Engine Starting Problems :  

Engines Index  |  Home

 Engine Starting and common issues
Initial Start Procedure
To prime the engine, push the primer bulb on the carb until fuel shows in the return tube (yellow) - this ensures fuel is reaching the carb. Turn choke lever to vertical closed position (aka ‘choke on’). Pull starter cord until the engine tries to start – there will be a distinctive pop sound. Then stop. Open the choke (ie. turn choke off / aka ‘no choke’) – turn lever back to horizontal position. Pull starter cord – engine should start within the next few pulls. Do not turn the ‘choke on’ again and continue to pull – otherwise you may risk flooding the engine.
The above procedure is for a cold engine. Once the engine is warm (or in warm weather) – the choke should be left in the horizontal position (choke off), otherwise there may be a danger of flooding the engine.
Engine flooded
A common problem and easily done. These motors run on air/fuel vapour and any pooled fuel in the cylinder, as a result of; over pulling, excessive throttle use during start up procedure, choke left on during starting etc, will inevitably result in a flooded motor. The more the cord is pulled without it firing, the more fuel is being loaded into the lower end.
Remove spark plug – check if tip is wet. Plug may be fouled in which case it will need replacing.
De-flooding- With the spark plug removed, open throttle to max (WOT), no choke, pull starter cord 10-20 times to clear out any fuel that has accumulated in the engine (do this with care to avoid splashes to face etc – and of course avoid smoking / naked flames during the process). Turning the Baja upside down (with assistance if necessary) will aid in removing any fuel in the crankcase.
Also make sure any fuel that may have entered the pipe is drained out. Move the piston TDC, and tilt the Baja backward (wheelie style) to allow any fuel to drain out of the engine, through the exhaust port and out of the end of the pipe.
Leave the plug hole open to allow surplus fuel to evaporate from the cylinder. Leave for at least hour or longer dependant on temp (preferably overnight). Install a NEW plug and repeat start up procedure. Prime the carb. Remember to turn off the choke after the ‘pop’ otherwise you will just flood the engine again. Do not pump on throttle on tx. The car should start after a few pulls.

A badly flooded engine can be a real pain to start – be persistent with the de-flooding procedure.
Holding the throttle at WOT during pull-starting may also bring the engine back to life.
Loose bolts
Check that all bolts are tight, eg air filter/carb/manifold – exhaust. Loose bolts can easily result in too much air entering the fuel/air mix resulting in a lean seize (see below).
Checks should also include cylinder bolts and spark plug, ignition coil bolts (behind fan cover)
Air filter – Dirty or Wet?
Ensure air filter is regularly maintained. Clean and oil correctly and at intervals according to your terrain and frequency of use.
If you have hosed down your Baja make sure no water is clogging the filter and choking your engine of air. Always protect the air filter & carb with a suitable covering and remove radio box / electronics prior to a hose down.
Allow all parts to thoroughly dry, particularly areas such at the coil, flywheel which may have become wet. Also check the exhaust pipe for water.
Ensure the filter is not over oiled choking the engine.
Ignition Coil Gap / Flywheel
Check gap – should ideally be around 0.3mm /business card thickness.
After a hard roll, or knock the coil may have slipped resulting in a poor spark.
Loosen the two screws that hold the coil in place, slide a business card between the coil and the flywheel, carefully adjust the coil so it ‘just’ grips the card, then tighten the screws and remove the card.

Also ensure that the Woodruff Key (HPI#15431) is correctly seated in the crank shaft slot – it may even be missing after a rebuild and will affect timing.
Check coil is in working order and the plug wire is intact and connected properly (particularly if changed for an aftermarket one). If possible borrow another coil to eliminate this as a possible cause.
Gas Cap – blockage
Slowly open the gas cap, a hiss may be heard as the fuel vapour escapes. Leave the gas cap loose and try to start the engine.
If its starts - Check vent hole is not blocked.
An open vent hole is required to allow the pressure inside and outside of the tank to remain fairly equal.
A blocked hole will cause a pressure differential to form, and may lead to an undesireable rich or lean condition.
A postive pressure inside the tank would increase the fuel supply (by forcing more fuel through the lines), resulting in a rich condition, leading to potential bogging.
A negative pressure would result in less fuel supply reaching the engine, resulting in a lean condition - higher RPMs.

