Honda GX390 engine problems (pressure washer)

mster(NJ)October 17, 2005

Sorry for posting this here, but I have also posted this in the tool shed forum, but this group has helped me out so much in the past, I'm hoping you can help me with this problem, as I must be doing something wrong. I have now tried to start/run 3 different pressure washers and can get none to work. The first two were purchased at Home Depot. They were the Ex-Cell model with the Honda 13hp GX390 commercial engine and the General pump - 4gpm and 3700 psi. I couldn't get either one to start despite following the instructions to the letter. After about 20 pulls, if it did start, it would stall right away.

I then went to Lowe's and bought the equivalent model which also has the Honda GX390 engine, but a different pump. This one would start on the first or second pull, but would stall out after running for about 30 seconds. Then, it wouldn't start for a bit, but if I waited for a while, it would start again, but then stall when I would try to use the washer after about 30 seconds.

Any ideas about what the problem is, or recommendations?

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rustyj14(W/PA)

Didja make sure there is oil in the engine? Those new machines may be sold "dry". I've seen and heard of people returning a mower, etc., because the oil was "watery"! (There wasn't any oil in it!) Why? Because, in their haste to start the new machine, they didn't read the tags on the oil fill cap and on the dip-stick, etc., In goes the gasoline, the choke is set, the starter rope is pulled, and woweee! it starts on the third pull!! And, it runs, until the assembly grease in the connecting rod burns away, and it locks up!
And then again--how old is your gasoline? Is it the stuff you bought last spring for your mower? Hmmm? Have you used any water removing agent in it lately? Does it sit outside in the sun all day, and gets cool at night? HMMM???
Does it smell like varnish?? Do you run it thru a strainer when you put it in the tank? did you open the fuel shut-off before trying to start it, if so equipped? Is the spark plug wire on the plug? And lastly--did you read thoroughly the instruction sheets that came with the machines?
From your description of all of those "bad" machines, i would think you are doing something wrong! Geez, they can't all be bad!
People give me machines they say are junk! Can't start them, take it--i don't want it!
some cleaning of gas tank and carb, some laquer thinner and new gas in tank, a shot of starter fluid, and even an older machine will usually start and run!
I really think in your case, if what i have writ doesn't help, you'd better hire someone to do those jobs for you!
Rusty Jones

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 4:38PM
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mster(NJ)

Rusty,

Apparently there was a misunderstanding with what I had posted. I too, would find it hard to believe that there was a problem with all these machines, and thought that I was doing something wrong. That is why I posted the message here, as I thought I had to be overlooking something, and was looking for help in finding the solution. I'm sorry, but the point of my posting wasn't to complain about the machine, but to get it to work for me, as I do want it.

I read the instruction manuals thoroughly. First thing I checked was the oil in the engine. The two from Home Depot had some oil in them, but needed to be topped off. The one from Lowes came without oil, so I filled it. In all three cases I checked the oil level in the pump as well.

The gas is a week old; I added Stabil to it. I used the same gas with my mower and no problems. There is a strainer in both the gas can and at the top of the gas tank for the pressure washer.

The plug wire is on the plug. I checked the gap on the plug and it is as required in the manual.

Any other thoughts you or anyone else has would be appreciated.

Ray

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 8:08AM
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bill_kapaun

Fuel shut-off valve open???

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 4:59PM
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tekumcman(Upstate SC)

I've seen these do some "funky things" because of
the low-oil shutdown switch. You might try disconnecting
it, and try running again. If that's it...Honda would
replace it UNDER WARRANTY, of course.

