The Honda engine on your pressure washer requires air, fuel, and spark to start and run. When you begin to experience a starting problem, look for items that keep spark from igniting an air and fuel mixture.
A dirty carburetor, bad spark plug, faulty ignition coil, plugged air filter, incorrect engine oil level, faulty starter recoil, sheared flywheel key, or old fuel may cause your Honda starting problem
Keep reading for additional items that may be the reason your Honda pressure washer won’t start.
Stay safe when making repairs and follow the safety guidelines listed in your operator’s manual. Always remove the spark plug wire before performing repairs.
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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.
Reasons for Your Honda Pressure Washer Starting Problem
1. Empty Gas Tank
Obviously, a gas-powered Honda pressure washer requires gas to start and keep running. You already know this.
I only mention checking the fuel supply in the tank just in case you skipped this step and moved on to other items on the pressure washer.
You may have developed a fuel leak or your fuel gauge is not working right. You may have simply forgotten to add fuel before it ran out.
I only mention this obvious cause of a starting problem because it’s easy to forget when you’re frustrated.
SOLUTION: Add fresh gasoline to the fuel tank. Do not completely fill the tank. Leave a little area in the tank to allow for fuel expansion.
2. Bad or Old Fuel
It’s important to consume gas within 30 days of purchase. This is because gas can begin to break down and negatively affect the fuel system.
Ethanol, found in most gasoline used today, attracts moisture to the fuel system. As this ethanol and water mixture evaporates it leaves behind a varnish that can cause component failure and fuel restrictions.
In addition to deposits left behind by this mixture, water in the fuel system is corrosive to the fuel system and engine.
Because of the adverse effects ethanol has on a Honda pressure washer, it’s important to keep these things in mind when purchasing, storing, and consuming fuel:
- Purchase fresh fuel with a minimum 87 octane rating (91 RON).
- Never use gas with more than a 10% ethanol content. Ethanol-free fuel is best.
- Consume fuel within 30 days.
- Use a fuel stabilizer if you cannot consume it within 30 days to make it last a little longer without breaking down. (Fuel stabilizer must be added to fresh fuel. It will not reverse the effects of old fuel).
- Store fuel in an approved fuel container away from moisture or combustible products.
SOLUTION: If you find old fuel in your Honda pressure washer, drain the fuel using a fuel siphon pump. Mix fresh gas with a fuel additive to help clean the fuel system, reduce moisture, and stabilize the gas.
Add gas to the fuel tank. Once you are able to get the pressure washer to start, allow it to run so the gas and stabilizer mixture is able to work its way through the fuel system.
3. Dirty Carburetor
Your Honda engine uses a carburetor to regulate the amount of gas that is mixed with air to start the pressure washer.
When the carburetor is dirty and gums up from old fuel, components in the carburetor no longer function properly. Fuel passageways may become clogged restricting fuel.
The carburetor may not allow the gas required to start your Honda pressure washer.
After you have verified you are getting fuel to the carburetor, you need to take a look at the carburetor. This is a common part that can gum up and leave behind crusty deposits from old gas.
SOLUTION: Remove the carburetor and clean it with a carburetor cleaner to remove varnish and deposits forming in the carburetor.
Take a look at the Honda carburetor float, float needle, and fuel jets to make sure they are sufficiently clean and in good condition.
If you find any damaged parts, you must replace them using a carburetor rebuild kit or a replacement carburetor.
4. Plugged Air Filter
An air filter is installed to keep dirt and debris from entering through the air intake. This is to protect the engine from damage.
You must always run an air filter on your pressure washer and check the filter several times throughout the year to clean it and ensure it is in good condition. Running your pressure washer without an air filter can void the warranty on the engine.
I recommend replacing the air filter annually and cleaning it a few times throughout the year for the average homeowner.
When you notice the filter is extremely dirty or damaged, you must replace it. You will definitely need to replace it more often if you are running the pressure washer in dry dusty conditions.
If you are not cleaning and replacing the filter regularly, the filter can become plugged with so much dirt that the engine won’t get sufficient air. It can overheat and cause extensive permanent engine damage.
SOLUTION: If you find your air filter is plugged, clean it using the procedure below for a paper primary air filter and foam pre-filter.
Consult your operator’s manual if a different type of air filter is used on your Honda pressure washer.
