How to Clean A Carburetor

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How to Clean a Carburetor

Clean Carburetor. © Matt Finley
There are a few reasons you may need to clean a carburetor. One of the more popular reasons is bad gas. Letting gas get old can cause a real headache when you try to start the motor.

If you don't run an engine frequently the gas can go bad. The gas inside the carburetor can thicken and cause the small parts to get stuck and not move. A good way to tell if your fuel system is running good is to give the ATV a ride-test during your after-storage maintenance routine.

Knowing how to take apart a basic carb and put it back together can save you time and money. It can save you time because you can do it in just a couple of hours. It can save you money because you won't have to pay someone else to do the work for you.

Most single barrel carbs are fairly similar in design so this method should work on most engine/carburetor combos. You'll know you need to clean the carburetor if the gas smells like lacquer thinner or turpentine or some other non-gas funky chemical odor.

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Remove the Air Filter

Remove the Air Filter. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
The first thing you'll want to do is shut off the fuel supply and disconnect the spark plug wire for safety.

Then take then air filter off, which is often behind or inside an air box. A wing nut is holding the filter down and comes out easily. Remove the outer element and clean it using a filter cleaner Yamalube Biodegradable Foam Air Filter Oil or compressed air.

Clean the seal areas and remove any sand or dirt or grease or...

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Remove Linkage and Hoses

Remove Linkage and Hoses from Carburetor. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
Remove any linkage and hoses. I suggest taking a few pictures along the way before taking things apart so you'll know how everything hooks up when you're ready to put it back together. Springs and such can be removed with pliers, hooks, screw-drivers or yeah, even a pencil.

Move everything out of the way without breaking or bending anything.

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Seperate Carburetor from Engine

Separate Carburetor from Engine. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
Remove the bolts/nuts that are holding the carburetor to the engine. Lightly shift the carb back and forth to break it loose and pull it off the studs taking note of gasket locations and orientations.

Plug any large openings you may end up with to prevent dirt and debris from getting in. Use a rag, paper towel etc to plug the hole.

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Clean the Outside of the Carburator with Compressed Air

Clean Excess Dirt and Sand with Compressed Air. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
The outside of the carburetor will have dirt and sand crusted on it. Blow off as much excess as you can and avoid blowing it into the openings.
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Remove Float Cover

Remove Float Cover. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
Get a small glass container to catch any gas that's remaining in the float. Remove the bolt at the bottom of the carburetor and remove the float cover by pulling it straight down.

Be careful not to spill the small mount of gas that is probably still left in the float.

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Remove the Float Pin

Remove the Float Pin. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
There's a pin that the float pivots on. Carefully pull it straight out. Be careful not to drop it, if it hits the ground it will likely bounce quite a ways away in an odd direction.
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Remove the Float

Remove the Float from the Carburetor. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
Carefully pull the float straight out. Carefully note how it came out. You might try putting it back together right now so you'll be more familiar with it.
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Remove Any Other Items

Remove Remaining Items from Carburetor. © Matt Finley, Licensed to
There may be other items on the carburetor that you should remove to allow access for cleaning. Note their locations and watch for springs.

Things like Idle Adjustment Screws may not need to be removed if they are mechanical in nature and on the outside of the carb body.

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Clean Carburetor Body and Parts in Degreaser or Solvent

Once all the major moving parts are off the carburetor you can clean it in a solvent bath. I suggest using something green like Simple Green.

Clean the dirt on the outside with a brush. Get as much off as you can, especially anywhere near an opening.

Clean the inside with a light stream of solvent or a VERY light burst of air. Make sure the tiny vents get cleaned. Clean the small parts in the solvent as well.

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Dry Carburetor and Re-Assemble

After everything is clean make sure you get all the cleaner out of the carb. Turn it all around and gently shake it. Use air to clear the fuel flow areas and air flow areas.

Once you've got it dried let it sit for a few to let it air dry completely. After you're confident it's dry start hitting your internet browser's BACK button to put everything back together.

You should run a small amount of clean, recent fuel through the tank and fuel line before attaching it to the carb to clean out any left over bad gas.

Once the carb is back together, mounted to the engine and has all the hoses and linkage re-attached, (and the plug wire is connected!) it's time to add some fuel and go for it. If everything goes well you'll be back up and running in no time.