Honda GCV160 Surging Issue – Fixed

For many homeowners and professionals who rely on their trusty Honda GCV160 engine for tasks, experience surging issues when they take out their machines after 5-6 months!

You start the engine and instead of the smooth performance you’re accustomed to, it unpredictably gains and loses power. It’s as if your engine is gasping for breath. (Which is exactly what’s happening btw)

The Quick Answer: More often than not, the primary cause of surging in a Honda GCV160 engine is a clogged carburetor. Fortunately, addressing this is straightforward: you’ll need to give the carburetor a thorough cleaning.

Almost 90% of the time if you clean your carb properly, your problem is solved! How? When your engine is surging, you can be sure that it’s most probably getting the spark to ignite the fuel-air combo but the engine is not getting the right amount of Air-Fuel mix to be burnt in the 1st place.

Why Does the Engine Surge?

In the world of engines, surging is like a hiccup.

Imagine you’re enjoying your favorite soda, but there’s a tiny, barely noticeable hole in your straw. The result? You’d get spurts of soda and lots of frustrating air bubbles. That’s essentially what your engine’s doing when it surges.

Engines love a good balance of Air and Fuel. They crave a precise mixture, to happily go about their combustion business. The carburetor is like the bartender of this engine party, ensuring that the mix is just right.

But, here’s the catch. Sometimes, the carburetor gets clogged. Dirt, old fuel residues, or the tiniest of debris can throw off this mix.

In a Nutshell: A clogged carburetor disrupts the ideal fuel-air balance. This imbalance causes the engine to alternate between gas-rich and gas-lean moments, leading to the roller coaster of power known as surging.

I must emphasize though, sometimes it’s not the carburetor that’s the culprit! In rare cases, the gas cap is not properly vented, which disturbs the air pressure inside the Gas tank. In such a case, you’ll find the GCV160 works fine for a few minutes before it shuts off.

In the end, the reason for surging is improper air-fuel mixture!

How Does the Fuel Line Work on Small Engines?

So now you know the issue is related to fuel and air. You need to know how the fuel line works to get to the bottom of it:

  1. Fuel Tank: The journey starts in the fuel tank. It holds the gasoline which feeds the engine. When the fuel goes out of the tank, it is replaced b air through the fuel cap vents, improper vents can cause the engine to shut down.
  2. Fuel Line: This is the hose or tube that transports gasoline from the tank to the carburetor. Over time, old fuel can leave residues that might cause blockages.
  3. Carburetor: The main player. It’s responsible for mixing the right amount of gasoline with air. If the carburetor is clogged, the mix won’t be right. Dirt, debris, and old gasoline residues can block its tiny jets and passages.
  4. Engine: With a proper mix of air and fuel from the carburetor, the engine can operate smoothly. If the mix isn’t right, it reflects in the engine’s performance, such as surging.

How to Clean the Carb

It is easier to understand from the video tutorials on youtube, the carb is behind the Air-Filter, so you’ll need to remove the air box, followed by removing the throttle arm and fuel hose.

Once you have the Carb out, you can blow Carb cleaner & Air Compressor (If Available) through every hole.

In case your engine is surging in idle condition, you need to take out the pilot/idle screw and pilot/idle jet and spray some carb cleaner through them. You can also take a very fine wire and run it through the holes.

But in any case, I suggest you take the main jet, pilot jet, and Needle jet out and spray the carb cleaners through them all. I also suggest not changing the Throttle stop screw position, and if you do, then remember to put it back in place!

What to do if Carburetor Cleaning doesn’t fix it

If Carb cleaning and Gas Cap Vent cleaning, do not help the situation, I would suggest looking for 2 other things – Auto-Choke System and the Throttle Cable (more specifically, the springs in the throttle cable).

The GCV 160 Auto Choke system is very interesting in how it works! It has a shaft surrounded by thermo wax, as the engine warms up the shaft gets pushed outwards which is connected with a system that pushes the choke valve open.

It is possible that the choke isn’t working, and this is leading to your engine working with the choke on all the time, which could possibly be causing the sputtering.

In Conclusion

Regular maintenance and ensuring the use of fresh fuel can prevent many common issues, including surging. If you notice your Honda GCV160 or any other small engine behaving irregularly, always start by inspecting the carburetor. Clean it properly, and more often than not, you’ll have your engine running smoothly again.

Leave a Comment