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13 Reasons a Makita Leaf Blower Won’t Start (Troubleshoot)

A Makita leaf blower may not start when it isn’t getting sufficient air, fuel, and spark.

This could be due to bad fuel, plugged fuel filter, a clogged fuel line, a bad primer bulb, a dirty carburetor, plugged fuel tank vent, plugged air filter, plugged spark arrestor, a bad spark plug, or a faulty recoil starter.

Keep reading for more information on why your Makita leaf blower won’t start. It could be something as simple as the engine being flooded.

Take all safety precautions before performing repairs including removing the spark plug wire.

Leaf blower won't start

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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.

This is Why a Makita Leaf Blower Has a Starting Problem

If you haven’t replaced the maintenance items in a while, it’s good to begin by replacing them. These are the air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug.

1. Plugged Air Filter

One of the items required to keep a Makita leaf blower running at its best and prevent dirt from contaminating the engine is the air filter.

A leaf blower creates some pretty dusty conditions. This dust can plug the air filter creating an air restriction when enough air isn’t able to pass through the filter. This lack of air can keep your blower from starting.

An air filter is an essential item to run on your leaf blower. NEVER operate the blower without one. Doing so will cause dirt and debris to wear on the engine and cause permanent damage.

SOLUTION: Replace a dirty air filter.

  • Remove the air filter cover and the filter.
  • Wipe out any remaining dirt from the air filter housing. Be careful to keep dirt from falling into the air intake.
  • Replace a dirty filter with a new air filter.
  • Install the air filter and filter cover.

I recommend replacing your air filter annually. The maintenance doesn’t stop there. It’s important to check it periodically throughout the year to clean the filter and replace it when needed.

2. Bad Spark Plug

A damaged or dirty spark plug can keep your leaf blower from starting. A plug that is covered in oil and carbon; has a burnt electrode, or cracked porcelain needs to be replaced.

If you do get your mower to start, but it still runs sluggish, a dirty spark plug could be the problem. A dirty spark plug can cause it to misfire.

SOLUTION: Clean or replace the spark plug.

  • Wipe around the spark plug.
  • Use a socket wrench to remove the spark plug.
  • Inspect the spark plug condition.
  • Replace the spark plug if it is damaged, worn, or very dirty and dark in color.
  • You may attempt to clean a spark plug that is a little dirty and in good condition with a wire brush and reuse it.
  • Check the spark plug gap using a spark plug gap tool or feeler gauge. The gap for most Makita leaf blowers should be 0.024″-0.028″ (0.6 mm – 0.7 mm). Consult your operator’s manual.
  • Install the new or cleaned spark plug.
  • Securely attach the spark plug wire once you are done with all maintenance and repairs.

A plug with an incorrect electrode gap or a wire that is loose can also cause your starting problem.

3. Plugged Fuel Filter

Just like the air filter is designed to keep dirt from entering the air intake, the fuel filter is designed to keep dirt from entering the fuel system.

This filter can become plugged when running dirty fuel or failing to replace the filter regularly. When the filter becomes clogged, the lack of fuel getting to the engine will prevent your Makita leaf blower from starting.

This is another maintenance item that should be changed at least once a year and more often if you find you have been running dirty fuel.

SOLUTION: Replace the fuel filter.

  • Wipe around the fuel cap to remove any loose dirt and debris.
  • Remove the fuel cap.
  • Locate the fuel filter inside the fuel tank.
  • Take note of placement in the tank to ensure the new filter is placed in the same position.
  • Use a clean metal wire or needle nose pliers to pull the filter out of the tank.
  • Remove the old filter.
  • Attach the new filter to the line.
  • Install the filter inside the tank.
  • Attach the fuel cap.

4. Incorrect Oil Mix in a 2-Cycle Makita Leaf Blower

Using straight gas in a 2-cycle leaf blower will cause the engine to seize up and die once you run the fuel through the engine.

Straight gas doesn’t have the lubrication a 2-cycle requires from a gas and oil mix. Straight gas is a quick way to ruin a good leaf blower.

The 2-cycle engine in a Makita leaf blower requires a fuel mix consisting of gas and oil mixed at a ratio of 50:1. A 50:1 mix equals 50 parts gasoline to 1 part oil.

When creating this mix, use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 89 (mid-grade) and maximum ethanol content of 10%.

