honda hrx mower problem

testflyerMarch 18, 2008

Purchased a new Honda HRX series mower this past summer, put roughly 25 hours on it, essentially it's still brand new, and brought it to my Honda dealer for a pre-season service last week (change the oil, look it over, etc). they called me and said the tech finds the engine surges - which is what I slightly noticed but not enough to complain. They tell me the carb is "gunked" up, and the carb needs to be replaced. Basically, blaming me for "poor fuel management". I ALWAYS use fresh gas, high octane, drained the fuel before storage last November. I live in CT, and they said Honda doesn't warranty when the fuel has Ethanol....and I should be treating the fuel with an additive like StaBil. I am shocked that I have to pay for a new carb on a $800+ machine that is less than a year old, and that has 25 or less hours of use since factory new! Anyone else have or hear of such issues?????

I've always been a Honda fan, so when my reliable Deere mower needed replacement, I switched to I dont know why!

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I would pay them for what they have done so far and
leave there, never to return, (but make sure and tell
them why...not just the service manager, but tell the
owner too). If the surge was not that bad to you, then
just run a few tankfulls of gas with Seafoam in it,
that may clean things out. It's dealers like this that
turn people away from 'all' dealers, and that is what
the big box stores count on.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 2:01PM
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rosemallow(z7 Md)

I would contact Customer Relations first.
Customer Relations
Tel: 770-497-6400
Fax: 678-339-2519
Mon. - Fri. 8:30 - 5:00 EST

On page 49 of your manual it states unleaded gasoline with an octane of 86 or higher. You have a 24 month warranty for non commercial use.
Let us know what Honda says. Could be the dealer is money hungry.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 2:16PM
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I am going to call customer relations on this. I didn't want to breath too heavy on the dealer just yet but I didn't buy their explaination of me mismanaging fuel (and didn't buy their top of the line mower to sink money in it after a half season).
I run the best of fuel in my Honda mower, wifes Honda Accord, my Troy Bilt snowblower, my Harley Davidson, and in my airplane....
For all I know, the engine mixture may be out of adjustment but how can I tell them how to work on their own product??? They should be the experts.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 3:42PM
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1) Always use STA-BIL in your gas can every time you fill it. This way you should avoid this kind of problem.
2) Never exceed the octane requirement of any mower engine - high test contains solvents which could affect carburetor function and engine reliability, in addition to depositing more carbon in the top end and exhaust tract.
3) Try removing the carb fuel bowl drain nut and draining the bowl. It's the off-center nut, not the center one. With the fuel valve open, you can get a flush which may remove some dirt/gunk. Be ready to catch the fuel.
4) Put some auto fuel injector cleaner in the fuel (one ounce) and use the mower to see if it gets better over a few uses.

I use a 1:1 mix of STA-BIL/Marvel Mystery oil in my 4-cycle equipment, one ounce/gal, which so far has kept me out of carb trouble. I don't do anything at the end of the season but push the mower into the shed, and I always get a first-pull start in the spring. Modern mowers are set to run lean because of the emissions laws and the slightest restriction in the orifices can cause surging/hard starts. If polymer parts, gaskets in the carb have been affected by the fuel, you may have no choice but to put a carb on it or at least put a rebuild kit in it.

A late thought - if your mower has a spark arrestor in the muffler, it may be clogged by the excess carbon.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 4:57PM
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nevada_walrus(Boulder City)

You drained the fuel, from what? Just the fuel tank or from the entire fuel system, tank, line and carb? If you only did part of a fuel system drain you could have had fuel going rotten in the carb over the winter and that is poor fuel management.

Ethanol is OK with Honda if 10% or less. This should not be an issue in itself so the dealer is suspect for saying so but if you left fuel in the carb without stabolizing you are still at fault.

The carb on the GCV engine is relatively inexpensive and is about the same cost to replace as to clean the old one so many dealers will go that route rather then repair.

