Honda Motorcycles Carburetor Problems (Solved & Explained!) (2022)

The carburetor is one of those components that the typical motorcycle simply cannot do without.

Even as some newer models move to electronic injection, the majority stick with carburetors as the tried-and-tested method of mixing air and fuel and providing the engine the fuel/power it needs to push a motorcycle forward.

This article explains “most-common Honda Carburetor problems”…

Honda Motorcycles Carburetor Problems (Solved & Explained!) (1)

Table of Contents

How Does A Carburetor Work?

A carburetor takes in airflow and then uses the Venturi Principle to narrow the intake tube, decrease air pressure in strategic locations to draw fuel into the airflow to create the right mixture of air and fuel needed for the internal combustion process.

Pressure might drop by 5psi as it passes more quickly into the narrowed section of the pipe, which moves the fuel effectively without using complex injectors.

The Symptoms Of A Honda Failing Carburetor:

Honda still makes extensive use of high-quality carburetors, but even they can fail sometimes.

Luckily, we don’t have to be shocked by a struggling or failing carburetor because there are nearly always symptoms that one can detect.

On a Honda motorcycle, if your carburetor is failing, you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Reduction in engine performance
  • Sputtering
  • Black exhaust smoke
  • Overheating

Hondas are generally very reliable for starting no matter what, but if you’re out on the road and experience a loss in acceleration or a feeling of reduced power and performance, then this is quite likely caused by the carburetor, especially if it happens rather suddenly.

It doesn’t always take much to create blockages and buildups within the jets and other components, and that’s why one day the carburetor might appear fine but then symptoms appear the next day.

It’s important not to be alarmed by the emergence of this symptom or any other.

A Honda carburetor can invariably be restored to health after a good cleaning and inspection of the individual components.

(Video) How to diagnose a carburetor problem in less than 5 minutes

Another symptom that there is a carburetor problem is sputtering from the engine, which is caused when blockages make the air/fuel mixture too light.

Not enough fuel is being brought in, which means the engine doesn’t get enough power and it sputters as a result.

Conversely, the opposite can happen too on Honda carburetors, with too much fuel making it through

– caused by a big drop in pressure that drags more fuel than is intended –

which burns through your fuel quicker and leaves a trail of ugly black smoke in your wake.

Overheating can occur as a result of sputtering since it’s mostly connected with the engine not getting enough fuel.

As it does, it works harder to compensate, which causes it to overheat.

An overheating engine can cause irreparable damage, so you’ll want to take that symptom seriously.

Are Honda Carburetors More Prone To Fail Than Other Motorcycles?

No, they are not.

Honda motorcycles in general rank very highly for reliability among the world’s most popular brands.

It is second only to Yamaha for overall reliability.

Specifically, the carburetor is also extremely well constructed on all Honda models and while it does suffer some occasional difficulty, it is certainly not more prone to fail than other brands, in fact, quite the opposite.

The failure rate of Honda motorcycles and carburetors is only 12 percent.

That’s extremely low.

In contrast, Triumph has a failure rate of 29 percent and BMW 40 percent.

The most common reason for carburetor failure in the Honda can be traced back to a lack of proper maintenance and care for the unit, far more so than any other fundamental or technical failure on the part of the Honda carburetor.

(Video) Carburetor vs Fuel Injection - Why Motorcycle Riders Should Think Again

How Long Should A Honda Carburetor Last?

The carburetor is not listed among Honda’s wearing parts, although some of the smaller components within the carburetor were indeed more susceptible to wear and tear.

The carburetor unit can therefore be maintained to last the entire lifespan of the Honda motorcycle.

The key to a long-lasting carburetor is proper maintenance and specifically cleaning the carburetor, keeping the jets clear and the gaskets properly sealed and repaired.

When this is done well, there’s nothing at all that should shorten the life of the carburetor.

Indeed, many carburetors outlive their motorcycles, being collected when the bike is eventually scrapped and resold as used OEM Honda parts.

What Honda Models Are Likely To Have Carburetor Problems?

Honda has a very eclectic range of motorcycles, and among their huge range there are perhaps 5 models which are known for ever having some problems with the carburetor, and they are:

  • Honda VT
  • Honda Valkyrie
  • Honda Goldwing
  • Honda Foreman
  • Honda CB

The VT models are most affected by long periods of inactivity, which is unfortunate because many of them do only get used as occasional vehicles.

The way to deal with this kind of problem is by using preventative measures such as more regular riding or at least running the engine a little each day.

The Valkyrie uses 6 carburetors working together in perfect harmony, most of the time but it too suffers from “idling sickness.”