Add a 2-cycle premium oil that is ISO-L-EGD and JASO M345 FD certified. Mix it in an approved gas can before adding it to your leaf blower.

SOLUTION: Drain and add fresh fuel mix to your 2-cycle Makita leaf blower.

  • Wipe around the fuel tank cap to remove loose dirt and debris.
  • Remove the fuel cap.
  • Drain old fuel into an approved fuel container.
  • In another fuel container, add gas and oil at a 50:1 ratio.
  • Install the fuel cap on the container and gently shake the until the fuel is mixed.
  • Add the fresh fuel to the fuel tank.
  • Reattach the fuel tank cap.

If you continue to have problems, have a small engine mechanic diagnose the problem and determine whether a cost-effective repair can be made.

2-Cycle Premixed Fuel for Makita Leaf Blowers

A great option to reduce fuel problems and extend engine life is using an ethanol-free fuel mix. This is an ethanol-free blend of oil and fuel that is ready to pour into your leaf blower’s fuel tank.

You won’t have to deal with the bad effects of ethanol as discussed in the fuel section. Also, it’s convenient to have fuel available on your shelf when you need it. ECHO provides a good 2-cycle premix.

2-Cycle Gas to Oil Mix for Makita Leaf Blowers

Mixture1 Gallon2 Gallon2.5 Gallon
50:12.6 oz5.2 oz6.4 oz
2-Cycle Gas-to-Oil Mix for Makita Leaf Blowers

5. Incorrect or Insufficient Engine Oil in a 4-Cycle Makita Leaf Blower

First of all, don’t mix the oil and gas together if you use a 4-cycle Makita leaf blower. There are separate fill ports on a leaf blower with a 4-cycle engine.

One fill port for gas and one fill port for oil. NEVER use a 2-cycle oil in a 4-cycle blower. Good air-cooled engine oil works best.

SAE 10W-30 engine oil is required to keep the engine components lubricated. When the wrong type or not enough oil is used, friction can build in the engine and overheat causing your leaf blower not to start and possibly ruin the engine.

SOLUTION: Check the engine oil level and replace the oil if it is due for an oil change or if you are using the wrong oil.

Note: When running your leaf blower in very cold or very hot temperatures, you may have to adjust the viscosity to your ambient temperature.

  • Check the engine oil level on a Makita blower.
    • Place the blower on a level surface.
    • Wipe around the oil cap to remove loose dirt and debris.
    • Remove the oil cap.
    • The engine oil should be at a level between the upper and lower level indicators in the tank.
    • Add fresh oil if the blower is low on oil. Don’t overfill.
    • Replace the fuel cap.
  • Drain & replace the engine oil on a Makita blower.
    • Place the blower on a level surface.
    • Place a container below the oil drain bolt to collect oil.
    • Wipe around the oil drain bolt and oil cap to remove loose dirt and debris.
    • Remove the drain bolt and gasket and allow the oil to drain into the container.
    • Remove the oil cap to allow the oil to flow faster.
    • Once all oil is drained, replace the drain bolt.
    • Wipe any oil spilled on the blower.
    • Fill with fresh oil until it is between the upper and lower level indicators in the tank.
    • Replace the oil cap.

If you continue to have problems, have a small engine mechanic diagnose the problem and determine whether a cost-effective repair can be made.

6. Old Fuel

Fuel sitting in your leaf blower for extended periods of time can begin to break down quickly. When using straight gas, you should consume it within 30 days or add a fuel stabilizer if you don’t go through fuel this quickly.

Fuel additives sold today have different time periods for how long the fuel will be stabilized. It can last anywhere from 30 days to up to 2 years.

Don’t assume that just because you add a fuel additive it will keep the fuel stable for a long period. Follow the time frame provided by the fuel additive manufacturer.

Old fuel attracts moisture and can leave behind a gummy residue that restricts fuel flow to the engine. Always use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 89 and a maximum ethanol content of 10% (E10).

Ethanol is not good for the small engine on your Makita leaf blower so the lower the ethanol content the better.

Using gasoline with ethanol contents greater than 10% like E15, E30, and E85 fuels will damage the engine and most likely void manufacturer warranties.