Since this dealer doesn't know squat about the ethanol deal [methanol is what isn't allowed] I would suspect anything this dealer says and indeed contact Honda before making any decision. Because the dealer is wrong in the alky deal Honda may decide in your favor even though you "MAY" be at fault for the carb surging.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 5:45PM
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Dealer told me "the higher the octane, the better". I use 87 or 91.
No, I didn't drain the bowl. My last cut of the season was the last week in November, and with fresh fuel right out of the pump because I also filled my snowblower. Maybe the fuel in the bowl went stale after 3.5 months.
The engine always surged a tad, but my experience is that since these modern small engines run so lean, it's the nature of the beast.
As for adding Stab-Bil with every fill-up, why? Fuel in my gas can never sits longer than 3 weeks...I only fill the can half full for that reason.
The carb replacement isn't going to break my bank - but still, the fact that I have to change a carb on a machine with 20 or so hours since new and less than a year old doesnt sit well with me. I'll stop my whining now.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 6:45PM
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Do it or don't do it. I'm not going to sit here and try to break through to a knothead who already knows everything. All I can say is, if you don't even know enough to take care of a freaking lawn mower, and dismiss the advice of those who do, maybe you ought to rethink your airplane maintenance. Good luck with it, pal.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 8:14PM
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nevada_walrus(Boulder City)

Fuel begins to turn in 30 days. By 3.5 months it can be pretty rank and be varnishing up the jets. Thus over wintering an engines fuel system has to be either completely dried or have stabolizer added to the fuel at time of purchase.

The fuel in the carb bowl goes bad quicker then in the fuel tank because the surface area exposed to air ratio to total volume. Your older mower may have been pre lowered emission in design. Modern engines designed to meet emission regs have smaller jetting and clog much quicker and easier. Proper fuel management is critical with modern equipment.

Thing here is not to get mad but to learn and avoid letting it happen again. Wise men make mistakes just once.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 8:19PM
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You should have completely drained the system or stored it with stabilized gasoline in the fuel bowl and tank.

The owners manual for mowers I'm familiar with specify "regular" or 87 octane gasoline and 10% ethanol should be acceptable.

My suggestion would be to get it fixed and perform the correct storage procedures next fall. Alternatively you might want to have a dealer do a checkup and winterizing in the fall.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 11:51AM
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Happy ending I think, although I haven't retrieved the machine yet. Honda went to bat for me and replaced the carb in "good faith".
So now, every time I fill my 2 gallon gas can I'll add Sta-Bil and dry gas per the dealers recommendation. I'm still not so sure the problem was with my 4 month storage as the engine had a slight surge at idle even when I first bought it. I figured it was the typical lean-running, modern emmission-friendly setup.
I agree, that the engine on my old John Deere was before the days of 'green'...
Seems silly to have to doctor up fuel fresh out of the pumps, after paying $3.50 per gallon, for a LAWN MOWER!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 6:47PM
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rosemallow(z7 Md)

Glad to see you had good results.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 7:32AM
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Well I bought a Honda powered pressure washer in 04 & a Honda mower in 06 and they both came with a bottle of Sta-Bil in the plastic bag along with the owners manual etc. and recommended that that Sta-Bil should be used in the fuel , does that tell you anything ?. I've never had a fuel problem with Sta-Bil added. I never drain the gas from any of my equipment ... Weedeater , Redmax blower , Honda pressure washer , HRX Honda mower and JD LT over the winter months and they all start and run just fine. I had no need for the Weedeater for about 4 years and the pressure washer for about 2 years untill I bought a home and moved to the midwest...they both had old gas in them (w/Sta-Bil) so I just topped of the tanks and they both started up with several pulls and run great. I know I shouldn't leave old fuel in them that long even with Sta-Bil and was sure I would have some problems...but everything was ok. Needless to say I'm sold on Sta-Bil and I'm sure Sea Foam is just as good to keep fuel fresh , but unless I have problems I'm not changing a thing.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2008 at 9:47AM
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was the machine brand -spanking new when you got it? or was there gas in the tank.........because if there was gas in the tank,before you first got it,it may have been forming from that first day,before you even got it.....

