Problems with new Honda Lawnmower

pensfanMay 23, 2008

I just bought a Honda HRR216VKA with the autochoke. Out of the box it took 5 pulls to start, i figured a breakin period, it got progressivly worse, with the last time taking over 12 pulls, i took it back and exchanged it for another, this one is doing the same thing. Is the autochoke a problem on all of these, is there something that i am doing wrong, i don't think there are any adjustments anywhere. My 20 year old Honda still starts on the first pull everytime. I have another 10 days for my 30 day return and just might get the VXA model. Any opinions in the VKA and the VXA, is the VXA worth the extra money?

If i do exchange it for the VXA, i have to do it before the 31st to get the extra year of warranty from Honda.

Outside the starting problem i love the mower and want to stick with Honda

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Are you using clean, fresh fuel?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 8:36PM
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I have absolutely no hands on experience with the auto choke, but what I've heard is-
Be ready to pull the rope IMMEDIATELY after setting it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 9:12PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

The auto choke does not need to be manually set, just pull the rope and go.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 11:50PM
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I'm using the same gas that i used in my old Honda, i am going to try a higher octane and see if that helps

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 12:56AM
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Higher octane won't do a thing.
Fresh gas might.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 2:26AM
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nevada_walrus(Boulder City)

Canguy, I was thinking the same as Bill about the auto-choke. The ones I'm familiar with are set manually at the engine and as soon as the dead man control is pulled down it activates the release of the choke. Waiting to long to pull the rope or if the operater has the dead man bale wired down the full position of the choke would be lost by the time the first pull is made.

I've been gone from the shop since Sept and haven't seen this years models. Has Honda come out with a fully automatic choke that doesn't need that initial set?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 3:59AM
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I also experienced a similar problem with the HRX217K2VKA and the Troybilt with the Honda 160cc motor. Both of these motors have the auto choke. The machines would run fine for a few minutes of mowing, but they would sputter and then stop. It would take more than 5 pulls to restart the engine, but it would sputter and stop again. I used fresh gas, checked the oil level and air filter for debris, and all were fine. I've returned both units to the store and received full refunds. I'm still in the market for a lawn mower. Any suggestions on a good model?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 7:01AM
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Wow. That automatic choke has been a nightmare on the GCV 160cc engines. I'm surprised Honda hasn't yet fixed this obvious trouble spot. The number one thing a mower engine must do to be successful is start in two pulls or less. We have had numerous posts on here about this problem. I like the Honda OHC engine and just bought a LB commercial with one, but it has manual choke/throttle. I would not buy one with the auto choke.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 7:30AM
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Once mine is running restarting a hot engine is fine, if it sites for as little as 10 minutes it takes several pulls again to restart it.

I might be returning it to get the VXA, it would be nice if Honda had the same features as the VKA without the autochoke, i actually like the paddle throttle on it

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 9:55AM
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I'm surprised different HRX's have different 217HXA has a manual choke and has started first pull every single time for 4 years.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 12:53PM
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Had exactly the same problem with my HRC216. The choke was simply not fully engaging. After unsuccessfully looking for ways to adjust it, I came up with the temporary fix of attatching a light piece of nylon cord to the linkage and a small carbiner to the other end of about 8" of cord. By holding the choke properly closed, starting was vastly improved. 1 - 2 pulls. After starting I simply drop the carbiner over the front wheel adjuster to keep it out of the way. Although this was intended as a temporary fix, it has proven so effective and convienient that I have not got around to anything prettier. This is my forth Honda, and I am sad to say it may be the last. Quality has dropped off noticeably since production has switched to the U.S.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 11:00AM
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I had my wife pull the linkage while i pulled the cord, it fired right up, thats not a feasible fix. Its going back this week for the VXA, i am also looking at the Toros with electric start but i don't like the priming of the engine first. Is it too much to ask for a mower that is easy to start on the first pull thats affordable and will last more then 5 years

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 11:57AM
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Toro #20067 for $400.00.I have had a similar one for 9 years and no problems.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 11:19PM
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After waiting for Home Depot to get their new stock of HRX217VKA's with the revised, adjustable SmartDrive handle, I was just about to buy one this past weekend. Then I read this thread.

So instead, I bought a new blade and new front wheels for my 10-year old Lawn Boy and gave it a good clean-up. The machine is kinda falling apart but the DuraForce engine generally starts on the first pull, cold or hot.

I like the Honda features, including the 9" wheels (the little 6" front wheels on the Lawn Boy take a real beating on my less-than-perfectly-level lawn,) but if it doesn't start reliably, not much else matters.