Clean out hole as necessary with a pin. Ensure all gas cap rubber internals are correctly seated.

Solution Option

Consideration may be given to eliminate the gas cap vent by installing an aftermarket kit such as the SnappyRc 'Ultimate Fuel Tank Kit'. Since the kit allows the tank to breathe through a check valve fitted to a third 'air' fuel line which exits adjacent to the exitsing fuel lines, the hole in the gas cap to be made redundant and suitably plugged. This of course also eliminates the potential for gas cap leaks.
Spark Plug Fouled / Check Spark
Replace plug with a NEW one. Can easily occur when fuel mix is too rich. New plugs can occasionally be bad out of the box – try another new one if in doubt and as a double check.
A spark plug check can be carried out in the following manner; remove plug from engine, reconnect the spark plug into the plug boot, touch the plug thread to the engine block or exhaust header, pull-start and check if plug is firing. NB. Even though a spark may be visible, it may not be strong enough to spark under compression.
Following a roof landing, check that the spark plug is not cracked/damaged. Aftermarket spark plug covers are recommended to give some measure of protection from such occurrences.
No fuel to engine
Check gas tank has fuel. Fill up as necessary.
Prime carb bulb by pressing (pumping) it a few times till you can see fuel in the return fuel line.
Check fuel lines for awkward bends/kinks blocking free low of fuel.
Ensure the fuel lines have been connected to the carb correctly. Black is the supply tube to be connected to the lower carb nozzle. The return tube connects to the top nozzle.
Check that the ‘clunk’ fuel filter is not clogged.
Carb issues
Check and maintain carb regularly. Disassemble, check for blockages, clean micro screen filter as necessary.
Replace carb – many issues that cannot be traced can be simply solved by replacing the carb.
It is recommended to keep a spare carb in your toolbox. Also check the stock carb intake manifold for cracks.
Carb Needle Settings
Return High (H) speed & Low (L) speed needles to factory settings. Close both needles (turn fully clockwise). Then slowly open (turn anti-clockwise) each needle as follows; H – 1.5 turns, L-1.25 turns.
Turning needles clockwise (close) will reduce the fuel, ie leaner. Turing them anti-clockwise (open) will increase the fuel, ie making the mix richer.
(Refer to the Tuning Guide)
Idle Screw
The idle screw, located below the H & L needles may require adjusting. Turn it clockwise to increase the rpm & vice versa. Set it to increase the rpms and repeat the basic start procedure.
Leaks / Gaskets
Is there poor compression? Are the rpms excessively high even after adjusting needles? Check for tears, leaks in gaskets. A gasket leak can result in a loss of compression and/or improperly mixed fuel and air (which may contribute to a lean seize – see below). More air (and less fuel) will lead to increased RPMs.
If the engine can be started, if only for a short while, spray carb cleaner or WD40 (preferably using a fine tube attachment for targeted use) around the gasket areas where a leak might be suspected, eg intake manifold. A sharp increase in idle speed may indicate a leak. Replace gaskets as necessary
Also inspect fuel lines for splits/leaks. Check the carb intake manifold - the stock mainfold material can develop cracks causing a leak
Kill switch - stock
Is the kill switch button stuck in? Inspect as necessary. Dirt can get underneath the red rubber cover causing the switch to stick in the pressed position, thereby not allowing the engine to start. Temporarily disconnect it to eliminate it as a possible cause. If it starts up, the engine can be killed by plugging the exhaust pipe or turning choke on.
Might as well check the wiring and connections to the ignition coil while you’re in the vicinity.
Kill switch - electronic
Check the switch is not active – preventing the engine to start. Ensure the 3rd channel tx setting is set to a momentary style of activation (as opposed to a press-on, press-off type – it may be that its simply on).
Disconnect the 3rd channel kill switch, and try restarting under stock conditions. If it starts – carefully check switch set up. Though rare, faulty 3rd channel kill switches do occur – confirm correct installation procedure, tx set-up and operation with your switches manufacturer/supplier. Often it is incorrect set up which is at fault rather than the product.
Make sure your linkage is set correctly.
NB. The black plastic finger push on the stock linkage is a good method to manually open your throttle a little during the start up procedure, if required. It can also easily be fitted to the Yamadude linkage to aid starting.
Piston Ring / Compression Check
Remove fan cover and spin flywheel by hand – if it spins easy, it may be that the piston ring requires replacing.
Take a teaspoon or two of 2 stroke oil and pour down the spark plug hole. Holding the Baja, swirl it so that the oil coats the inside of the cylinder to form a seal between the cylinder wall & piston, albeit temporarily. This seal will aid compression and may get the engine running - though this may be short lived (if it starts at all) if there is an issue with the pistion ring or flaking of the cylinder wall. After replacing the plug, follow the start up procedure, initially without the 'choke off'. If a distinctive pop is heard, and after the engine eventually starts, it again requires oil to start, a replacement ring is probably required. Make sure the piston ring is installed correctly (it is a directional fit).
Excessive exhaust smoke and the odd fouled plug may be encountered during this process.
If no success, more checks, as listed in this table may be required.

