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13 Reasons a STIHL Edger Won’t Start: FIXED

A STIHL edger won’t start due to a wrong choke setting, plugged air filter, plugged fuel filter, clogged fuel line, dirty carburetor, plugged fuel tank vent, plugged spark arrestor, bad spark plug, faulty starter recoil, wrong fuel mixture, or old gasoline.

The STIHL engine may be flooded causing your starting problem. Keep reading for additional items that can prevent the edger from starting.

Follow all safety precautions found in your STIHL operator’s manual. This includes removing the spark plug wire and waiting for all parts to stop moving 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.

This is Why Your STIHL Edger Won’t Start

1. Choke Knob is in the Wrong Position

The choke knob is used to engage to the choke and restrict airflow to the engine. This is required to start a cold engine.

If the choke isn’t placed in the right position, the edger will not start.

SOLUTION: Set the choke knob in the closed position when the engine is cold. If the engine is already warm, the choke knob must be in the open position.

Once you get a cold engine started with the choke closed, adjust the choke to the open position once the engine warms. The engine will die if you don’t make this adjustment.

2. Plugged Air Filter

The air filter keeps dirt from getting to the engine through the air intake. It only takes a small amount of dirt or debris to cause irreversible engine wear and damage.

When the air filter isn’t cleaned or replaced regularly, it may become so clogged with dirt. Sufficient air isn’t able to pass through the filter causing the edger to fail to start.

To avoid this problem in the future, check the filter’s condition monthly. Remove the filter and clean it using the steps listed below. Always replaced a very dirty or damaged filter.

NEVER run your STIHL edger with a very dirty air filter or without an air filter.

SOLUTION: Remove the air filter cover and clean or replace the air filter. If the air filter is so dirty that the edger fails to start, you should install a new air filter.

How to Clean a STIHL Edger Air Filter:

  • Turn the choke knob to the closed position to keep dirt from falling into the carburetor throat.
  • Remove the air filter cover.
  • Remove dirt from around the air filter.
  • Remove the air filter.
  • Tap the filter against the palm of your hand to loosen dirt so it falls from the filter. Use an air compressor if needed. If the filter is very dirty or damaged, replace it with a new one.
  • Install the air filter.
  • Reattach the filter housing.

3. Bad Spark Plug

The spark plug is another maintenance item that should be replaced annually to keep your STIHL edger running at its best. When the spark plug is fouled, it may not provide the spark required to start the engine.

SOLUTION: Before removing the spark plug, wipe around the plug to remove all dirt and debris. Remove the plug and check its condition. Replace a spark plug that is very dark in color, has signs of wear, or is damaged.

You can attempt to clean a mildly dirty spark plug with a wire brush and reuse it. I prefer to replace it. It is an inexpensive part and one of the primary items responsible for keeping your STIHL edger running.

Check the electrode gap and make sure it is set to STIHL’s specification. Install the spark plug and securely attached the spark plug wire.

If you need to continue to work on the edger, remove the spark plug wire and continue with the repairs.

4. Incorrect Fuel Mix

Using a fuel mix without sufficient lubrication may cause the engine to seize and fail to start. Never add straight gas to a STIHL edger.

It is a sure way to damage an engine and possibly result in having to spend money to purchase a new edger.

STIHL 2-Cycle Gas to Oil Mix

All STIHL edgers require a gas-to-oil mix ratio of 50:1. This is the same requirement for STIHL 2-cycle engines and STIHL 4-MIX engines.

Gas to Oil Ratio1 Gallon Gas2 Gallon Gas2.5 Gallon Gas
50:12.6 oz Oil5.2 oz Oil6.4 oz Oil
STIHL Edger Gas-to-Oil Fuel Mix

When creating the oil and gas mixture, use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 89 (mid-grade) and maximum ethanol content of 10%. Add a premium 2-cycle engine oil like STIHL High Performance or STIHL HP Ultra.

Mix it in an approved gas can before adding it to your edger’s fuel tank.

2-Cycle STIHL Premixed Fuel

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 edger’s fuel tank.

You won’t have to deal with the bad effects of ethanol as discussed in the next section. Also, it’s convenient to have fuel available on your shelf when you need it.

STIHL MotoMix Premixed Fuel is a good 50:1 option.

SOLUTION: Drain the fuel tank and fill it with the correct gas-to-oil mix. If you continue to have problems, have a small engine mechanic diagnose the problem and determine whether a cost-effective repair can be made.

5. Old Fuel

Old fuel left in a STIHL edger can leave behind sticky deposits and varnish. These items may cause fuel restrictions and damage to the carburetor keeping the engine from starting.

Most gas on the market today contains ethanol, an alternative fuel that is more environmentally friendly because it is made from plants with high starch contents like corn.

While ethanol may be better for the environment, it is not kind to the small engine used on your STIHL edger. This product naturally attracts moisture from the air causing premature corrosion and fuel restrictions.

Because of this, always use unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 89 (mid-grade) and maximum ethanol content of 10% (E10).

Never use E15 or E85 in the engine as this will damage the engine and most likely void manufacturer warranties. These fuels contain up to 15% and 85% ethanol respectively.