From experience submitting warranty requests for carburetor damage from several manufacturers, it’s rare to get a manufacturer to cover a carburetor when the leaf blower was purchased over 90 days prior

This is because of the damage using the wrong fuel and incorrect storage procedures can cause. The warranty covers manufacture defects and not damage due to using the wrong gas or oil.

SOLUTION: Drain any old fuel remaining in your leaf blower and fill it with fresh fuel.

  • Wipe around the fuel tank cap to remove loose dirt and debris.
  • Remove the fuel tank cap.
  • Drain old fuel into an approved fuel container.
  • Prepare fuel for the Makita blower in another approved fuel container. This is gas and oil fuel mix for a 2-cycle engine or straight unleaded gasoline for a 4-cycle engine.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer like Sea Foam Motor Treatment to the fuel container. This is to stabilize the fuel, clean the fuel system and reduce moisture in the fuel.
  • Install the cap on the container and gently shake to mix fuel with the fuel additive.
  • Pour the fresh fuel into the fuel tank.
  • Reattach the fuel tank cap.

7. Bad Primer Bulb

A cracked primer bulb that won’t fill up with fuel won’t function correctly to get fuel to the carburetor for starting the leaf blower.

SOLUTION: Replace with a new primer bulb.

8. Fuel Line Blocked

Old fuel sitting in your leaf blower will develop gummy deposits that will clog the fuel line and restrict fuel flow. You may also get a kink in the fuel line that can prevent the engine from getting the fuel it requires to start.

SOLUTION: Replace a fuel line in the leaf blower when it is cracked, kinked, or clogged.

9. Plugged Fuel Tank Vent

The fuel tank vent allows air into the tank. Without a vent, the fuel tank will create a vacuum that won’t allow fuel to flow through the leaf blower.

A good indication you may have a fuel tank vent problem is when your leaf blower runs for a few minutes and then shuts down and won’t start until you remove the fuel cap to allow air into the fuel tank.

It then runs sluggish and shuts down again after running for several minutes with the fuel cap in place.

SOLUTION: Replace the fuel cap so the air can flow into the fuel tank. The fuel tank vents through the fuel cap.

10. Dirty Carburetor

The carburetor regulates the amount of fuel that is mixed with air to create combustion in the cylinder. Old fuel will gum up and clog the carburetor so it no longer functions properly.

SOLUTION: If you are a little mechanical you should be able to handle cleaning your carburetor. Clean the Makita carburetor by taking it apart and using carburetor cleaner to clean it.

If the carburetor does not function after being cleaned, you may need to rebuild it or replace it with a new carburetor.

11. Bad Recoil Starter

A Makita leaf blower uses a recoil to start the engine. A bad pulley; loose or missing spring; or broken clips can keep your recoil from working.

SOLUTION: You can attempt to replace the spring and restring the recoil.

If it does not work because other components in your recoil are damaged, such as the clips or the pulley, you are better off just replacing the recoil assembly.

12. Bad Spark Arrestor in a Makita Leaf Blower

You will find a spark arrestor in your leaf blower that can prevent it from starting. The spark arrestor is a small screen that can get plugged with soot.

SOLUTION: Disconnect the spark plug boot. Remove the engine cover and engine exhaust cover. Remove the spark arrestor and clean it with a wire brush to remove the soot.

If you are unable to clean it sufficiently or it is broken or has a hole in it, replace it with a new spark arrestor.

13. Flooded Makita Leaf Blower

I have had customers bring their leaf blower to the repair shop because they can’t get it started. Many times it’s due to a flooded engine which isn’t too serious.

The engine can become flooded when the choke is in the closed position and the starter rope was pulled many times allowing too much gas into the carburetor.

It can also happen with the switch off and the starter rope being pulled multiple times or when the primer bulb is pushed too many times.

SOLUTION: Use the following procedure to “unflood” your leaf blower so the engine gets the correct fuel-to-air ratio required to start and run.

Start a Flooded Makita Leaf Blower Option 1:

  • Place the switch in the on/run position.
  • Move the choke lever to the run/open position.
  • Set the throttle lever at high speed.
  • Continue to pull the starter handle until the blower starts

Start a Flooded Makita Leaf Blower Option 2:

  • Place the switch in the stop/off position.
  • Remove the spark plug.
  • Pull the starter rope 6 to 8 times.
  • Reinstall the clean dry spark plug.
  • Start the blower with the choke off and in the open/run position.
  • Pull the starter handle until the blower starts.