Further Info
Originally Posted by EarthSurfer 
Checking the condition of your parts should ensure you have the compression the engine is suppose to have.

1) check the cylinder plating for damage. Clean the oil out of the cylinder, and check out the plating for scratches (can have a few, with no performance loss) or the plating peeling off like wall paper. Both of these plating failures happen only on CY cylinders, not zen cylinders. You can clean up the plating with 600 grit sand paper to remove the old tarnish, get a better look at any plating damage that may exist.

2) As the ring on the piston wears, the "end gap" gets bigger. Zen states a max spec of the ring end gap at .5mm (.020"), and brand new, they should have a small gap of about .003 or .004". To check the end gap, take the used ring off the piston, and use the piston crown to push the ring into the cylinder nice and straight, just above the exhaust port. (note the dirty side of a used ring faces up on the piston and in the cylinder, and the end gap should be positioned like it would be on the piston--near the intake rib). The gap of the ring in while installed in a good cylionder can now be measured with a set of feeler gauges. If the ring has shiney wear all the way around (indication a good seal all the way around), the end gap is good, and the plating is good, the compression should be OK. For info - the G230 size engine has the lowest compression.

One more thing to look for. Look for burnt oil on the piston sides under the ring. This burnt oil may be a indication that you are getting "blow by" (hot exhaust gas blowing by the ring, and burning oil to the side of the piston). If you only see some burnt oil at the exhaust port side of the piston, it is probably just the pipe hoilding hot exhaust gas against the piston near TDC, which is not blow by.
Lean Seize
Two stroke engines can lean seize in seconds if they are running too lean, ie too much air in the fuel/air mix.
Did the engine stop suddenly at close to, or at WOT? Remove exhaust pipe header from engine block and check piston for score marks – a tell-tale sign of a typical lean seize. If unsure, pull head and inspect piston, cylinder wall and ring for wear. Check for anything else that may clearly look out of place, e.g. piston pin clip dislodged, dirt/sand entry, cylinder plating.
Install new piston (top end etc) and / or ring as necessary.

Make sure the needles are set on the richer side, (ie more open), rather than leaner side – then follow the tuning guide instructions. Often the richer the mix, the easier it is to foul the spark plug.
In addition to inspecting gaskets, also check for holes in the gas intake line and for any cracks to the intake manifold (which connects the engine to the carb). Any cracks here, as well as loose bolts, may also contribute to a lean seize. An upgrade to a billet manifold will pretty much eliminate this as a potential issue.
NB – its is always wist to retune your carb after fitting a new pipe – stock settings maybe too lean.
Exhaust blockage
If the exhaust pipe is blocked the engine will not start. Ensure exhaust is not obstructed by debris or capped/plugged intentionally to reduce fume odours (e.g. following maintenance indoors)
Fuel mix / age / contamination
Ensure fuel mix ratio is 1:25 (ie 1 part 2-stroke oil:25 parts unleaded petrol)
Use fresh fuel. Avoid using old fuel that has been lying stagnant for several weeks. Always thoroughly shake any unused fuel mix. Check fuel for contamination, eg water, dirt/mud in fuel tank or clogged ‘clunk’ fuel filter

Further Reading