There are some riders who report that the jets get gummed up very badly when it’s left, say, idling over a winter.

The Goldwing actually tends to suffer mostly from problems after being cleaned.

It’s quite unique in that the most common carburetor problems are traced back to DIY riders who rebuild and reinstall the carburetor incorrectly after cleaning.

The Foreman ATV sometimes suffers from leaks.

The Foreman is an off-road vehicle and so goes through more ‘rough and tumble’ than the average vehicle. The result can be a suffering carburetor.

The Honda CB has had some issues with stalling and the throttle.

When the air/fuel mix runs too lean, the engine doesn’t get enough power, which leads to sputtering and then sometimes stalling while you’re idling or trying to set off after idling.

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What Are The Possible Causes Of A Honda Failing Carburetor?

If your Honda has a failing carburetor, the most likely cause of the issue is gumming and buildup within the unit itself.

Hondas do not like to be left idle, but since many bikes get left unused over the winter months, this can happen.

Another cause is the air/fuel mixture running too lean.

This is what brings about sputtering and stalling.

When the carburetor is poorly maintained it loses the crucial balance of air and fuel that your engine relies upon.

Equally, some models can run too rich, which creates black smoke.

If you notice that your Honda motorcycle is burning through a lot more fuel than usual, then the likely cause is that perhaps the pressure is too low and airflow too fast, which is dragging huge amounts of fuel into the combustion process.

The excess is being wasted.

Finally, a cause of failing carburetors in Honda is human error.

Those who remove the carburetor for cleaning but then restore it incorrectly or attempt to modify it before restoring it but botch the job can cause many problems in the carburetor.

What Are The Possible Solutions Of A Honda Failing Carburetor?

Most problems in the Honda carburetor can be solved by carefully detaching it, cleaning its individual components with WD40 and compressed air, and then restoring it correctly.

Carburetors are durable and lasting parts of the motorcycle, but they are sensitive to a lack of maintenance and care.

Therefore, regular cleaning and quick responses to symptoms of problems should ensure that the carburetor doesn’t fail.

Proper cleaning will ensure that any gumming or other buildup is effectively dealt with.

If you experience the air/fuel mix running either too lean or too rich, then the jets need to be cleaned out and possibly replaced.

If you’re getting uneven pressure and airflow, then this kind of problem might persist until it starts causing damage in other parts of the engine.

(Video) Most common Carburetor problem!

Finally, a great solution to the problem of human error is to leave certain tasks to professional Honda technicians.

They have the important know-how and experience to ensure that a carburetor is cleaned, repaired, and rebuilt properly.

Can A Honda Motorcycle Run With A Failing Carburetor?

Technically, a Honda could still continue running with a failing carburetor, but it would be operating on borrowed time.

Furthermore, the normally powerful and dependable Honda engine would be struggling and without the power it needs.

The carburetor is crucial, so if it has already failed, then your bike won’t work.

If it is struggling or on the way to failure, then it needs immediate attention.

Does Cleaning The Honda Carburetor Prevent Failing?

The vast majority of problems with the Honda carburetor can indeed be prevented and solved by proper cleaning.

Of course, cleaning can’t manage everything, but it covers the majority of issues.

If an individual screw or other component is broken or otherwise physically damaged, then cleaning won’t help, but what cleaning does do is restore balance to the jets and shafts, allowing properly balanced airflow.

That balanced airflow brings better performance.

Can I Clean It Myself?

You can indeed clean it yourself, but with Honda models, great care should be taken about restoring the carburetor after cleaning.

Mistakes in reinstallation can cause other unwanted problems down the road.

Can I Use WD40 To Clean It?

Yes, WD40 and compressed air together are two of the best tools to clean the carburetor.

WD40 is specifically designed for this kind of application.

Can I Clean It Without Removing It?

Yes, and in fact, this is the best policy if you are worried about not being able to rebuild or restore the carburetor correctly after cleaning is finished.

If you can position the bike correctly, and have enough space and light to clean the carburetor without removing it, then that’s a good course of action.

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What is the most common problem with a carburetor? ›

Problems that are often blamed on a "bad" or "dirty" carburetor include hard starting, hesitation, stalling, rough idle, flooding, idling too fast and poor fuel economy.

