Spring and summer are the seasons of the small engine vehicle. It is during these months that the lawn mowers, landscaping equipment, and golf carts get their heaviest use. It is also during this time of year that they get the most attention. These vehicles can last for many seasons over many years when properly cared for. These engines need proper attention on a regular basis so that their performance can be maintained or fixed quickly before they evolve into bigger and more serious issues. There will be times when issues with the engine cannot be fixed by simple maintenance or small fixes. When this happens, a complete overhaul or replacement of the engine may be necessary.
It is important that the owner of one of these small engine vehicles check all other possibilities before overhauling or replacing the motor all together. Odd sounds in the engine or less than ideal performance can be fixed with oil or other fluid changes, carburetor fixes, or a thorough cleaning.
The following are signs that your engine needs serious help, and may require overhauling or reporting.
Excessive noise when the mower or cart is running is the first sign that something is wrong. Knocking or banging can be caused by a worn out engine or a piece that has worn out or is about to. Don’t jump the gun, however. Noises happen. Investigate the engine through regular maintenance to see if these noises are new, understandable or fixable before going down the replacement or overhaul route. Unusual sounds may be fixed quickly. Persistent noises are signs of repair or replacement.
According to Samuel M. Goldwasser of Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ, broken, damaged, or bent engine parts are a strong indicator that an overhaul is needed. These types of problems may cause your mower or cart to fail to start. If the engine is able to turn over and start, damaged parts may cause vehicle shaking or vibration. Some damaged engine parts may be possible to replace separately. Major pieces, however, may require a complete engine overhaul.
Low compression is caused by low oil levels or strain on rings, valves or gaskets and will result in the inability to start or keep a vehicle started. Like an automobile, failure to remain started is a clear indicate that there are problems related to the starter system and/or engine cylinders. Low compression, according to Goldwasser, may not require a complete overhaul, however, but may require replacement of the rings or cylinder head.
Overhauling a mower or cart is something that some people are comfortable doing on their own. For those that feel boring holes into cylinders and carburetors is a daunting task, repowering your small engine with a small engine replacement kit may be a better alternative to overhauling your small engine vehicle yourself. These kits are rebuilt, higher powered small engines that come with all the necessary replacement parts and clear instructions for installing it. Either will save you money in comparison with replacing the entire piece of equipment, but one may be easier and more efficient than the other.
~ Ben Anton, 2008
Ben Anton works for Labworks Design, a Northwest website design firm. The Repower Specialist site is dedicated to supplying the most complete small engines repower kits for golf carts, greens mowers and other course maintenance small engines.