T-Man

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 4:10PM
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ichabod(z8GA)

Are you trying to start with the pump loaded? When starting my pressure washer I have the water supply hose connected and hold the spray gun trigger down so that water is flowing and not pressurized. The engine can't start under load.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 8:47AM
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broke_not(3 ND)

The running for 30 seconds, then stopping......and then restarting after sitting a bit sounds like there may be some crap in the fuel strainer by the carb. If you turn the fuel valve "on" on one of these engines, allow to fuel bowl on the carb to fill, and then shut the fuel valve off, you'll get about 30 seconds of run time out of the engine before the bowl is empty. If the strainer is clogged, the gas may be just seeping slowly into the bowl. The strainer bowl is threaded onto the carb body and takes a 10mm wrench to loosen and remove. It's not a see-through bowl, so you have to remove it to check for debris. If it's fine, then remove the drain screw from the side of the carb bowl. The screw on the very bottom of the bowl reomves the bowl.....leave it alone. The drain screw goes in diagonally and takes a 10 mm wrench as well. With the drain screw removed, turn the fuel valve on. There should be a constant flow of fuel out the drain. If it tapers off and stops, you have a fuel flow problem and the bowl will need to come off.

It would be unusual for the low-oil system to cause the condition you describe, but you can disconnect the low-oil sensor to see if it runs okay without it. There are wires bundled up next to the on/off switch on the blower housing. Disconnect them and start it up. If you have all of them unhooked, the engine will start and run, but you won't be able to shut it off with the on/off switch because they lead to the low-oil system and the kill switch. No worries though....once you have the engine running and want to shut it down, turn the switch to "off", and plug the wires back into their connectors.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 10:02AM
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mster(NJ)

All good thoughts -

The fuel valve has been "on"

This engine has a sediment bowl right next to the carb bowl. I removed the sediment bowl and there was nothing in there other than gas. I also removed the screw on the carb bowl and a stream of gas did come out, but I didn't have the fuel valve on at that time. I will check that out.

I did try to start the engine with the wires disconnected at the oil sensor and on/off switch, but that seemed to have no affect at all. I will try this again though.

Thanks for the tips!

Ray

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 1:31PM
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jammer1(mass)

Maybe honda had some QUALITY control isssues,with their carbs,or fuel fittings...........or maybe even a too tight exuast valve,bad ign. module.............good luck

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 9:31PM
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pprlarry

I am thinking of buying a Pressure washer that has a Honda GX390. Has anybody had any good luck with this engine

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 7:17PM
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jammer1(mass)

I stay away from honda's...........I prefer tecumseh,or briggs,they have a better track record........and parts are cheaper,and easier to aquire.............

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 12:13AM
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1saxman

'I am thinking of buying a Pressure washer that has a Honda GX390. Has anybody had any good luck with this engine'

Doesn't sound like it.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 7:28AM
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ktpond_nbnet_nb_ca

Did you ty taking the gas tank cap off and try running it again. I've seen this as a cause like you describe due to a plugged vent hole in the gas cap even in new engines. The gas gets locked by evacuation of air from the sealed tank. Just a thought, as it causes your symptoms exactly. Let me know how it goes. KP

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 8:02PM
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broke_not(3 ND)

"I stay away from honda's...........I prefer tecumseh,or briggs,they have a better track record."

Yeah.....I know it's an old post, but it's still worth giggling at!

Bwaa-Ha-Ha-Ha!

;-)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 4:15PM
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boatsailor581

OK, first, here's my 'mea culpa'.
I let my Honda engine pressure washer stand for two years and of course it won't start. I read Rusty Jones message about fresh gas, engine starter fluid, etc. But the lacquer thinner. How, what, and where? (Uh, be kind!!) The sentence kind of insinuates laquer thinner mixed with the gas. If so, much?

I did get the thing started after dumping gas into the carb after removing the air cleaner. But it ran for less than five seconds.

The unit is about five years old and probably has about 90 hours on it.

THANKS
Bob Walters
Portland, OR

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 2:00PM
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diego9971

I have only 13 hours of runtime on a new Honda GX390 7.5kw Generator. Today I found the crankcase completely full of mostly fuel mixed w/ oil, overflowing when I removed the oil caps. I keep the gen for emergencies, so it gets very little use, and long storage time with Stabil in the fuel. Now the crankshaft appears to be frozen..... So I'm guessing that the last run-cycle I was operating on overfull gas-oil mix in the crank, and maybe fried the cylinder & rings??? How can gas get into the crankcase from long term storage? While I usually turn off both the fuel tank valve and the engine fuel shutoff, this last winter (for some stupid reasons) I left both fuel valves open....I usually run the engine every 4-5 months for 15-20 minutes.
Jim
Carmel, Indiana