Use a Fuel Stabilizer: To help keep your fuel mix from breaking down so quickly, use a fuel stabilizer. Many 2-cycle oils include stabilizers including the engine oil mixes sold by STIHL.

STIHL recommends consuming fuel within 30 days and no longer than 60 days when using a fuel stabilizer.

Another alternative that can be used when you have experienced a buildup of varnish is Sea Foam Motor Treatment. This product not only stabilizes gas, but it also cleans the fuel system and reduces moisture.

SOLUTION: Drain old fuel in your edger. Create a gas and oil mix in a fuel container. Add Sea Foam Motor Treatment to the mixture.

Add the fuel mixture to the edger and allow the edger to run so the mixture works its way through the system.

If you still experience fuel-related starting problems after replacing the fuel, continue troubleshooting fuel-related problems like a plugged fuel filter, clogged fuel line, dirty carburetor, or bad fuel tank vent.

6. Bad Primer Bulb

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

If the primer bulb appears in good condition and it still won’t fill, check for a clogged fuel filter or fuel line.

SOLUTION: Replace with a new primer bulb.

7. Clogged Fuel Filter

The fuel filter used on a STIHL edger can be found in the fuel tank. This filter is used to strain fuel before it enters the fuel pick-up tube. It is designed to keep dirt and debris out of the fuel system.

Just like the air filter, the fuel filter can become plugged when it isn’t changed out regularly. I recommend replacing the fuel filter at least once a year while checking it periodically.

If you find your fuel is dirty, you may need to drain the fuel tank, fill it with fresh fuel and replace the fuel filter.

When the fuel filter becomes clogged with dirt, it will restrict the amount of fuel that can flow through the filter and into the fuel lines. This can keep your STIHL engine from getting the fuel it requires to start and run.

SOLUTION: Locate the fuel filter inside the fuel tank and replace the plugged filter. Replace the fuel if you find it dirty as well.

  • Wipe around the fuel cap to remove any loose dirt so it doesn’t fall into the fuel tank once you remove the cap.
  • Take note the filters placement so you install the new filter in the some position.
  • Gain access to the filter. A clean bent or needlenose pliers work well to pull the filter out of the tank.
  • Remove the old filter from the fuel line. Be careful not to lose the retaining ring securing the line to the filter.
  • Install the new fuel filter securing the fuel line to the filter using the retaining ring.
  • Place the filter back inside the fuel tank and reinstall the fuel cap.

8. Clogged Fuel Line

Old fuel sitting in your edger can leave a gummy sticky deposit behind that restricts fuel flow. This can clog the fuel line and restrict the fuel flow your edger requires to start.

SOLUTION: Replace a fuel line on your STIHL edger when it is cracked, kinked, or clogged.

9. Plugged Fuel Tank Vent

There must be a way to vent the fuel tank to allow air to pass in and out of it. Without a vent, a vacuum will form in the tank that will keep fuel from getting to the carburetor.

STIHL uses a small fuel tank vent part to allow the tank to vent. When this part is clogged your edger will begin to run sluggish and possibly die.

A good indication you may have a fuel tank vent problem is when your STIHL edger runs for a short period and then runs sluggishly and shuts down.

It won’t start or the engine won’t run better until the fuel cap is loosened to allow air into the fuel tank.

When you tighten the cap and allow it to run and the string edger dies and fails to start until the cap is loosened, you most likely have a fuel vent problem.

SOLUTION: Replace a plugged fuel tank vent.

10. Dirty Carburetor

The carburetor regulates the amount of fuel that is mixed with air to create combustion. 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 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.

Depending on the model and age of the edger you use, the price of a carburetor, and the cost of labor, it may be best to invest in a new edger rather than put money towards replacing a carburetor on an old edger.

11. Bad Recoil Starter

Your STIHL edger uses a recoil to start the engine. A bad pulley; loose or missing spring, or broken clips can keep your starter 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. Plugged Spark Arrestor

You will find a spark arrestor in your STIHL edger that can prevent it from starting. The spark arrestor is a small screen installed on the muffler to prevent hot materials from shooting out of the edger causing burns or a potential fire.

The spark arrestor can get plugged with soot. When this happens, the edger will fail to start.

SOLUTION: Disconnect the spark plug boot. Let the muffler cool. Remove the spark arrestor screen cover, gaskets, and spark arrestor from the muffler. Clean the screen with a wire brush to remove the soot. Reinstall.

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

13. Flooded STIHL Edger

I have had customers bring their edger 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 edger so the engine gets the correct fuel-to-air ratio required to start and run.

Start a Flooded STIHL Edger Option 1:

  • Turn the choke knob to the off/open position.
  • Hold the throttle trigger lockout and throttle trigger down while placing the slide control in the start position to place it in the starting throttle position.
  • Pull the starter rope. This can take anywhere between 10 and 20 pulls before it starts. Your chainsaw engine will sputter first. Continue to pull 2 to 3 more times and it should start.

Start a Flooded STIHL Edger Option 2:

  • Place the slide control in the stop position.
  • Remove the spark plug.
  • Pull the starter rope 6 to 8 times.
  • Reinstall the clean dry spark plug.
  • Start the chainsaw with the choke knob in the off/open position.