Clean a pressure washer paper air filter:
- Remove the air filter from the housing.
- Remove the foam pre-cleaner.
- Wipe out any dirt remaining in the air filter housing and cover. Don’t allow dirt to fall into the air intake.
- Inspect the paper air filter. Tap the filter to loosen dirt so it falls from the filter. If the filter is very dirty, damaged, or no longer seals the air intake sufficiently, replace it with a new one.
- Wash the foam pre-filter in mild detergent and water solution. Rinse to remove dirt and soap. Squeeze and allow to dry. (Never apply oil to a foam pre-filter as this will damage the paper filter).
- Install the paper air filter and foam pre-cleaner.
- Reattach the air filter cover.
5. Bad Spark Plug
A spark plug can be faulty when the tip is dirty, the porcelain is cracked or the electrode is burnt. This will cause your pressure washer not to start because of a lack of spark.
You must also confirm the spark plug gap is correct and spark plug wire is securely in place. These items can also affect starting of your Honda pressure washer.
SOLUTION: You can clean the spark plug to remove the deposits on the tip. If your spark plug tip is very dark in color or damaged, you must replace it with a new one.
Your spark plug needs to be properly gapped following the manufacturer’s specifications as found in the operator’s manual. Securely attach the spark plug wire once you have completed all repairs.
6. Bad Ignition Coil
Before checking for a bad ignition coil, make sure your spark plug is in good condition. The ignition coil provides voltage to the spark plug so it can start the engine.
If the spark plug isn’t able to fire due to a bad spark plug or ignition coil, the engine will not start.
SOLUTION: Check the continuity of the ignition coil using an ohmmeter. If you find a break in the continuity, replace the ignition coil.
7. Low Engine Oil Level
The pressure washer will not start when the engine oil is not at the correct level. Many Honda pressure washers have a sensor that recognizes a low engine oil level.
This is to keep the engine from running to protect it from severe damage.
SOLUTION: To check the engine oil level, begin by placing the pressure washer on a flat-level surface. Remove the oil fill cap and wipe off the dipstick with a clean cloth to remove the oil.
Reinsert the dipstick into the oil-fill tube, but don’t screw on the cap. Remove it and look at the oil level on the dipstick. Ensure it is in the full range on the dipstick.
If it is not, correct the engine oil level by removing or adding a little oil until it is at the correct level.
When you find you have the correct engine oil level and the low oil sensor stays on, you may have a faulty sensor. It’s best to take the pressure washer to a Honda pressure washer dealer to be repaired.
8. Wrong Choke Setting
The choke lever or knob (depending on your Honda model) is used to open and close the choke to change the amount of air allowed to be mixed with fuel to start the engine.
The choke lever must be placed in the choke position to start a cold engine. Once the engine warms it must be adjusted to the open position so the engine receives enough air to keep running.
SOLUTION: Make sure the choke is placed in the closed position to start a cold engine and the open position to start a warm engine.
If you are still having problems with the choke, check the choke plate to ensure it is opening and closing correctly.
9. Bad Recoil on a Manual Start Pressure Washer
When the starter recoil wears or parts of the recoil break, it’s hard or impossible to get the pressure washer started.
The rope on the recoil can become unstrung or the pulley, springs, or clips may break causing your starting problems.
SOLUTION: Sometimes, restringing the recoil is all you need. Other times you will have to replace broken parts in your recoil. Before replacing parts, price out a full recoil replacement.
Depending on the price difference, it may be better to replace the recoil assembly over tearing it down and replacing broken components.
10. Broken Flywheel Key on a Pressure Washer
The flywheel key is a small part that is installed in the crankshaft to engage the flywheel. This key can become worn or sheared causing the timing to be off between the spark and the piston.
When this happens, the engine may not start.
SOLUTION: You may have to remove the flywheel to inspect the condition of the flywheel key. A sheared key must be replaced.
I recommend having a small engine mechanic perform work on your engine to ensure it is repaired correctly for safety reasons.
11. Engine Compression Problem
While pulling the starter recoil rope, you may notice a loss of compression. When the compression is low on a Honda pressure washer, it will fail to have enough pressure to keep it running.
This can be the result of worn crankshaft seals, worn piston rings, or damage to the piston.
SOLUTION: I advise bringing your pressure washer to a small engine mechanic or your local Honda engine dealer for testing and making necessary repairs.