The carburetor is essential to keep your zero-turn running by regulating the fuel-to-air mixture released to form a combustion in the engine cylinder.
A carburetor can become dirty from running old fuel. Old fuel can leave behind gummy and crusty buildups that can clog the components in your carburetor restricting fuel flow.
Symptoms of a Bad Zero Turn Carburetor
A bad carburetor can no longer regulate the amount of fuel it releases to mix with air to form combustion. These are some of the symptoms you could experience:
- Zero turn won’t start
- Zero turn backfires from running lean
- Zero turn engine sputters and runs rough
- Zero turn engine surges
- Zero turn mower consumes too much fuel
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Follow all safety instructions provided in your equipment operator’s manual before diagnosing, repairing, or operating. Consult a professional if you don’t have the skills, or knowledge or are not in the condition to perform the repair safely.
10 Steps to Clean a Zero Turn Lawn Mower Carburetor
You don’t want to take your carburetor apart if you don’t have to. Do a few troubleshooting steps to isolate your problem with the carburetor. First, make sure you are getting good fuel flow to the carburetor. Follow the tips in this article to check fuel flow.
Once you confirm you are getting fuel to the carburetor, remove the air filter from the air filter housing. Spray carburetor cleaner into the air intake. If your mower starts, runs well, and then shuts down, there is a good chance your carburetor needs to be cleaned, rebuilt, or replaced.
Gather Items to Clean a Zero Turn Carburetor
- Socket/ratchet set
- Carburetor Cleaner
- Thick wire
- Needle nose pliers
Take Photos of Your Zero Turn Carburetor
While you don’t have to take photos, I highly recommend it. There are so many small parts you are disassembling when cleaning your carburetor. It’s a good idea to pull out your cell phone and take several photos before and during the tear-down process.
You’re better off having the photos and not needing them than getting stuck during the reassembly because you can’t remember where a certain part attaches. Good mechanics do use photos for reference.
Shut Off the Fuel Supply on Your Zero Turn Mower
Stop fuel from flowing through your zero-turn. Do this by using the fuel shut-off valve located at the bottom of your fuel tank. You can also use some hose pinch-off pliers to crimp the fuel line and stop the flow.
Remove the Zero Turn Throttle and Choke Cable
Detach the throttle and choke cables from your zero-turn’s carburetor.
Remove the Air Filter Housing from Your Zero Turn Mower
Remove the hardware attaching your carburetor to the air filter housing so it is no longer attached.
Remove the Springs from Your Zero Turn Carburetor
Take the springs off the carburetor. Do this slowly as you don’t want to stretch the springs. If the springs do get stretched, you will need to replace them. You may have to twist the carburetor a bit to get the springs to release from the carburetor.
Be careful when removing the carburetor from the engine block. There is a gasket located between these items. If you tear the gasket, you will need to replace it with a new one.
Remove the Bowl from Your Zero Turn Carburetor
The bowl is located on the bottom of your carburetor. This is the area that stores a little bit of fuel so have a rag ready to soak up any fuel remaining in the bowl. Remove the screw located at the bottom of the bowl and remove the bowl.
You will find a gasket, that looks like a rubber band, located between the bowl and the carburetor. Be careful not to get any carburetor cleaner or other solution on this gasket or you will have to install a new one.
Check & Remove Clogged Holes in the Stem of Your Zero Turn Carburetor
There is a stem that hangs down from the center of your carburetor. Use a flashlight to locate the holes in the stem. These holes can become clogged from old fuel. Take a thick piece of wire and slide it through these holes to unclog them.
Remove & Clean Gumming and Crusty Buildup in Your Zero Turn Carburetor
Check all your carburetor components and remove gummy and crusty buildup using carburetor cleaner and a clean rag. Make sure your float and needle move freely. You won’t be able to get all the crusty material out of your carburetor. Just remove as much as you can.
Reassemble Your Zero Turn Carburetor
Once you have finished cleaning your zero-turn mower’s carburetor and made sure all of the components are in good working order, it is time to reassemble it.
Complete the steps in the reverse order you took it apart. Use the photos you took during the disassembly process for reference.
Cleaning Your Zero Turn Carburetor is Unsuccessful
Are you still having problems after cleaning your carburetor? You may need to rebuild or replace it if you are definitely sure your problem lies with the carburetor.
Not confident your running or starting problem is the fault of your carburetor, check out my articles below for more information on your zero-turn. You can also take your mower to your local lawn mower repair shop to be diagnosed.
This may be the best option if you’ve just been throwing parts at your mower hoping it will fix it. This can get quite expensive.
- Zero-Turn Lawn Mower Problems & Solutions
This is a great reference to bookmark and keep on hand to quickly identify items you should check on your zero-turn when you encounter a problem. This guide directs you to more in-depth guides to help you repair your mower.
- Reasons Your Zero-Turn Isn’t Getting Fuel
A guide to point you in the right direction when looking for a fuel restriction.
Always Use Fresh Gas with a Fuel Stabilizer in Your Zero Turn Mower
To minimize the effects of running old gasoline through your gas-powered zero-turn mower, always use fresh gasoline with a fuel additive to stabilize it.
Using an additive like Sea Foam Motor Treatment is safe for your mower. It not only stabilizes the fuel, but it also reduces moisture and cleans the fuel system. Read more about why I prefer using Sea Foam here.