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Pressure Washer Can't Pull Starter Cord Or Won't Start, What Now?

Gas pressure washers are powerful tools for cleaning various surfaces like siding, wood, decks, and fences efficiently. However, encountering issues like the engine not starting or the cord being difficult to pull can be frustrating and common. Many of these problems can be diagnosed and fixed with some troubleshooting techniques. In this article, we'll explore common reasons why a gas pressure washer might experience these issues and how to address them effectively.

Check Fuel and Oil Levels:

The most basic step in troubleshooting a gas pressure washer that won't start is to ensure it has enough fuel. Check the fuel tank to ensure it's filled with fresh gasoline. After that, confirm that the oil level is sufficient and hasn't degraded. Low or dirty fuel/oil can impede engine startup.

Old vs fresh engine oil
Old vs Fresh Engine Oil

Verify Choke and Throttle Positions:

Improper positioning of the choke or throttle can prevent the engine from starting. Make sure the choke is in the correct position for starting, typically in the closed position. Adjust the throttle as well, usually start lower and raise the throttle after the pressure washer has started.

If this doesn’t work, try putting the choke in a variety of positions before moving on. Sometimes pressure washers can prefer a half-choke or some other variation if they are running hot.

Inspect Spark Plug:

A faulty or dirty spark plug can mess with ignition, causing the pressure washer engine not to start. Remove the spark plug and inspect it for signs of wear, damage, or carbon buildup. Clean or replace the spark plug if necessary.

If the pressure washer won’t start but the cord can be pulled, use the typical method of checking a spark plug. This involves removing the spark plug from its socket and placing the metal tip about a centimeter from some metal, pull the starter cord and see if a spark is created between the spark plug and the metal. If this does not happen, your spark plug should be swapped out for a new one.

Clean Air Filter:

A clogged air filter restricts airflow to the engine, affecting combustion and preventing startup. Remove the air filter and inspect it for dirt, debris, or damage. Clean or replace the air filter as needed to ensure proper airflow to the engine. Ensure the cap to the air filter has been fully closed as a partially open air filter case will lead to significant buildup.

Prime the Engine:

Gas pressure washers can sometimes feature a priming bulb to facilitate starting. If you have one, press the priming bulb several times to draw fuel into the carburetor and prime the engine for startup. If you cannot find this, double check with the manual to ensure one is not present. Many top-of-the-line pressure washers will not have a priming bulb but a lower-end pressure washer may.

Over-priming can sometimes flood the engine, and some engines prefer overpriming, so just follow the owner’s manual for the number of priming strokes if you are not familiar with the pressure washer.

Pull Cord Mechanism:

If the cord won't pull or is difficult to pull, it could indicate a mechanical issue with the recoil starter mechanism. Check for any obstructions or debris around the recoil starter housing that may be preventing the cord from retracting properly. Lubricate the recoil starter mechanism if it feels stiff or jammed.

If this doesn’t work, try removing the recoil starter completely. Sometimes there can be a fault with an internal spring which causes premature activation of a plastic arm and it can stop the recoil from fully extending.

Check for Engine Seizure:

In rare cases, a gas pressure washer engine may seize due to a lack of lubrication or overheating. This can occur from a lack of oil or putting a gas pressure washer on its side during transport. Attempting to pull the cord forcefully can worsen the situation. If the cord won't pull despite other troubleshooting efforts, it's possible the engine may be seized. Consult a professional for further diagnosis and repair. If it is a cheaper pressure washer, it may unfortunately be more affordable to replace than to repair.

Consult the Owner's Manual:

If troubleshooting steps fail to resolve the issue, refer to the pressure washer's owner's manual for specific troubleshooting guidance and maintenance instructions. Manufacturer-recommended procedures and safety precautions should always be followed.

Troubleshooting a gas pressure washer that won't start or has a cord that won't pull requires a smart and experience-driven approach to identify and address the underlying issues. If problems persist, seeking professional assistance may be necessary to diagnose and resolve more complex issues. Regular maintenance and proper care can help prolong the lifespan of a gas pressure washer and ensure it’ll be there when you need it most.

If you are a homeowner in need of a professional pressure washing service, reach out to EcoWash today.


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