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Image of a carburetor being worked on. Image of a carburetor being worked on.
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April 20, 2021

HOW TO CLEAN A CARBURETOR IN JUST 8 STEPS

How to clean a carburetor in just 8 steps

Carburetors are used on nearly all models of internal combustion engines. But did you know that it’s also the most commonly faulty component of all small engines? The carburetor is where the gasoline and air combine for combustion, powering the motor. The problem arises when an engine rests for an extended amount of time without being used, and the fuel starts to decay. If you spend the time to clean your carburetor but fail to replace the fuel in the tank, you’ve wasted your time.

Though most carburetors don’t look the same, they do share many of the same functions and components. Follow Rugged U's 8 simple steps on how to clean your carburetor.

Tools needed:

  1. Phillips screwdriver
  2. Flat screwdriver
  3. Needle nose pliers
  4. Wire brush
  5. Wrenches/socket set
  6. Supplies needed:
  7. Carb and choke cleaner
  8. Carburetor and parts cleaner (optional)
  9. Gasket set or carb rebuild kit (recommended)

Step 1: Remove the Carburetor

To get started, turn off the fuel valve on the fuel tank, then track the fuel line down to the carburetor and disconnect the hose. (If you need a new or replacement fuel shutoff valve, The ROP Shop has a few different options for you.) There will also be an overflow hose running out of the carburetor. Loosen the screws in the clamps at the front and back of the carb. You should be able to wiggle the carburetor loose. The throttle cable might keep the carb in place. By twisting the top cap, you can remove the throttle. The slide will stay attached when you unscrew it. The carburetor can now be removed at this stage.

Disconnect the throttle slide from the wire once you have uninstalled the carburetor. This may be a challenge. Once you’ve unhooked the cable, you should be able to take off all of the remaining pieces.

Diagram showing carburetor internal makeup. Diagram showing carburetor internal makeup.

Step 2: Remove the Float

The float is housed inside the lower portion of the carburetor and is the first item to be removed when cleaning. Unscrew the four screws on the bottom of the carburetor to detach the float bowl. After removing the float bowl, be careful not to mar the gasket if you have no plans to replace it.

PRO-TIP: These screws can strip easily.

Using a pair of needle-nose pliers, pull the float pin free. The float should simply lift out from there. Just note that in certain carburetors, the float will be hanging on the pin and both can be removed together.

Step 3: Remove the Jets

This stage can vary depending on the style of carburetor installed on your engine. Some have splash plates that needed to be removed to access the jets and float needle.

Jets are screws with a hole in the center, which allows the fuel to mix with the air. The main jet is short and stout, with either a hex or a flat screwdriver head. The pilot jet is long and slender and must be removed with a flat head screwdriver.

Step 4: Remove Outer Parts

Before we finally get down to cleaning, the last thing we need to do is remove the remaining parts from the outside. A flat head screwdriver should be used to detach the idle screw. It’s the larger screw that changes the engine’s idle RPMs, and can usually be found on the carb’s side.

Next, remove the air screw. This screw moderates the air that flows through the carburetor while the engine is running.

Remove the choke from the carburetor if possible.

A used carburetor on a concrete floor next to a screwdriver. A used carburetor on a concrete floor next to a screwdriver.

Step 5: Clean Parts

PRO-TIP: Remove all gaskets and O-rings before cleaning the carburetor and parts.

The simplest way to clean a carburetor and its components are to soak them in carburetor and parts cleaner, you will want to use enough to where the parts are completely submerged. This method isn’t very cost-effective, so you might want to do the following instead.

PRO-TIP: As a safety precaution, be sure to wear protective glasses and gloves.

First, scrub the parts thoroughly with a wire brush, then spray them with carb and choke cleaner. Make sure you get the cleaner into the holes that housed the jets, air and idle screws, float needle, and choke, as well as the inner holes of the jets themselves. To ensure that the jets are clear, shine a light through them. If the jets aren’t fully clean, blowing compressed air into the hole will help blast out any leftover debris.

Once the carburetor and all components are clean, it’s time to dry them. When they’re completely dry, put the o-rings and gaskets back in the carb, or install new ones. You will find The ROP Shop has a great selection of new gaskets and O-rings.

Step 6: Install Jets

Install the jets in the reverse order that they were removed.

Step 7: Install Outer Parts and Float

Begin by mounting the carburetor’s outer pieces. The choke should be re-installed first, followed by the air mixture screw and idle screw.

When installing the air mixture screw (the long, skinny one), thread it all the way in, then back it out a turn and a half. This is the starting point or baseline; after the engine is running, you can change it so that the engine idles properly.

The idle screw should be threaded in just enough to keep it in place. The baseline change will come later.

Next, install the float. Line up the pinholes in both the carb and the float, then insert the pin. The pin will move freely; just make sure it’s centered. To ensure that the float needle is functioning correctly, move the float up and down. If the needle moves freely, you’re in good shape. If the needle becomes trapped in the upward-facing position, it must be replaced.

Using the four screws that we carefully removed earlier, secure the float bowl to the carb.

Step 8: Install the Carburetor

Reattach the throttle slide onto the throttle cable. To do so, the throttle cable through the top cap of the carburetor and add the spring. Insert the needle into the slide, press the spring down, and hook the cable end into the slide. Make sure the slot in the slide is in line with the idle screw before sliding it into the opening. Once they’re aligned, insert the throttle slide and screw the top cap on. Look down any hole of the carb and screw the idle screw in to create a baseline. Do so until the slide begins to raise up, then screw in half a turn.

Maneuver the carb back into the rubber boots. Tighten the clamp screws to lock the carburetor in place. Reconnect or install the new fuel and overflow lines to the carburetor.

Finally, adjust your air and idle screws while the engine is running. Turn the idle screw in if you want to raise the idle rpm. To provide a richer mix, turn the air screw out, and to lean out the mix, turn it inward.

When All is Said and Done

If you get through all these steps and still find that the carburetor is not running as you expected, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help you find a compatible replacement carburetor, and it’s likely that we carry the one you need. In the end, it’s our goal to help you Stay Rugged.

WHO SAID CARBS ARE BAD FOR YOU?
WE CARRY CARBURETORS AND CARB PARTS FOR EVERYTHING FROM MOTORCYCLES TO MOWERS
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