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 10:11PM
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jammer1 wrote: "was the machine brand -spanking new when you got it? or was there gas in the tank.........because if there was gas in the tank,before you first got it,it may have been forming from that first day,before you even got it....."

Good reason to always get one that is right out of the box. Ask to have it wheeled out with no oil or gas in it. This way you know it has never been fired.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:38AM
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Good luck with Honda power equipment they will Okey-Doke you until the warranty runs out on the HRX. Take you HRX back and exchange it for the least expensive model honda or buy from a manufacturer that stands behind their products or you will be making a very expensive mistake. The HRX has too many problems.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 3:43PM
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I bought a new Honda HRX HXA in May 2009 and it has surge problem on idle. It dies on slow idle. I paid $760 and I don't want my Yardmachine-owning neighbor to give me that look. I took it to the dealer, who, of course blamed my "old gas". He cleaned the carb, and charged me $65 - saying that Honda doesn't cover bad gas ! I took it home, same thing happened again. I called Honda customer service, they played the same "bad gas" line again. I asked them is that a lawn mower or a NASA rocket that is so sensitive to gas. ANyway, I took it back to the dealer. He said he found some "gunk" in the fuel tank (remember he put the fuel after the first clean up). He claims it is running fine now. Before I go pick up, I need to be sure that the problem will be fixed. What tests should I do at the dealer before I bring back mower to be sure the problem is fixed ?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 4:25PM
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rosemallow(z7 Md)

I have seen a lot of posts on this and I have to agree that there is a problem. Also why does Honda sell the replacement carburetor for this engine so cheap?
From what I am seeing they idle for crap. Maybe the idle limiter has to be removed and re adjusted. Maybe they were made to run fast idle to meet emissions.
Right now I cannot do any experiments , but I am thinking about drilling the 70 main jet to a 71 0r 72 and see if that helps.
Also, the last time I went to HD they had a lot of them returned.
It may run richer, but maybe this is what it needs. Maybe a hotter plug to resolve the jet.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Me and a friend both had this problem with our mower, they would only run on high speed and would pulse or surge at idle. Tried cleaning the carb but that didn't work, tried replacing all the gaskets, no improvement. Bought a new carb from Plano Power Equipment for a whopping $16, along with the governor spring and rod, spent about $31 total. Installed the new carb and it purrs like a kitten, idles, runs on any speed, just like new. I did also move the spring on the lower right that attaches to the governor lever from one hole to another. Seems the carb and associated linkage is very touchy, that's why I replaced the other parts but the carb may have had a clogged jet and I just didn't feel like messing with it so replacing it did the trick for me.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 9:50PM
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My Honda is the best grass cutting machine ever-when it runs. Sure I can put a carb on for $17 but I have to go get it and install. I have installed a inline filter but even that does not help. When finished I run the carb and line from the off valve empty, still carb problems. It is not bad or old gas, it is not gas left in the carb, there is a design problem! A $700 lawnmower should not have these problems

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 4:46PM
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I plan to purchase a new mower soon. I really want a Honda, but after reading about all these carb issues, is Honda the right choice? I don't know now.......

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 8:05AM
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I had the same problem with mine, took it to the dealer 6 months after I bought it. They told me the carb was gunked up and that it would not be covered. They told me that although I bought the unit 6 onths ago, the manufacture date was 2.5 years ago. Bottom line, I called customer relations and they honored the repair under warranty. I also bought a spare carb out of pocket. It was $12, no kidding. I figured they ran the unit at the factory and then there was some gas left in the carb.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 5:53PM
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Most Union76 stations sell 100% gas - no ethanol. I've started using 76 in my lawn equipment and my motorcycle. There is a move afoot to increase the allowable enthanol from 10% to 15% which is really going to be a problem for most older cars and most of the small engines.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 9:55PM
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