Small Engine Tools – That Get The Job Done!

I’m always suspicious when a job goes smoothly, in fact, I prefer a mower to put up a bit of a struggle. But when it does go smoothly, it’s usually because you’ve got the right tool for the right job. This page is dedicated to those tools.

Fueling System Tools

A fueling system fault, hands down is the most common fault a lawnmower will have. The reasons are simple, carburetors are small and block up with crap easily, check out this post “Lawn mower starts then dies”.

The second reason, people (including me) forget to use a fuel stabilizer in the gas tank over the winter (Keeps gas fresh). Check out this post “How to winterize your mower”.

Cleaning the fueling system in most cases fixes the problem. Check this post out, “Carburetor cleaning”, but sometimes you’ll need to bite the bullet and fit a new carburetor. Check out the “Carburetor cleaning video” here.

Anyway here’s a list of the tools you’ll find really helpful if you troubleshooting your fueling system and many other small engine problems.

Some of the pictures on this page link to Amazon.com where you can check the price and delivery of products. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Stabil Fuel Stabilizer

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Mix this with the gas when winterizing your small engine. Gas isn’t what it used to be, it goes stale, in some cases after just one month. Bad gas causes gumming and that’s a carburetor killer. A stabilizer will save you money and stress in the long run. Picture links to Amazon.com. Check out “Adding stabilizer video” here.

Carburetor Cleaner

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When cleaning your carburetor you’ll need this stuff. Gumming is a sticky substance that’s hard to shift. The carb cleaner will remove it, however, if your carb is really bad, save yourself some work, go ahead and buy a new carburetor. Picture links to Amazon.com. Check out the “Carburetor cleaning video” here.

Oil Extractor / Syphon

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You’ll find this tool really useful if you need to drain the gas tank, and you will if the gas is stale. The siphon will remove it without fuss or mess and it can be used for extracting the oil too. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Fuel Line Clamp

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Some small engines will have a gas tap, which is really handy when removing the carburetor, stops gas flowing all over the shop. However most engines won’t have one, these useful clamps simply squeeze the fuel line and prevent a spill while you perform surgery. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Carburetor Cleaners

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You’ll find these nylon brushes super useful when it comes time to clean those tiny passageways of the carburetor and jet. Use these in conjunction with the WD Carb cleaner. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Ignition System Tools

The ignition system of all small engines give plenty of trouble, after the fueling system it’s the next most likely area to fail. Checking for spark is often the very first test we do. Check out this video “How to check spark”.

Common problems include:

  • Plug dirty
  • Plug gap off
  • Armature/Coil failure
  • Broken flywheel key

The kind of tools we’ll need when working on an ignition system range from spark testing to measuring tools. I’ll list the most common tools together with what they do and a link to Amazon. 

Spark Tester

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This tool is used to check both the spark plug and the coil for spark. Sure you can check the spark without the tool, but it’s not as good, the tool is designed to stress the whole ignition system. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Spark Plug Gapper

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This tool isn’t strictly necessary if you have a feeler gauge, but it’s a lot easier to handle. If you haven’t guessed, you use this tool to check the gap of your spark plug, a simple effective tool. Picture links to Amazon.com. Check out the spark plug gapping video here.

Fly Wheel Puller

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Now, this tool is a must-have if you’re removing the flywheel. Why would want to remove the flywheel? Sometimes the flywheel key shears, it stops your engine from starting. The key is really cheap and it’s easy to fix when you’ve got this tool. Picture links to Amazon.com.

DVOM

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Every home needs a Dvom (Digital Volt Ohm Meter). It’s used to check for continuity in lawn mower wiring, and for voltage when there’s a battery fitted. But don’t use this tool to check spark, that will kill it. I use mine every day. I have the previous model to this and it’s still doing its job. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Jumper Cables

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I like the Cartman boosters, they stay flexible even in low temperatures. They have double grip clamps and the set is guaranteed for 5 years. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Smart Charger

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This is a clever battery charger, plug it in, attach to your battery, and forget it. After it finishes charging, it trickle charges and it’s safe to leave it on all winter. Picture links to Amazon.com. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Testing Compression

If you’re reading this section, you might have a more serious problem. But it doesn’t mean you can’t fix it. Small engines are really simple, they need 3 things:

  1. Gas/air mix
  2. Spark
  3. Compression

This tool will test compression, which in turn will help you identify common issues like head gasket failure, sticking valves, or worn/broken piston rings.

Modern lawn mower engines use a compression release valve which helps them start. Trouble is, a compression release valve will on some engines, cause an incorrect compression test reading.

While a compression test kit is still useful, a leak-down tester is a more useful tool, it offers readings but also helps actively identify the problem.

Check out “Compression test video” on this page.

It allows you accurately measure pressure loss in the cylinder (you’ll need access to compressed air). But more importantly, it allows you to listen for the tell-tale leaking of air.

  • Air from the dipstick indicates a broken or worn rings.
  • Air leaking from exhaust/muffler suggests a exhaust valve issue.
  • Air leaking from carburetor suggests an intake valve fault.
  • Air from the cylinder head suggests a head gasket fault.

Compression Tester

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This is a compression tester, it’s fitted in the plug hole using the adaptor. Cranked over the engine produces a compression reading which is read on the dial. The compression readings are matched against the manufacturer’s specs. A low reading can be caused by a simple fault such as a sticking valve. Picture links to Amazon.com. Check out the compression test here.

Leak-down Tester

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The OTc is a quality kit and will last many years of use. A leak-down tester will require compressed air. The tester measures how much air escapes a cylinder and helps you find weak rings, valves head gaskets, etc. Picture links to Amazon.com.

Feeler Gauge

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The ABN 26 blade feeler gauge set is marked in SAE and metric. You’ll need this set to adjust valve lash and is useful when setting armature/coil air gap. You can also use it to gap spark plugs. Picture links to Amazon.com.

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