Throttle on Honda GCV160 engine only runs wide open

j4racinJune 24, 2008

I have Honda HRT216S3DA powered by GCV160 engine. The engine serial # is GJAE1576258. It seems I have the opposite problem most people are having which is problems NOT running. Mine fires up on the first pull and it revs very high (sounds like it's about to explode). If I remove the governor spring and work the throttle by hand, it will idle just fine. If I hook the governor spring back up, it runs wide open (faster than normal high speed) regardless of the throttle lever position. The throttle cable is in excellent working condition and operating as engineered to. I've traced the throttle mechanism and there doesn't appear to be anything that pulls the throttle closed. I've found the spring that pulls the throttle open, but nothing that pulls the lever back to the idle position. Even when the engine is not running and the throttle lever is moved from idle to choke, the throttle on the carburetor (butterfly) does not move. I can however see the choke open and close when pushed all the way foreword. All of the springs are in place as far as I can tell.

Additionally, I have removed the carb and checked the float and cleaned the inside removing the main nozzle, jet needle valve etc. There is no gas in the oil or coming out of the muffler. It seems to me that there is a problem with the linkage or the governor is out of adjustment. I have tried everything I can think of and nothing works. I even went to Home Depot and compared the workings on the control base of a new one with mine and nothing different stood out. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what it may be?

Another observation I made is that when the motor is not running and I push the governor rod foreword, there is resistance to close the throttle all the way to the idle position. I donÂt believe the problem is in the carburetor since it starts on the first pull and runs well at high and low speeds. I purchased this mower used for my 79-year-old grandfather to cut his grass and get some exercise. PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN. Thank you.



Charlotte, NC

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canguy(British Columbia)

Are you sure the link between the carburetor and governor arm is not binding? It may be bent.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 11:57PM
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I have checked for binding, the throttle lever works smooth. I don't have a diagram, is there a spring that goes around the bolt that attaches to the control assembly? I was wondering if someone took it apart and left it off. Thanks

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 12:46PM
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Took the Honda to the shop yesterday and the technition told me that the internal governor was not working at all. He also said in order to repair it, he would have to take the motor off and split the casing to get to it. He estimated the repair cost to be $150.00 plus. I picked up the mower and brought it home. I don't have the money to get this fixed now. Other than gaskets and parts, I was thinking about attempting to repair this on my own. I can put back anything I take apart. Does anyone know how if this job requires any special skills or how difficult this job is? I never split the case on a motor before, but would like to attempt to.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 7:56AM
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Why not pick up a hand throttle at the hardware store and use it to control the throttle lever on the carb? You'll have to set it so it won't overspeed. Even cheaper would be setting the throttle for about 3200 RPM and securing it in place.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 9:14AM
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You are a genius. What a great idea, why didn't I think of that? I will try that. I will not have to split the case after all. How do you suggest I secure the throttle? Even a bigger question, What would cause the internal governor break on a well maintained 4 year old Honda GCV160 motor. Does this happen from hitting something like a rock or stump? Let me know. Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 10:38AM
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nevada_walrus(Boulder City)

Good Golly Miss Molly
This thing already has a throttle control.

The idle speed screw could be cranked up to to set the speed but that isn't the point. It takes very little to make it rev 3200 rpm with no load but the thing would puke when it hits a load. The purpose of the governor is to regulate and maintain the 3200 rpm at both no load and load. The gov needs repairing.

The flyweights on the gov have probably come apart. Doesn't happen often, wear and tear from old dirty oil or having been force to run way to fast is likely cause. Or debris got dropped in oil fill when checking oil level.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 11:49AM
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Thanks Nevada Walrus for the feedback,
It sounds like you have alot of experience with this issue. Is it really a $150.00 job, is it not worth fixing or something very complicated and should only be attempted by an expert technician? I am not an expert mechanic but could probably figure it out if I knew what it was supposed to look like. Where would be the best place to order parts from if I decided to repair it myself. Do you think I should just look for a cheap used mower and swap engines. What would you do? Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 12:56PM
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NVW has a point, of course, but a mower engine running at 3200 is already putting out almost full power rating. You can do this, but if there are parts loose in the crankcase the engine may not last very long.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 3:22PM
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nevada_walrus(Boulder City)

3200 rpm at no load the engine is not producing all that much power because the throttle is not open very much. The throttle butterfly in the carb is just a crack more then at idle. When a load is applied the governor sense's the rpm drop and allows the throttle to open further to compensate for load. Full power output is achieved under heavy load that allows the governor to open the throttle to full open but due to te load still remains near 3200 rpm.

j4, the Honda GCV is probably one of the easiest for a first timer because of how its put together. You don't even need to remove the base from the mower. Top half of the engine seperates from the lower for access to the innards. Its sealed with case bond rather then a gasket. Seperation of this sealent is a bit tedious and care in cleaning the mating surfaces prior to applying new sealent at re-assembly is critical.

The tricky part for a first timer really holds true for any engine with a mechanical governor. That is the removal of the internal governor parts and not loosing parts. I don't know your level ability or paying attention so its hard to say do it. You have to be patient

If you go for it I suggest replacing the entire internal governor because although maybe only one piece is broken there may be damage to the rest. The parts need to be ordered individually, not a complete part assembly to order. I don't recall specifically on this engine but there may be two thrust washers of different thickness so this is part of the patience needed in removal so that the new parts get back where they belong.

