of time cleaning the gas tank from rust, and got it running and the mixture and idke screws are now set perfectly. My new problem is getting a consistent strong spark. I used a multimeter for about 10 hours checking every single wire to ensure nothing was shorting out as well as testing the key switch and that checked out, I replaced the spark plug coil and the cool pack, and arrived at the culprit of a faulty charging coil, it should read 295 ohms plus or minus 10% and it was at 150.. So I bought a new stator and soldered on a new charging coil and BOOM! Awesome spark every time, but now it sounds like it's misfiring because it idles great but if I rec it up nothing happens, it just remains to idle.. Any suggestions? Sorry for the lengthy explanation.
Carter, I appreciate the thorough description. It sounds like you have made a very methodical and intelligent approach to the problem. I am hardly expert on engine problems. <br><br>Do you know if this engine has a mechanical spark advance with centrifugal weights and restraining springs? The spark timing has to adjust on an engine as the speed at which it is run increases. If it does have a mechanical advance (rather than something computerized and electronic), remove the plate that covers it and see if the weights can move freely. It can happen that some corrosion sets in and the weights do not move properly, if at all, as the RPMs increase, which results in improper timing and a miss. Apply some penetrating oil and work the weights until they move freely.
Thanks Phil I will try to check that out next time I work on it, my only question is why would soldering on a new charging coil and keeping the old stator in place and everything, why would that screw up the timing? I thought the pulsar coil was for the timing and that checked out.. Oh well I'm no expert here either, I'll try it and get back to ya. Thanks again
<p>I did a search on your Yamaha QT50 and found an article at Wikipedia. It contains this interesting paragraph. </p><p>&quot;Other noteworthy features of the QT50 are its unusual charging and ignition system incorporating a six-volt battery and alternator. This system eases cold starting: when the key is placed in the &quot;start&quot; position,the ignition supplies a stronger than normal spark for initial starting, but does not allow the engine to rev so as to avoid burning the piston. Once kicked to life with the reverse-mounted, left-side kickstart lever, the key is turned to &quot;run&quot; and the engine is able to rev freely.&quot;</p><p>I do not know if you are aware of these features or not. Could anything be wrong with the ignition switch? </p>
<p>I believe I know what switch your talking about but I thought the three options were &quot;run&quot;, &quot;off&quot;, and &quot;run&quot;. Maybe the new charging coil turned that switch into a &quot;start&quot;, &quot;off&quot;, and &quot;run&quot;? I'll try it out thanks for the idea!</p>
Actually now that I'm thinking about it I'm almost certain the problem is electric. Any ideas what else could be going wrong electrically? Thanks.
<p>I have a 2 stroke aicooled scooter. Starts fine, and the first ride is fine, but the moment I stop (eg for a traffic light) then take off again, i have no power and instead of riding its normal 52km/hr(approx) it now goes 40.. Im now at the moment to make repairs, but would love to hear what you think I think its the piston rings, or maybe even the spring in the clutch assembly. I wanted to start with the piston rings, which would automatically mean replacing the gaskets. </p><p>What do you think?</p>
<p>It appears several things could cause the problem you are having, the best I can suggest is to check a troubleshooting chart and systematically eliminate possible causes. Here is a pretty good one.</p><p><a href="http://www.smallengineadvisor.com/members/2stroke/main_screen_2S.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.smallengineadvisor.com/members/2stroke/...</a> </p>
<p>hi Phil </p><p>i have a issues with my water cooled 2 stroke motor ok let me list off what i have done so far </p><p>new piston ring</p><p>new ignition coil </p><p>new water pump and bearings </p><p>when i pul;l the starter i see fire come from the exhaust but the motor wont hold a idel or even turn over to complete a full cycle </p><p>whats is wrong with my motor if i have strong compression but the motor wont operate meaning it will not turn over and contune to run on its own </p><p>thank you for ur advise </p>
My first guess is your engine is off of its proper spark time setting. I do not know if your engine has adjustable timing with a distributor you can adjust. If so, find the specifications and check the setting. If there is no distributor, the engine is likely timed by a soft key that locks the flywheel into its proper orientation on the crankshaft. (The magnets for the magneto that produces the spark are in the flywheel.) These soft keys are designed to shear (partially) when the engine stops suddenly as a protection against twisting an expensive crankshaft. They do not need to shear very much to create problems. I had a Tecumseh 4-cycle engine on a lawnmower and the soft key partially sheared. When the engine did fire, it was a backfire and felt like the starter cord wanted to rip my arm off of my body. <br>From what I could find and read, the mixture setting on the carburetor may also be far too rich. Gasoline gets into the hot exhaust pipe without burning, but ignites there causing flames. Also look for anything else that can cause a rich mixture, like a heavy float in the carburetor. <br>Also mentioned in what I read was improper valve timing. <br>I wish you well.
