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How to Fix a Rototiller: Five Quick Fixes For Your Garden Equipment

How to fix a rototiller

After leaving it sitting in the corner of the garage for three seasons, you may find yourself unintentionally neglecting your rototiller. Of course, when time comes to get that garden plot ready, either at the beginning or the end of the gardening season, you’ll expect it to run like a dream. If something goes wrong, though, do you know how to fix a rototiller? Fortunately, there are a few quick fixes that you can count on in a pinch to get your rototiller back up in running in as little as five minutes. Here are five quick fixes to get your rototiller back to tilling, instead of just taking up space.

1. My Rototiller Won’t Start

One of the most common problems, especially because rototillers often sit unused for months, is stale fuel or a clogged carburetor. If you know you have fresh fuel, you can check for carburetor blockage by spraying a small amount of carb cleaner into the intake and attempting to start the engine. If the engine sputters or even runs for a second, then you know you have a fuel problem. Buy a carburetor rebuild kit and carburetor cleaner that are suited for your rototiller’s make and model, and take a few hours to rebuild and clean it.

2. My Rototiller Starts, but Sputters Out

You could have a clogged fuel cap, which can prevent air from entering the gas tank. Loosen the gas cap a little and start the tiller again. If it starts and stays running, try cleaning or replacing the gas cap. A clogged carburetor could also be the problem.

3. My Rototiller Runs, but Doesn’t Move

If you have a belt-driven rototiller, check the drive belt for wear and proper tension. Make sure the idler pulley works with the handle and that it puts sufficient pressure on the belt. If the belt is worn or stretched, it is probably slipping. To fix this, replace the belt and adjust the tension.

4. My Wheels Are Turning, but the Tines Aren’t Turning

Most rototiller tines are not keyed to the shaft, but are instead locked to the shaft with a clevis pin. You can test this by shutting off the engine, unplugging the spark plug and attempting to carefully turn the tines by hand. If the shaft is turning, but the tines are not, the clevis pin could be broken or missing. Replace the clevis pin, but not with a bolt; the clevis pin shears off to protect the transmission in a way that a bolt may not.

tiller tines5. Everything Seems to Work, but It’s Just Not Tilling Like It Used To

This can most likely be linked to the condition of the tines, the condition of the soil or a combination of both. A slipping drive belt could also be the cause. If tines are bent, dull or worn off, you can replace them in a couple of minutes with replacement tines. If the soil is exceptionally hard, adjust the depth, and make multiple shallow passes to keep from overworking your rototiller.

Keeping spare parts, such as spare tines, drive belts and spark plugs, in your garage, as well as tools and cleanup gear will let you keep your rototiller in top shape for the next run through the garden. If you know how to fix a rototiller, you won’t have to spend time and money having someone else fix it, especially if it’s something simple.

Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on rototiller maintenance and repair, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Benjamin Jerew View All

Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.

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