Suggest you order and recieve all the governor parts along with a tube of Honda Bond before doing the work. This way you can complete the job when you start. Much easier remembering when you do it the complete job non stop.

$150 a fair price? Sounds high to me. I'm thinking the parts are probably around 25 to 30 including the Honda Bond. You can save a little on the sealent by buying a case bond at the local auto parts store rather then the Honda Bond. Just don't use normal silicone sealent. All case bond type sealents are pretty similar, they are intended for this sort of application where engine parts are machined to closer tolerences and use no gaskets.

I'm thinking an hour and a half for labor. Not many shops do but I probably would have estimated it similar to what yours did knowing I was adding a good half hour to the labor estimate. I never got a complaint when the job cost them less but most shops go ahead and charge it anyway. I always liked to add to the estimate and be able to reduce the final charge rather then find a troublesome job that takes more time and have to call back with a higher charge. But my thinking isn't the same as most.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 7:48PM
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Thanks NW for the reply.

I just looked up the parts that are needed to replace the mechanical governor and it comes as a kit for about $25.00. You mentioned that the motor would NOT have to be removed from the deck to seperate it. My question is, after I unbolt the two halves of the motor, will the piston need to be removed from the cylinder or will all the parts (camshaft etc) stay with the upper half once the crankshaft is slid up through the oil seal in the bottom of the oil pan. I am going to repair this myself, but like you said, I should have all the parts to complete the job before starting. When the upper half of the motor is pulled up to seperate from the oil pan, the crankshaft slides up through the oil seal, does the seal usually get damaged and need to be replaced or should it be good to go. I just don't want to overlook any needed parts before starting this job because my parts dealed has a slim stock and could take a few days to get them in. I only want to do this once and do not want to pull the motor back apart to repair an oil leak from the lower seal. I know I may sound ignorant and ask alot of questions, but this is my first time and I am trying to visualize in my head the procedure and what its going to look like inside the engine before actually doing it. I want to do this rite one time. Please advise. Thanks.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:40AM
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Nevada Walrus,

I appreciate your last response. If you get a minute, could you $.02 on my last post. Thanks.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 1:22PM
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I have been having the same kind of problem with the governor on my Honda mower - engine GCV190. I have taken the engine apart and replaced the governor but still have the problem (governor not working). What was the final result of j4racin ripping into his engine?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 11:22PM
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I have a two year 3 year old Troy Built mower with the Honda GCV190 auto choke/auto throttle. Last year (2nd year) it ran very poorly... but it ran/did the job. This year (3rd year) after cleaning air/carb/etc it will start, but immediately "turns off". Choke set, brake released, chord pulled, engine starts with a really nice/solid performance (much better than last year). That said, choke slides shut and seems the throttle control arm also moves forward which I think opens the throttle butterfly. Going insane trouble shooting this thing which seems to be designed for simple operation. Welcome any helpful tips. Thanks...

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 5:40PM
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My Honda GCV160 starts from first,and when on choke runs very smooth ,but when I put lever on "run" speed is going up and down.What is the problem?Thanks

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 12:58AM
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rosemallow(z7 Md)

Taryl,rvmann and ntrojic you have carburetor problems.
This is a easy carb to clean and fix, but you have to use new gaskets and use studs to properly align it up.
The original gaskets used at the factory had stick on gaskets. The replacement ones do not.
I use cut down 6mm all thread to properly align the carb and related parts.
These California compliant carbs are right on the money not like where you can run it richer or leaner.
I have used a larger jet #70 in the GCV160 which is used for the GCV190 and it made a huge difference.
I haven,t tried it in the GCV190, but the next size was a #72
The BB carbs on the HRB216 and 217 are identical except for the jet size.
Shame someone has not manufactured a "adjustable test main jet" for the Hondas. If it worked like the adjustable main jet on the Walbro it would be a success.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 8:18AM
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Interesting reading. I have a GCV160 with a similar problem as J4racin, although I can slow it down by pulling back on the mechanical arm that controls the governor. If I don't, it wants to open full and run full like its sprung open. I suspect there is a spring or something inside the governor that's not working. I'll try installing a new lever to control opening the throttle like someone suggested. We did open the motor once and it was really easy. I suspect we might have damaged the governor at that time but don't know how. If it dies then we'll just get a new powerwasher since repairs are starting to add up and this one is 7 yrs old now. Its been very good otherwise.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 8:02PM
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I had several honda walk-behinds that had guverner problems. I tried to fix them, but to no avail! So, i solved the whole problem! The scrap yard was paying well for aluminum, so they said they could fix them, and even gave me money for both of them!
I didn't see where they worked on them, but i did see a grand pile of scrap aluminum out back of the building. HMMM.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2011 at 12:42PM
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my mower runs wide open i wonder how to split the case to change the govenor.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 1:55PM
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First,I was at the store (6/21/2011) and a new GCV 160 engine was $125. Second, I was having a lot of throttle issues. Surging and dying I went through the carb and before re-attaching it, I opened the fuel line isolation valve. It poured fuel for a second or two and quit. I loosened the gas cap and got full flow. It turns out the gas cap is EXTREMELY poorly vented. vacuum locking the fuel flow. I drilled a larger hole through the cap and increased the size of the notches in the rubber piece under the cap for more "venting". Runs great now!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 1:22AM
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