If Honda comes up with a fix for this as they did with the SmartDrive (actually a manual choke would be fine) I'll reconsider one for next season. Meanwhile I'd like to thank you folks for helping me avoid making a big mistake.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 7:02AM
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After reading more and more threads on problems with the autochoke, mine is definitely going back to get the VXA. I would like to step up to the HRX series but in order not to get the autochoke i would have to spend allot more and the wife is just not going for it

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 4:53PM
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Wow, I have a mower with the GCV160 engine and one of the things I like best about it is how easy it starts. (Another is that it absolutely never burns oil.) I've never had a problem, and I'm sure now going into my fourth summer of pasture mowing that I have more hours on this thing than most owners will accumulate in a lifetime. I'll never own another Briggs due to the hard starting I experienced on my last two.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:13PM
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The hard starting was caused by the automatic. choke that works worth a poo.

I just picked up the VXA model with a manual choke and other features that the VKA didn't have, i couldn't be happier, should have just gotten the VXA in the first place. The roto blade stop is great

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 7:09PM
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I found a fix for my HRR216VKA. The first time I tried to start it it took 8 or 10 pulls. The next time, just the same. I'm not sure why, but I then turned off the gas valve and ran the mower till it stalled for lack of gas. The next time I used it, I opened the valve and filled the tank. It started on the first pull!! Same thing the last 3 times I've used it. Try it...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 4:44PM
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Guys, that engine is not meant to start with one pull. Its starts in mid pull. Honda did a great job in that respect. Serious, that thing starts like nobody's business.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 8:44AM
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wrager(Z5 OH)

My HRX starts mid pull everytime (it's an '08 too). Even the first use this year. Put fresh fuel in, open valve, varum.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 3:19PM
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I had a problem with my GVC 160 in a new troybuilt but it was either me being confused about the open verses closed positon of the fuel shut off valve or a bad spark plug.I is hard to be on the same page when talking GVC chokes because the manual references about 8 different types. It may be helpful to state which type choke you have as listed in the manual. I havee an auto choke return system (acrs) which is type 4 in my manual.The only recent known issue I came across regarding my troybilt with honda engine was an MTD bulitin listed fix as fail that had to due with choke cable binding and not returning all the way.

But my mower was never hard to start initialy. It started first pull.But It would only run a few minutes.I changed the spark plug and it works fine. But I may have had my fuel shut off valve in the wrong position the whloe time I was having problems.The only variable left outis I never put my grass bag bag back on,so I would need to do that and check for cable binding. It would be nice to have clear marking for on or off for the fuel shut off.On my mower horizontal(sideways is open) Vertical straight up and down is closed.If would try a new spark plug if having troble before returnig mower.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 2:16PM
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The valve is not marked because 1) it is standard in engineering that a valve of this type is open when the lever is in line with the fluid flow and closed when the lever is across the flow and 2) valve positions are noted in the owners' manual.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 5:03PM
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Hello. Can someone please help me? I've had a problem with the auto-choke on my TroyBilt with a Honda GCV160 since I bought it 2 years ago. Now it's out of warranty and my wife threatens to stop mowing if I don't get it fixed!

The problem: It starts fine, suggesting the choke is closed at startup. However, once it warms up, it runs very sluggishly, suggesting the choke does not open after warmup.

My question: I'm fairly handy, and since it's out of warranty, I'd like to fix it myself. Does anybody know if there's a kit that can be purchased to perform this fix?


    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 1:47PM
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A new carb is $15, that should do it.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 2:16PM
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rosemallow(z7 Md)

