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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Ontario, Canada

    Honda GCV160 won't run off the choke.

    Hello Everyone,
    I am the proud owner of a Honda push lawn mower, model HRR216KPDC with a GCV160 motor, engine serial number 1171976. I couldn't find the specific engine type on the net..
    This engine doesn't have the auto choke.
    Purchased new in May, 2001 in Ontario, Canada.
    This lawnmower has been brilliant, flawless and has had 0 problems in the 13 years I have had it.

    Up until 3 weeks ago...
    I was in the back yard trying to get under the bottom step going up onto a deck when the front wheels dropped into a small hole...the dogs had dug it out underneath a bit.
    It made a lurch noise, then stalled....
    I could pull the starter as much as I wanted to, it wouldn't restart. It would backfire once every 10 or so pulls, but it still wouldn't start.
    The pull itself didn't seem any harder then it was previously.

    Courage in hand, I bought tools and started taking it apart. I didn't have any mechanical experience at all...just tools, guts and a limited amount of common sense.
    Let's just say that I have gained more then a little experience now.
    I have hit this site, several others and every youtube video out there...

    What I did when I pulled it apart..
    -changed the oil
    -changed the gas,
    -changed the spark plugs,
    -yup, even changed the blades,
    -cleaned the carb...4 times. There was no sign of debris in it but cleaned, cleaned, cleaned it anyway,
    -installed all brand new gaskets.
    -Checked the gas lines, loosened the gas cap, cleaned the gas filter. all good.
    -pulled the flywheel off ..the sheer key under the flywheel looked fine.
    -pulled the case apart and verified the timing. The crankshaft looked straight to me.
    -Pulled the valve cover off. I visually inspected the rocker arms and belt.

    After all this, it started!!
    I don't know why it started because I had no real clue what I was doing. The whole week's exercise seemed to be a straight take apart/put back together with no changes.
    I guess I got lucky...sort of..

    Even though it is running, it will only do so on choke. It is a slow run..just enough that it won't stall, just run really, really rough.
    It sounds a rolling cough. If I try to get out of choke, it stalls.

    -I pulled the muffler and am seeing exhaust. I can't really tell if it is black or white...there is so little.
    -The brand new spark plug fouled pretty quickly..It was blacker then the old one that was in there 10 years.
    -I pulled off the valve cover again and checked the adjustment. it seemed good.
    -I sprayed the gaskets with carb cleaner when it was running to see if there was a compression leak...There was no change.
    -I cleaned the carb again and looked at the adjustment screws. I can only manage less then a quarter turn on the screw before it stalls in choke. The specs suggest I should be able to go 1.25 turns or so...
    -I adjusted the governor arm, but there is very little play in it. The pin is all the way to the right and the arm tight to it.


    I can't seem to debug this on my own now.
    Either I am fighting with the original problem I did to the motor when it got hung up or I messed up putting it back together and created something new...

    From what I have read, a dirty carb could stall an engine outside of choke. It was spotless but I cleaned it 4 times anyway. It just didn't make sense to me because a dirty carb doesn't happen by dropping a tire in a hole and I didn't think the carb could foul a plug like that.
    A bad piston (burning oil) would foul a plug but could a piston get damaged by dropping a tire in a hole? Could I have damaged it when I took apart the case?
    Could I have done something to the governor inside the case?
    Is there any chance a slightly bent crankshaft might cause this? I can't tell if it is. it is tough to tell if I have any weird vibration because the engine is running so slow.
    Is there any chance that the flywheel sheer key is sheared enough to cause this but the shear is not visible to the naked eye?? I have never seen a new key before, but this one doesn't look sheared to me.

    Do you have any other thoughts or suggestions?
    Your expertise is greatly appreciated.
    I can also post a video of it running, if that would help...

    Thanks for any help you can offer...


  2. #2
    Rokon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Way down in Diddy Wah Diddy
    Mower at my son's house :(

    Re: Honda GCV160 won't run off the choke.


    It appears a lot is going on here. Going off all you have done, it could be a valve slightly out of adjust, or some part of the carb/governor linkage out of sorts.

    Either way it may be time to confound a local mechanic. There is something amiss that needs a hands on look in my opinion.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Ontario, Canada

    Re: Honda GCV160 won't run off the choke.

    After letting this sit for a few weeks, a friend stop by to hear it last night.
    I noticed a couple of things.
    First, the pull cord is harder to pull then it used to be.
    Second, the motor seems to run with a 4 beat pattern. That is to say we can hear it make a sequence of the same noises that repeats at every 4 "beats". It was his guess this was a timing issue.
    Even though I thought I had the motor on top dead center when I fixed the cam markers, in a rookie move, I may have set it on the wrong part of the stroke.

    I didnt think it would run on messed up timing...but it would explain a tougher to pull starter cord, correct?

    I'll be taking it apart again tomorrow and watching my valve action and see if I can make sure I'm doing this on top dead center.
    I will recheck the valve spacing while I am at it.

    Any additional thoughts are most welcome.

    And on a side note, does anyone have any hints about working with liquid gasket? The stuff is a nightmare to put on and take is too runny and doesnt stay where I put it.. they should sell it with a 3 ml syringe with plastic tip to apply it properly.
    The biggest part of tomorrows "simple" job will be hour spent carefully scraping that crap off the OHC cover and case...
    ...for the third time . .

    Thanks for your help!!


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