Diesel Small Engine will not start - Starter System Advice

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Firstly, is it the Starter or the Engine?

If you have an Electric Start generator, and cannot get it to start, the first thing to diagnose is whether it is your Electric Start system or the Engine at fault. If you attempt an electric start, and it is unsuccessful, it’s worth trying to manually start the generator. If it will start manually it’s likely a problem in the Electric Start system – In this case, it would be a good idea to contact our Engineers below by beginning an engineering ticket (bottom of the page).

If you suspect the problem is engine related Click this link to go to our Engine Problems section.

If you find that the unit is backfiring, or kicking back on the recoil, the Valve clearances probably need adjusting.

We list all the Valves settings on our website under the Valves and/or Cylinder Head parts listings. Please see our Parts System to look up the clearance settings for your particular machine, or contact us below.

What is happening when you attempt an Electric Start?

If you can start your engine manually using the recoil, then it is likely that you have a problem in the electric start system. Now the engine is ruled out, you can try another electric start and identify whether you have one of the most common starter problems. If during the Electric Start procedure you do not hear any sounds, or see any movement, when the electric start is engaged, you will need to check through the entire starting system.

  • If nothing happens, you need to firstly check the voltage of your battery. If it may be low through lack of use, charge the battery and try again. If a low battery keeps reoccurring, this could be either a faulty battery or a faulty Battery Charging Rectifier (BCR). Whilst running the generator, with the battery disconnected, test the voltage coming from the battery connectors. This should be around 13.5V, if it is significantly lower you will need to replace the BCR. If this voltage is fine, it is likely your battery is faulty and needs to be replaced.
  • If everything here tests fine, there is a possibility that you have a faulty Ignition Switch. You can test the switch for continuity, check the wiring as seen in your Generator Manual. If there is no continuity across the terminals for starting, the switch will need to be replaced.
  • If the Battery is charged and the Ignition Switch has continuity across the start terminals, but the Solenoid and Starter Motor do not move to engage with the Ring Gear, or make any noise, the Starter Motor is likely faulty, both may be broken and need replacing.
  • If instead you hear a clicking sound, this could still be a low battery effect, however, if the battery voltage is close to or above 12V then it is likely the Starter Motor and/or the Solenoid that are at fault. The Solenoid instructs the Starter motor to move into place, if the starter motor doesn’t move to engage with the Ring Gear, you will hear the Solenoid repeatedly clicking – in this case the Starter Motor will need to be replaced. 


If you believe you have any other Electric Start problems, please contact our Engineers below.

Ask Roary

Need any more advice?

Spanner Driver Answer

No, I’m ready to start repairing, help me find Starter System parts.

Spanner Driver Answer

No, I’ve got it. Thanks for your help!

Spanner Driver Answer

Yes, I need help and information from an Engineer.