<p>i have a 2000 cr125 2 stroke and i got it about a week ago and it ran fine and now it keeps turning its self off for no reason it sounds good when you first start it but about a min into the ride dies on you</p>
<p>It sounds like fuel starvation. When the engine stops, unscrew the cap on the gasoline tank. Do you hear the sound of air rushing in? If so, the gas tank vent in the cap is not allowing air back into the tank. If that is the problem, you may need a new cap, or need to make the venting in the cap work again. </p><p>This may not be the problem, but it sounds probable.</p>
<p>I have a Honda cr125 2 stroke and it ran fine uptill 2 days ago it runs for about a min and then dies whats wrong with it?</p>
What can cause compression loss??
Problems with the cylinder walls or the piston rings or the spark plug threads could cause a loss of compression. These could be scored cylinder walls, broken or stuck rings, a cracked cylinder, stripped spark plug threads, or a plug loose in its threads, or foreign matter in the plug seat, or loose screws (if the head is a separate piece from the cylinder). Some of these problems result from using no oil or the wrong oil mixed with the gasoline. You probably need to take the engine apart and have a look.
<p>What about the crankshaft seal. Does that need to be replaced along with the crankcase gasket?</p><p>Thanks,</p><p>Todd K.</p>
<p>Todd,</p><p>You have done a very careful and capable gathering of data on your machine's problems and possible causes for them. One other commenter below had a leaky crankshaft seal, and his machine worked again when he replaced that. Our weed trimmer moved on to a new owner before it hit 24 years in age, and I currently have nothing with a small engine in our garage. Also, our weed trimmer was not used heavily, so our crankshaft seals may not have worn out as quickly as yours. I did find I needed to replace crankcase gaskets at 10 years because they were no longer resilient enough to seal well. I wrote about gasket leaks because those were an unexpected problem I had, but none of the diagnostic helps I found seemed to mention that. </p><p>I think the manufacturers of these machines do not expect owners to use them a quarter century. As an example of that sort of thing, I read the bicycles you might buy for your kids at a discount store are expected to be ridden only 250 miles before they are junked, and are designed accordingly. </p><p>Vapor lock certainly could be the problem on your machine from the symptoms you describe. Someone I know just built a very expensive custom automobile for a customer, and the factory new engine in the car suffers from vapor lock after a longer period of operation. In this case, the vapor lock is in the fuel line. He will resolve it with insulation on the fuel line. I know another solution is to add a thicker gasket between the carburetor and the engine block (small engine) or manifold (automotive engine). </p>
<p>Thanks for your thoughts , Phil. Its in my nature to keep a machine running &quot;till the wheels fall off&quot;. Kind of a pride and bragging thing. My wife seldom gets new things as a result. I tore the Ryobi open last night completely...almost. I could not get the crankshaft out of the crankcase. It was supposed to come off the bearings with some hammer taps. I tapped really hard and only got the shaft and bearings to move together inside the crankcase (bearings stuck on the shaft) That didn't seem right so I quit and tapped it back into place. That said, the bearings and shaft seemed good. No axial or radial play. So I figured the seal was OK also. It will have to be what it is. I did find that a piece of a rubber spacer was pinched in the sealing surface of the crankcase during original assembly. I don't know if this contributes to my problem , but it will be corrected on re-assembly along with new gaskets. Then cross my fingers. I will also try the fuel line/carburetor insulation thing if the above doesn't work. Anything low $. My time is cheap, especially since I enjoy tinkering on this stuff.</p><p>Todd K.</p>
<p>Todd,</p><p>Thank you for the report. I suppose it is always possible the crankshaft seal hardened and split. But, if an air leak at crankshaft seal is your problem, it seems strange that the engine runs until you try to restart it hot. Also, if vapor lock is the problem, it seems strange that the problem did not present itself much earlier. &quot;What changed?&quot; is always a good question to ask. </p><p>A couple of years ago I had to junk a good alternator just because I could not get the rotor out of the case so I could clean and grease the rear bearing. In that case, it was not stuck bearings, but wire connections I could not separate to pull the halves of the alternator apart. </p><p>Is the crankshaft bearing pressed on?</p>
<p>Now that you mention it. The &quot;cylinder gasket&quot; (to the crankcase) has an extra long flap on it that extends beyond the cylinder and hangs over the muffler. It did not occur what it is for until just today. I presume it acts as a heat shield to protect the carburetor that sits just above the muffler. That flap became brittle and fell of in pieces a while ago. We could be on to something!</p>
<p>That is a good observation. The few books I read on troubleshooting computers always said to ask what was the last thing that happened before the problem developed. Is there a way to engineer a metal replacement heat shield without disturbing the old head gasket, just in case that gasket is no longer available, if it is not too late for that already?</p>
