Defeating A Lawnmower Auto-Choke – Apr 2017

There is only one thing that really annoys me with my new Honda Lawnmower – the motor often dies when trying to mow tall or wet grass.  This is caused, primarily, by the auto-choke.  When the motor bogs down in the tall grass, the rpm drops, and then the auto-choke closes, causing the motor to die.

I figured out an easy way to defeat the auto-choke and thought I would share it in case others are struggling with the same problem.  The details are based on my Honda HRX217 lawnmower, but they should work for other mowers that use the same carburetor.  The motor is model GCV190.  It may be possible to adapt this approach for other brands and designs as well.

Mower Modifications:

My solution required me to drill three 1/8″ holes in the plastic shield around the carburetor.  I use a 16p nail and a piece of string.

The first hole is on the front.  Just be careful not to drill in too far and damage the carburetor.  Fasten one end of the string to the plastic shield and the other end to the nail, as shown below.

Three holes, a piece of string, and a nail

Drill another hole in the top of the shield.  This is used to store the nail when you don’t need to defeat the auto-choke.  Just make sure the nail won’t interfere with any moving parts on the carburetor.

The nail in storage position

The final photo shows the nail in position to defeat the auto-choke.  Remove the air filter so you can watch the choke butterfly valve.  Then move the choke mechanism so you can see the difference between open and closed positions.  With the motor cold, it should be in the closed position.  You want the nail to hold the choke in the open position (or choke off).  Figure out where to drill the hole so the nail will hold the mechanism in place.

The nail defeating the auto-choke


Operating procedures:

  1. Be sure the nail is in storage position when trying to start a cold motor.  This allows the auto-choke to operate normally.
    1. If your motor won’t start, check the nail – if you left it in defeat position after the last use, you may not be able to get the motor started.
  2. Begin mowing your lawn.  If the grass isn’t too long or wet, your mower may work just fine and there is no need to move the nail.
  3. If your motor bogs down and stalls, simply insert the nail in the ‘defeat’ position.  Make sure the nail goes behind the choke mechanism and passes through items on the top of the carburetor.  This will hold the nail in place, and the nail prevents the choke from closing.
  4. Finish mowing your lawn.  If you need to restart the motor while warm, there is no need to remove the nail.

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