Honda GX160 Starts Then Dies

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The reason your Honda GX160 dies after starting might be issues with the fuel and air supply, ignition system, oil levels, or flywheel compartment.

Fortunately, these issues can easily be identified and fixed by following the right procedures. 

In this article, I talk about the common reasons your Honda GX160 starts and then dies, troubleshooting tips to help you diagnose the problem, and simple steps you can take to fix each problem.

Reasons Why Your Honda GX160 Starts Then Dies

The reason your Honda GX160 starts and then dies may include:

  • Stale fuel
  • Clogged carburetor jets
  • Dirty air filter
  • Clogged fuel cap vent
  • Faulty spark plug
  • Clogged fuel lines/ fuel filter
  • Damaged ignition coil
  • Faulty low oil sensor 
  • Damaged flywheel/flywheel key

Tools You Need For This Job

Some tools you may need to have nearby when troubleshooting include:

  • Work gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Siphon
  • Empty container 
  • Spark tester
  • Multimeter
  • Compressed air
  • Carb cleaner
  • Clean rag

Honda GX160 Starts Then Dies: Causes And Fixes

1.  Stale Fuel

The first thing you should check if your Honda GX160 starts and then dies is your fuel. 

When was the last time you changed your fuel? For how long has the fuel been in the tank?

If it is more than 3 months, it might have gone stale. The engine will be unable to run with stale fuel because it has lost most of its qualities. This could cause your mower engine to die after starting.


Check the condition of the fuel in your fuel tank. If it has sticky or slimy residue, it is stale.


Drain out all the old fuel from the tank and carburetor bowl using a siphon. Then, refill the tank with new fuel.

2. Clogged Carburetor Jets

If the combustion chamber of your Honda GX160 is not getting the quantity of fuel it needs from the carburetor, it may die after starting.

Leaving stale fuel in the tank can clog the carburetor jets. Fuel begins to evaporate after 3 months, leaving behind a sticky substance.

This substance gets into the carburetor and clogs the tiny holes in the carburetor jets, starving the engine of fuel and causing it to die after starting.


Inspect the carburetor jets and bowl. If there are sticky deposits in the bowl, the jets may be clogged. 

Also, if you have left fuel in the engine for over 3 months, it may have clogged the jets.


Clean the jets and bowl of the carburetor with a carburetor cleaner. If this doesn’t work, you may have to replace or rebuild the carburetor with new parts.

3. Clogged Fuel Cap Vent

If your Honda engine dies after running for some minutes, the fuel cap vent might be clogged.

As the engine consumes fuel, the fuel level in the gas tank reduces and pressure rises in the tank. The tank cap has a tiny air vent to allow air into the engine and prevent a vapor lock from occurring by relieving pressure.

If the vent becomes clogged, the pressure in the tank will keep rising until it exceeds the engine pressure. When this happens, fuel stops flowing out of the tank to the carburetor and the engine dies.


Loosen the gas cap and start the engine. If it runs with the loose cap, the vent is clogged.


Replace the fuel cap or clean the vent with a thin wire and compressed air to unclog it.

4. Dirty Air Filter 


Your Honda engine needs a good supply of fuel, air, and ignition spark to start and run. The engine might die after starting if the air supply is restricted.

The air filter sifts air going into the engine to prevent dirt and dust from getting in and causing damage. 

When the air filter becomes too dirty, airflow is greatly reduced and the fuel mixture becomes too rich with little to no air. This can cause the engine to die after starting.


Remove the air filter housing and inspect the air filter. If it is too dirty, it might be the cause of the problem.


Clean the air filter or replace it with a new one.

5. Faulty Spark Plug


The engine of your Honda GX160 might die after starting if the spark plug is worn out or defective.

The spark plug produces the spark that ignites the fuel and air mixture of the engine and keeps the engine running.

If the spark plug is faulty, it will produce an insufficient spark which would be unable to ignite the fuel mixture and cause the engine to die after starting.


Check the plug for signs of damage and carbon buildup. If it is cracked, burnt, darkened, or oil-stained, the plug is damaged.


It is best to replace the spark plug with a new one.

6. Clogged Fuel Lines/Fuel Filter

Fuel is delivered from the fuel tank to the carburetor through the fuel lines and the fuel passes through the fuel filter.

The fuel lines and filter can get clogged with stale fuel residue or debris from the tank. If this happens, fuel delivery becomes reduced and the engine might be getting little to no fuel, causing it to die after starting.

Also, the fuel lines might be split/torn, causing fuel to leak out or evaporate before getting into the engine. This also reduces fuel delivery and can cause the engine to die after starting.


Inspect the fuel lines and the filter. Check the fuel lines for splits and check fuel flow through each line to determine if it is clogged.

Tilt the filter to check if fuel flows freely from each side. If fuel flow is slow, it might be the cause of the problem.


Replace the fuel filter and fuel lines if they are clogged or damaged.

7. Damaged Ignition Coil

The ignition coil might be the culprit if the fuel and airflow systems are in good working condition.

The ignition/starter coil sends voltage from the battery to the spark plug to enable it to provide the spark needed to start and run the engine.

If the coil becomes damaged, it will work for about 15-30 minutes and stop working. This can cause the engine to die because the spark needed to keep it running is not provided.


Use a spark tester to diagnose the ignition coil. If it does not produce a spark, it is damaged.


Replace the ignition coil. Unless you have some technical skills, I recommend taking the engine to an experienced small engine technician to replace the ignition coil.

8. Faulty Low Oil Sensor

The oil sensor monitors the oil level and kills the engine when the oil level gets too low to prevent engine damage. If your oil level isn’t low, the sensor could be faulty and might be reading the oil level incorrectly.

When this happens, it will stop the ignition system from igniting the fuel mixture and this can cause your Honda engine to die after starting.


Check your oil level and top it up if needed. Use a multimeter to test the oil sensor. It should pass voltage one way but not the other way, otherwise, it is damaged.

Also, disconnect the yellow and black wire of the oil sensor and start the engine. If it runs, the oil sensor is faulty.


Purchase a new sensor and replace the old one.

9. Damaged Flywheel/Flywheel Key


The flywheel helps to start and balance the engine to keep it running. It stores excess energy from the crankshaft as kinetic energy and provides energy in the compression, intake, and exhaust systems when needed to allow the engine to run. 

The flywheel key also breaks in half to protect the engine from getting damaged when the engine suddenly stops. 

When the flywheel or flywheel key gets damaged, the engine may die after running for some time. 


Check the flywheel and flywheel key for damage or cracks.


Replace the flywheel and flywheel key if damaged. This is best done by an experienced technician as it requires technical skills.


Your Honda GX160 may die after starting as a result of a clogged carburetor, stale fuel, clogged fuel cap vent, ignition problems, clogged fuel lines, and fuel filter, damaged flywheel, or a faulty low oil sensor.

Inspect the vital parts of the engine carefully to diagnose the problem and then apply the recommended fixes in this article to get your Honda engine running once again.