I have a GCV160E Honda lawn mower engine.

  • changed the oil and checked the spark plug and filter and sprayed penetrating oil round the linkages and the blade and left if for 48 hrs. I started it on fourth pull and I cut my back lawn.
  • I moved it round to the front and found it had used quite a lot of petrol.
  • placed a small amount into the tank and tried to start it. The cord was working freely but it wouldn't start.
  • left it a while and went back out after about fifteen minutes to find that there was petrol dripping through the air filter and exhaust. I could move the pull quite freely.
  • took the carb off and looked at the float in the float bowl. The carb was cleaned professionally last year and serviced professionally so I was surprised if it was going to be the float. I looked and couldn't see anything wrong with it.
  • cleaned it up and put the carb back on.
  • tried to start it and found the pull cord extremely stiff.
  • took the spark plug out there was petrol round the mounting.
  • checked that the brake was deploying properly and also I thought that it should pull now the spark plug is off but it won't.

  • I have taken the pull cord mounting off and it works perfectly fine.

  • tipped the whole engine upside down after draining the oil out of it and no petrol has come through the spark plug hole.
  • sprayed penetrating oil into the spark plug hole and left it and still I cannot pull the cord freely.
  • put some new oil in and have left it.

I cannot believe that a stuck float can cause catastrophic damage to the pistons if that is the problem. I am a little disappointed if this is the case. Can you think of anything else that could be impeding the cord from deploying? I didn't hit anything prior to the fuel leak through the filter and exhaust. I have also removed any debris around the blade and I could move it initially but not now.

  • Does the engine move at all? Or is it just hard to turn over? Apr 3, 2015 at 1:21
  • 1
    Disconnect the spark plug and see if the blades will turn. Do not turn the blade unless the spark plug is disconnected regardless of any safety features the mower might have.
    – Escoce
    Apr 3, 2015 at 20:01
  • If 4 stroke and running very rich, could have seized the engine by washing lubrication away and allowing it to overhead; but I think you would have noticed some smoke or smell before it froze.
    – sborsher
    Apr 6, 2015 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


Sounds like float stuck open filling the motor with gas and its hydrolocked. Probably didn't do any damage but to be sure, drain all fluids you can, REMOVE spark plug and turn engine over using either pull cord or turning the blade. be careful as spark plug can shock you, or gas fumes can ignite. Put a rag over spark plug hole and see if it spits out gas as you are turning engine over gently. It should be very easy to turn over without the sparkplug (no compression) Sometimes you cannot drain the cylinder completely without removing plug. Good luck.

  • @Julie already tried this, per reading the question. Engine does not turn over with spark plug removed. It's helpful to read the whole question before answering.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 7, 2015 at 15:56

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