How do you diagnose a carburetor problem? ›

AutoFix can look for carburetor trouble, and if you experience any of the following four signs, you should definitely have your carburetor checked out.
  1. Engine Performance Reduction. ...
  2. Black Exhaust Smoke. ...
  3. Engine Backfires or Overheats. ...
  4. Starting Difficulty. ...
  5. Don't Ignore the Signs.
Oct 29, 2019

How do I know if my carburetor is clogged? ›

Here are four telltale signs that your carburetor needs attention.
  1. It just won't start. If your engine turns over or cranks, but doesn't start, it could be due to a dirty carburetor. ...
  2. It's running lean. An engine “runs lean” when the balance of fuel and air gets thrown off. ...
  3. It's running rich. ...
  4. It's flooded.

How do you fix a Honda carburetor? ›

How to Fix a Honda Carburetor - YouTube

How do you clear a clogged carburetor? ›

Make sure carburetor is cool to the touch before cleaning.
  1. Dilute cleaner. ...
  2. Clear air filter. ...
  3. Remove the carburetor. ...
  4. Remove carburetor float. ...
  5. Remove other removable components. ...
  6. Soak and scrub components. ...
  7. Rinse and dry. ...
  8. Reassemble and replace.

What causes a carburetor to not get fuel? ›

float may be stuck in the closed position or if carburetor equipped with a electric shut off/solenoid it could be faulty/stuck/bad connection. Now if you are getting fuel to carb. and the bowl is filling, either the jets are clogged or you have not adjusted the screws out to the proper settings to allow fuel to flow.

How do you clean a motorcycle carburetor without removing it? ›

To clean a carburetor without disassembling it, we can simply use a compressed air gun which is sometimes enough if the clogging is not severe. With the help of compressed air and fuel, most of the grease and fuel residues can be removed from the jets. Once done, carefully clean the upper tray and the float as well.

What happens if a carburetor gets too much air? ›

If the carburetor is supplying an air/fuel mixture that is too rich, the engine may tend to load up, foul the spark plugs, run sluggish and lack power.

How do I know if my carburetor needs adjusting? ›

Q: How Do I Know if My Carburetor Needs Adjusting? A: Simply put, poor running conditions are a dead giveaway. A rough idle, poor throttle response, and excessive fuel consumption are all signs to look for.

Can you clean a carburetor without removing it? ›

Use carburetor cleaner to remove deposits, clogs & debris

Deposits inside the carburetor can clog fuel and air passages and reduce performance or stop the engine altogether. Luckily, you can take care of many of these problems quickly and easily; often without even removing the carburetor from the engine.

What are the symptoms of a bad diaphragm in a carburetor? ›

The symptoms of a bad diaphragm are similar to other mower problems. Refusal to start or cutting out during running may be the first sign of a problem. The mower may smoke excessively or sound sluggish.

How do I know if my motorcycle is running rich or lean? ›

If you take a look at the spark plugs, you'll notice an obvious difference. We noted that a motorcycle running lean will have a clean spark plug. A motorcycle running rich will have a much dirtier and soot-looking covered tip.

How often should you clean your carburetor motorcycle? ›

It's a good rule of thumb to get the carburetor tuned about every two years, but there's really no other routine maintenance you'll need to perform on your carburetor. Taking a carburetor apart is a pain and it's really okay to only clean it out when you feel like it needs it.

What are problems with carburetors? ›

Carburettor problems are usually encountered as a flooding condition, malfunctioning choke, severe backfiring, sticking throttle, inability to set idle, engine hunting, popping back, or no action of acceleration pump. Excessive carbon monoxide in the exhaust indicates a carburettor problem.

What causes a carburetor to not idle? ›

Often, dirt in the idle circuit can cause a no-idle situation, where the engine will run well at road speed. Sometimes, removing the idle mixture screw, blowing compressed air into the hole, replacing the mixture screw and readjusting the mixture may cure this problem.

How do I know if my carburetor needs adjusting? ›

Q: How Do I Know if My Carburetor Needs Adjusting? A: Simply put, poor running conditions are a dead giveaway. A rough idle, poor throttle response, and excessive fuel consumption are all signs to look for.

What causes a carburetor to load up? ›

A rich fuel mixture (too much fuel for the amount of air in the cylinder) can cause an engine to load up at idle, foul the spark plugs, and also lack power or run sluggish.


1. The Single Most Common Carburetor Problem (Clogged Pilot Jets) and How To Fix It | MC GARAGE
(Motorcyclist Magazine)
2. Motorcycle and ATV Carburetors 101
(Rocky Mountain ATV MC)
3. carburettor over flow problem // over flow problem// carburettor working animation /
(Your Bike Mechanic)
4. Ignition Problem , Pick up Problem and Missing Problem Solved any Motorcycle in Sinhala | Capacitor
(Random Plus SL)
5. WHY your motorcycle only runs on CHOKE
6. Honda CRF80 Carb Adjust Mod
(The Real World)

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