<p>I'm afraid its &quot;game over&quot; for the old Ryobi 31cc trimmer. I was really sure this afternoon that I would put it all back together with new gaskets and at least get it running like it was before. I ran into trouble putting the flywheel back on (tapered fit) no matter how hard I pounded it would not seat firmly. I even heated it up with propane torch, no go (prolly should of gone with MAPP). At that point I figured I had nothing to lose pounding the crankshaft (and the bearings) out of the crank case. It came out easy enough. Even the the outboard bearing finally gave up its grip of the shaft. The inboard bearing however was on tight. I tried driving a screwdriver (like a wedge) to work it off. It was very stubborn and I only got it about a 1 cm further before I damaged the shield. So at this point I am giving up...but I would like to know from you, Phil...How does one put a flywheel back on one of these? And how do you get the bearings off in one piece. The only thing I can figure is that during assembly they may have frozen the shaft to slip the bearings and flywheel on.</p><p>I hate losing!</p><p>Todd K.</p>
<p>A friend acknowledged his occasional (expensive and frustrating) defeats, but consoled himself by recalling he had experienced more successes over the years, on balance. </p><p>I once did an Instructable on a cord snapping backfire problem we had with our Sears (Tecumseh) mower engine. The flywheel on a Briggs &amp; Stratton engine always seated on its tapered shaft with no special effort, but something about the Tecumseh flywheel was similar to the problems you had. I had to find the factory torque figure and even the proper torque was barely enough to keep the flywheel in place and avoid overloading the soft key so that it sheared and failed. In my limited experience, very small engines like weed trimmers and chainsaws have a small steel key that keeps the flywheel in place after the nut is tightened. </p><p>I can only guess the crankshaft bearing was pressed onto the shaft at the factory. It may be you are supposed to replace the crankshaft and bearings as a unit. If you would choose to look for parts, a lot depends on Ryobi's policies. Some companies have continued to make parts available for all of their products back to day one. Others keep parts available for maybe ten years. Sears (in our experience) might still have parts available, but the price increased steeply after a few years as an inducement for the customer to buy a new machine. </p>
<p>If only that flywheel had a nut holding it on. It was just pressed on. Next time (in another 25 years) I will know not to mess with the flywheel if not needed on a small trimmer</p><p>Thanks for all your support, Phil</p>
<p>Todd,</p><p>I am sorry it has come to buying a new machine. Maybe the new machine will have a nut on the flywheel. It has been nice chatting with you.</p>
<p>Woo <br> hoo! I get a do-over. I called Karl today. We bought the exact same trimmer at the <br>around the same time in 1995 (so that makes it 20 yrs old, not 24 yrs <br>like I first thought). He gave up on his a couple of years ago. I <br>asked if he still had it...YES!...Now I have couple of choices. I can <br>strip his down and get the donor crankcase / flywheel (still assembled) <br>and slap it in mine (with the new gaskets). Or I can do some quick <br>diagnostics on his (I've gotten real good at that in last 2 weeks). Make sure compression and spark is there. Slap on my just rebuilt carburetor and bust it off. <br> He said he took apart and cleaned the carb, but did not put a rebuild <br>kit in it. Silly Karl. And even better, I get all his attachments that <br>will work on it and my new Husky! I owe you a beer, Karl</p><p>Todd K.</p>
<p>Phil,<br>Great article. I have read ALL the comments.<br><br>I have a 24 yr old Ryobi 31cc trimmer. Starts cold and runs great, but wont restart when hot if I let it sit for more than a minute. A shot of ether in the spark plug hole will get it going again usually. Spark plug is dry after attempts to restart. When cold, primer bulb is firm and full of liquid. When hot, bulb is not as firm and doesn't seem to be moving much liquid. Compression test on top end 105 psig cold and hot. Spark seems OK cold and hot.<br><br>Everything seems to indicate fuel problem and maybe vapor lock when hot. I see you are all about crankcase gaskets on old machines, but seem a little stumped on hot start problems. Could the two be related?<br><br>Here is what i have done chasing this problem in no particular order:<br>- drain gas tank refilled with TruFuel 40:1 (seemed to help a little)<br>- rebuilt carburetor with kit (twice)<br>- new spark plug<br>- new fuel filter<br>- tried loosing gas cap<br><br>Anticipating your comments<br><br>Thanks,<br>Todd K.</p>
<p>I have a tiller, a Bolens BL425 that I have recently replaced the spark plug and carburetor. I can only get this to run with the plug wire disconnected. It sparks just fine, but with the wire fully connected it won't run longer than a second. It seems like there might be an exhaust leak near the plug, but I can't tell for sure, it could be coming from inside the plastic case. Any help on this would be appreciated.</p>
<p>I am not sure how an engine runs with the plug wire disconnected. I found a photo of your model tiller and can see the location of the carburetor. Is the muffler on the backside facing the operator? Can the exhaust leakage be coming from a leaking seam in the crankcase, or perhaps where the cylinder head bolts onto the crankcase? </p>

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