Red riding lawn mower on lush green grass

How to Clean a Lawn Mower Carburetor

Summertime is finally here! The weather’s good and your lawn is growing, so it’s time to get outside and make all that green grass look its best. But after months of disuse, your lawn mower isn’t running smoothly. If it’s difficult to keep it running without stalling, there could be a problem with your lawn mower carburetor.
Old Lawnmower
Before you resort to replacing the carburetor, you can try cleaning it to see if the problem resolves. Cleaning a lawn mower carburetor is a great maintenance DIY project. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Find the Carburetor

The location of your lawn mower’s carburetor will determine whether you need to remove it in order to clean it properly. This is something you’ll have to eyeball. You’ll most likely need to remove it, which is an easy job.

Step 2: Inspect the Carburetor

Once you’ve located the carburetor, look for what might be causing the issue. What you’re looking for here is greasy deposits or maybe even corrosion. Corrosion is possible if you left ethanol fuel in the lawn mower’s tank over the winter.

Step 3: Spray the Carburetor With Cleaner

Grab a can of carburetor cleaner — an aerosol cleaning solution that instantly dissolves gunk and corrosion. Try spraying it into the carburetor from the outside to see if that will get the job done.

Step 4: Take the Carburetor Apart to Clean It

If you’re comfortable with a bit more work and your ability to put things back together without some leaving unexpected spare parts at the end, take the carburetor apart using a screwdriver, pliers and socket wrench — exact sizes will depend on your mower. Then, spray each individual piece and wipe them all down before reassembling.

All told, cleaning your carburetor might take an hour or two, but it’s better to be thorough. A solid cleaning job will keep your lawn mower’s carburetor in the best shape possible and ensure there are no hidden problems. You likely won’t need to do it again for quite some time.

Try to make cleaning your carburetor part of your regular lawn mower maintenance schedule. Plan to do this every year when taking it out for the first time in the spring or summer. It beats having to do it unexpectedly at some point in the year when you can’t spare the time, your grass is too high or you’re just trying to get the lawn done. You can also reduce the likelihood of corrosion buildup by storing the lawn mower with an empty tank during the winter.

Carburetor cleaning is a good DIY skill to have, and once you’ve done it, you’ll probably consider it more a pride-of-ownership ritual than a chore from then on.

Check out all the carburetor and choke cleaners available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on lawn mower carburetors, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

about author

Mike Hagerty

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of MikeHagertyCars.com, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and losaltosonline.com. Previous outlets have included KFBK and KFBK.com in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and BBCCars.com.

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