The automatic choke on the GCV160 may be dirty and not allowing it to release properly.
If you remove the carburetor be sure to put the lever in the correct position.
If you remove the air filter you can see if it is staying in the chock position.
Yes, the carb is very inexpensive. The installation can be tricky.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 7:05AM
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I had the same problem with my new Honda engine on a Troybuilt lawmmower. The Troybuilt wasn't the issue here, it was the Honda engine. After it started the engine would run for a minute or so then start to sputter then stop.
The problem was the FUEL SHUTOFF LEVER. I had it in the wrong position! Horizontal is ON and vertical is OFF. It's so easy to reverse this position and starve the engine of fuel!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 3:01PM
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I had one of those infernal Honda mowers here, that had a wandering timing problem. One time of pulling the starter rope, it would try to run. Do it again, and it was dead as a door-nail! Next pull, it would pull the rope out of yer hand! Next pull, it would start and run forever until i shut her down! Crank not bent, fly key ok, carb clean, gas clean, kept in garage all winter, new gas in spring, runs and drives. But, it kicks back once in a while. I had 3 other freebies, too. they went to the Honda graveyard on Neville Island, in the Ohio River! (Via the scrap man!)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 9:10PM
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I recently purchased Honda HRR216VKA, and could not be happier Aril-27, 2011. I almost didn't after reading this forum. Mower started on first pull, really mid pull. It has restarted on every first pull. I put year old gas in it on first run;) I even like the smart drive paddle control. If you flip up the control you can rest palm instead of thumb. It did take 30 minutes to get used to. It's just more responsive then other mowers. I found a 10% coupon from Home Depot on ebay, and it brought price down to other brand comparable mowers. Only two things I found better on other mowers. Troy built had one lever for height adjustment. Some of the mowers had a place to attach a hose to clean blade area. I found the idea of duel blade on the honda irresistible. It pushes/cuts like a dream on my slanted hilly lot. If I have any issues in future I will repost.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:29PM
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Hi, I am Walter and looking for new mower for my garden but i have not any experience about mowers :(
after i read this buy guide ( Under) it give good info bit i still need more feedback from mowers owners

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 25, 2013 at 9:03AM
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I purchased this mower from Lowe's on July 3, 2012. I bought the model which is not self-propelled, for $249. From day one it was difficult to start, it has never once started on the first pull when it's cold. After it's warmed up, yes, but not when cold. And in addition, the engine "hunts", that is, the RPM's go up and down when it is not under load.

There is a good post over on "BobIsTheOilGuy" about the exact same problems. This year, when I started mowing again, the problems were worse, requiring 7 or 8 pulls to start when cold. I did buy the extended warranty for this unit, a $40 option. When I called about the warranty, they informed me the mower was still under the basic warranty, the extended warranty did not cover anything until after the 12 month manufacturer's warranty had expired. My only option for warranty service was to return the unit to a Lowe's store. Which I did, on June 8, 2013. Lowe's asked me to sign a piece of paper stating that I would be responsible for paying for the repairs. I refused, naturally, and asked to speak to a manager. The manager told me that I had to sign the paper or they could not have the work performed, but that if I were actually charged for the repairs that Lowe's would instead give me a new mower.

Fast forward 2 weeks, Lowe's calls me on the phone, my mower is ready. I go in to the store, they tell me I owe $75 for "carb cleaning", a non-warranty repair. I ask to speak to the manager, who tells me they don't have any managers or assistant managers who match the description I gave. And unfortunately, I don't remember the guys name.

I then asked for a refund on the extended warranty, which is obviously worthless, and he refused.

I would avoid this mower, and for sure, Lowe's.

Let me add that I have always used fresh gas, from a clean container, and I treat the gasoline with StaBil immediately after purchasing. No gas without StaBil has ever been put into this mower.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 2:28PM
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It's weird to hear about all the problems folks are having with the 190cc engine with auto choke. Knock wood, my new HRX217VKA starts on the first pull every time. Really more of a baby pull, it hardly takes any effort.

It has about 15 hours on it now. I feed it non-ethanol fuel, use no additives, knock out the air cleaner before each run, and run the carb dry using the fuel shut-off every time.

I bought an extra set of blades, sharpen them myself with a hand file - about a 5 minute job if you're handy with a file and have a vise - and torque them according to the manual.

I really like this mower, the Smart Drive is extremely easy to use and it makes a beautiful cut. I only mulch.

I'm keeping my Hi-Vac with the Kawasaki engine for rough work in the fall, and because I have the dethatching attachment.

I bought it from a Home Depot new-in-box on a Sunday; I normally use a dealer but they weren't open. The 30-day return policy convinced me, and I didn't want to wait.

I began the day wanting a Super Recycler, and came back with a Honda - go figure. Great mower.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 9:51PM
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My HRX217VKA ran great and started great for the first 10 hours. Today, no start when cold. I had purchased the shop manual and determined the choke control assembly was not moving smoothly, which wasn't letting the choke butterfly in the carb close. I used spray dry lube on the choke control assembly and that solved the problem. Not sure why it took 10 hours to show up, but all is well. I am extremely happy with the mower compared to my Toro 20056 which developed BBC clutch problems.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:03PM
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Auto choke is not Honda's brightest moment.The Honda's were a great motor before and now they have just created an issue that they didn't need.Get rid of the auto choke and the Honda would be a great motor one again!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 2:17PM
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