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What do I do when my powersport engine stalls?

Engine Stalls 

When it comes time to get away from the daily stress of life and enjoy what nature has to offer, many look only as far as their ATV, snowmobile, UTV, personal watercraft or motorcycle, a category of personal vehicles that has become known as power sport. Depending on the season, you can ride a scenic wooded trail on your ATV, snowmobile or motorcycle or take off across your favorite lake or river on your personal watercraft. These vehicles give you the chance to go where roads can’t take you.

The internal combustion engines in power sport vehicles are inherently reliable, but problems may pop up to ruin your day. One of the problems that is most annoying is having an engine that starts right up and then stalls. Not only is this problem unpleasant, but if your engine stalls and then is difficult to start while you are out communing with nature, it could leave you stranded in a precarious spot.


Just like the engine in your car, truck or SUV, your power sport engine needs air, fuel and a spark to ignite the air/fuel mixture to run properly. If any of these elements are not supplied to the combustion chamber in the proper amounts and at the proper time, your engine will not run as smoothly and may stall at the most inappropriate times.

The carburetor mixes a proper amount of air and fuel together and directs the mixture into the combustion chamber. Your spark plug then sparks at the right time to ignite the mixture, and the explosion applies a driving force to the piston. Incorrect amounts of air or fuel will cause the engine to run poorly, as will a weak spark.

What to Look For

Bad Fuel - Gas will go stale in as few as 30 days, especially fuel mixed with ethanol as it is in many areas. Ethanol attracts moisture over time and the moisture will dilute the gas. Diluted gas may cause your engine to stall. 

Dirty Air Filter – As the air filter cleans the air entering the carburetor, it will eventually become dirty or clogged and may prevent the proper amount of air from mixing with the fuel, causing your engine to stall.

Gas Cap – Many gas caps also function as a fuel tank vent allowing air into the tank as the fuel is used. The vent may become clogged and preventing air from entering the tank, resulting in poor fuel flow into the engine.

Air Leak – There may be air getting into the engine through a leak in the intake manifold or head gasket. This air will change the air/fuel mixture in the engine and may cause your engine to stall. 

Worn or Dirty Spark Plugs - Carbon, oil residue and pitting on the spark plug electrodes will cause a weak or inconsistent spark, resulting in poor ignition and possible stalling 

Dirty Fuel Filter - As with your air filter, when the fuel filter does its job, it will become less efficient and may become clogged, restricting fuel flow to the engine.

What to Do

If the fuel in your tank is old, it should be removed and properly disposed of, and fresh fuel added. You can also remove the gas cap and clean the fuel tank vent. Other problems that may cause stalling, such as a bad ignition coil, worn spark plugs and a clogged fuel filter, may best be left to an experienced professional mechanic.

If your engine needs new air and fuel filters, or a new spark plug, insist on products from a name-brand manufacturer, such as Champion. Also, make sure that whatever parts you buy are genuine, not low budget knock-offs.    


When your engine is running as if it were new, you can go just about anywhere your ATV, snowmobile, personal watercraft or motorcycle can take you with assurance that you can safely return home.

Learn more about power sport maintenance, find your part, or find where to buy your part today.

The content contained in this article is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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