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Tiller Repair Service
Tillers make it easier to turn the soil and incorporate soil amendments. If the wheels or tires on your rear-tine or front-tine tiller won't turn, or the engine runs rough or won't start, use the DIY troubleshooting advice provided below to fix the problem.
Why won't my tiller's engine start?
A dirty carburetor, bad gasoline, failed spark plug or broken recoil starter can prevent the tiller engine from starting.
Follow these troubleshooting tips to fix the problem.
Replace the Gasoline in the Fuel Tank
Stale gas won't start the engine. If you left gas in the fuel tank during the winter without adding fuel stabilizer, drain the tank and fill it with fresh gas. Add fuel stabilizer to gas to keep it fresh during the off-season.
Clean or Replace the Carburetor
Bad gasoline can clog the carburetor. You may need to clean or replace the tiller engine’s carburetor so the engine will start.
To test the carburetor, follow these steps.
- Remove the air filter.
- Spray a short burst of starter fluid into the carburetor.
- Reinstall the air filter.
- Try to start the tiller engine.
If the engine starts briefly and then dies, you’ve eliminated all other possible failures that could be preventing the tiller from starting. Because the engine starts briefly and then dies, the carburetor is likely clogged.
Follow these steps to clean the carburetor on your tiller’s engine.
- Wear work gloves to protect your hands. Move the tiller to a well-ventilated area. Disconnect the spark plug wire so there's no chance that the tiller engine could accidentally start.
- Release the spring clamp that secures the fuel supply line to the fuel tank. Disconnect the fuel supply line from the fuel tank and drain the fuel from the fuel tank into an approved container.
- Remove the two mounting screws securing the silencer plate to the top of the carburetor and remove the silencer plate.
- Remove the two cap nuts that secure the air cleaner housing and the carburetor to the carburetor mounting studs. Remove the mounting bolt from the top of the air cleaner housing.
- Disconnect the vent hose from the valve cover. Pull the air cleaner housing off of the carburetor.
- Disconnect the throttle rod and governor spring from the carburetor.
- Remove the carburetor and disconnect the fuel line from the carburetor.
- Place the carburetor on a clean work surface. Using the carburetor rebuild kit for your tiller engine’s carburetor, clean and rebuild the carburetor. Remove the fuel bowl mounting nut. Pull off the carburetor fuel bowl and gasket. Slide the float pin out and remove the float and float valve. Unscrew the main jet. Dump the main jet and emulsion tube out of the central column. Remove the plastic throttle stop and then pry the plastic metering plug out of the carburetor. Spray carburetor cleaner into the carburetor body, fuel bowl and all of the small brass orifices in the carburetor. Wipe the carburetor and fuel bowl clean with a clean shop towel. Reassemble the carburetor using the parts from the rebuild kit.
- Reinstall the carburetor and reassemble the tiller engine by reversing the disassembly steps above. Reconnect the spark plug wire.
Replace the Spark Plug
A dirty spark plug won't ignite the fuel to start the engine. Examine the spark plug and replace it if it’s coated with deposits or oil. You’ll also need to replace the spark plug if it’s damaged.
Complete an Engine Tune-Up
Instead of just replacing the spark plug, you may need to perform a complete engine tune-up. In addition to replacing the spark plug, an engine tune-up includes replacing the engine oil and cleaning or replacing the air filter. If you tiller has a fuel filter, you’ll also need to replace that part during the engine tune-up.
Tuning up the engine or the other troubleshooting tips above can fix an engine starting problem. If you still can’t start the engine after following these steps, have the tiller serviced by a professional.
Tiller Tines won’t Turn
The first thing to check when tiller tines won’t turn is the condition of the tine clevis pins. The clevis pins are shear pins that connect the tines to the rotating tine shaft. The clevis pins are designed to shear off if the tines hit a fixed object during cultivation to prevent damage to the engine and other tiller components. Replace broken tine shaft clevis pins to restore tine rotation.
If the clevis pins are okay, a problem with the clutch cable or the drive belt could be preventing the tines from spinning.
Follow the directions in your owner’s manual to check and adjust the clutch cable.
Check the condition of the drive belt and replace the belt if it’s worn or broken.
If the clevis pins, clutch cable and drive belt are all okay, then a bad transmission could be preventing the tines from spinning. Replace the transmission to fix the tiller.
Why do my Tiller’s Tines Turn but the Wheels Don’t Move?
If the wheels on your tiller don't turn but the tines do, you may need to adjust the clutch cable or replace the transmission.
If the tines turn when tilling soil but the wheels don't move, you'll likely need to replace the transmission because the tiller clutch cable is properly tensioning the drive belt to spin the transmission pulley but the transmission isn't driving the wheels.
If the tines spin when they're above the soil but stop when you lower the tines into the soil, then you may need to adjust the clutch cable so it properly tensions the belt to engage the transmission pulley. Replace the clutch cable if it's damaged.
When these troubleshooting tips don’t help you fix a problem with your tiller, have a professional service technician examine and repair the tiller. You can schedule service for your tiller at ServiceLive.
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