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 1:58PM
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boomyow1_gmail_com

gx 390 ALSO,,& I LOST HALF THE PSI,,THEY SAY I NEED NEW PMP SEALS ,,I DO SEE LITTLI LEAK WHERE PUNP MEETS ENGINE,,ARE THESE SEALS HARD TO CHANGE & WHERE R VIDEOS & PARTS FORUMS ON PSI WASHERS ,,THANKS IN ADVANCE

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 8:57AM
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garyvan_wildblue_net

Hi all. Well i bought a JD pressure washer that i used for an hour last fall. I stored the thing for the winter following the manuals instructions. I started it up two days ago and low and behold it would run for about a minute then spit sputter and stall. Yes bought at lowes. It has the Honda gx390 engine. Yes has oil, fresh gas. It started acting up before i stored it. I talk with Lowes. They informed me to take it to a local John Deere dealer. I spoke with a dealer per phone. He did not sound to enthusiastic about me bring the "junk" to his dealership. Any thoughts as to the the problem. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 10:33PM
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tomplum

Gvan- My guess is that there is a touch of water or debris floating around in the carb bowl. You are likely not going to get warranty for that type of repair anyways. So the options are to do a quick clean of the carb of take it to someone who will WANT to repair it. The person on the phone was certainly not a good representive for the dealership- and someone should be told that . BTW, I think the PW was likely a Generac brand w/ JD paint. Nothing wrong with that.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 11:16PM
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rolm

I did not read all the postings. I can not believe a Honda engine will not start in the 1st or second pull. My money says you are using old stale gas.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 4:06PM
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davidperkey_gmail_com

I second that rolm, I guess im a honda fan boy,,I have been pressure washing full-time for several years,, I have many thousand hours on each of my gx390's and have had no problems, very little upkeep on these great engines! i change the oil at the beginning of each season, and use stbl in off season.. honda engines just go and go... :)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 10:23AM
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Jdemetris2_yahoo_com

Hi,
Anyone know where I can pick-up a cylider head, complete for my gx390? The exhaust valve was sticky, after taking it apart notice a bent push rod & a chipped piece of the cylinder head where the seat sits bummer?? Northern California
Thanks John

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 9:36PM
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ME66GATOR_YAHOO_COM

MY HONDA PRESSURE WASHER STARTS EASILY WHEN COLD. IF YOU SHUT IT DOWN TO TAKE A BREAK IT IS VERY DIFFCULT TO START. I RELEASE ALL PRESSURE AND THE GAS TANK IS VENTING. THE PULL START IS VERY HARD TO PULL. IT WILL RESTART IF YOU LET IF COOL DOWN FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS. IF YOU NEVER SHUT IT DOWN IT WILL RUN ALL DAY WITH NO PROBLEM. IT'S ONLY HARD TO START WHEN WARM. SUGGESTIONS?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 5:09PM
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murrytm_yahoo_com

I have a pressure washer with the honda eng gx390 i have spark at the plug and tried starting it with starting fuild and it wont start can someone help me like i said i have spark

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 5:41PM
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BRADLEY_PLATE_FLYDENVER_COM

does anyone sell a larger fuel tank for this engine. If you try and pump in a remote pump the carb has a plastic needle and seat. The remote fuel source over rides the plastic needle and seat and floods the engine.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 11:36PM
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RDBroman

Karcher pressure washer with a honda motor. No problems in past. Yesterday started the pressure washer without difficulty and after about 1 hr. shut down to move the pressure washer. When I pulled on the cord to restart it would not pull freely. Waited a couple of hours same problem.
This morning same problem. Took off the rope housing and all seems to be normal and rope moves well. Can turn the engine over easily with only compression resistance. No evidence of wear or damage. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Whitey999

I tried all that was listed for pressure washer engine stopping after 30 seconds. Engine would not restart for awhile. Replaced coil and checked out carboration, found spark plug was the problem. Looked ok but would not fire when warm.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 10:30PM
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