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How to clean a John Deere lawn mower gas tank?

Customer Question
My wife filled the gas...

My wife filled the gas tank on our John Deere lawn tractor with gas that had become contaminated with water during a recent flood.

During the flooding the gas can had tipped over and laid in a pool of water for a number of hours and I guess I forgot to tell her. We are unsure how much water is in the gas. Anyway she drove it for maybe 5 minutes and then it stopped working. What is the best solution?

Submitted: 11 years ago.Category: Small Engine
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Answered in 1 minute by:
10/6/2011
Technician: James W, Small Engine Troubleshooting Expert replied 11 years ago
James W
James W, Small Engine Troubleshooting Expert
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 3,715
Experience: 7 years as Mechanic & Parts Manager for Brother who has Owned Lawn & Garden Repair shop for 35 years
Verified

You will have to clean the carburetor and the gas line and the gas tank.

Start by removing the gas line from the carburetor

AT the carburetor..Then drain the gas tank totally into a can Drains faster with the gas cap off..Take the bowl of the carburetor off and drain it completely


Buy a product called mechanic in a bottle.. expensive and cheap at the same time. about $8 for 4 or 5 ounces but worth it Buy some FRESH 92 octane or higher gasoline. Buy a new spark plug and a new fuel filter, pour a couple cups of fresh gas through the gas line letting it drain into the can as well replace the fuel filter with a new one. Take the spark plug out spray some WD 40 into the spark plug hole (WD40 stands for water displacement 40th attempt at creating a good formula).


Notice I never said put the bowl of the carb back on or the fuel line back on yet. If your unit has a fuel pump, we need to empty it out by crank the motor over a few times. Gas should exit the gas lines. This also will dry out the cylinder and push any water out the spark plug hole. Hook the bowl back up making sure to get the needle in the right valve place. Try again.. Hook the bowl back up making sure to get the needle valve in the right place so it mates with the seat

Hook the fuel line back up to the carburetor. POUR ALL of the mechanic in a bottle into the Hopefully Empty and dry gas tank. I guess I should have said Make sure the gas tank is dry and has no water in it before you hook up the gas lines, but I assumed that after you had poured the several cups of gas in the tank, the water would have been chased out since it is heavier

Anyway, what we want is for the Mechanic in a bottle to be the first (and only) fluid in the carburetor. You might want to chase the mechanic in a bottle with a couple cups of gas. Stir to start the engine so it runs for a couple seconds on the mechanic in a bottle.But is is more important to just make sure the mechanic in a bottle has filled the carb completely then let it sit for about 6 to 12 hours after that, put about a gallon of gas in the tank and start the engine. If it starts great, let it run.


If it does not start remove the spark plug (s) that I forgot to tell you to put back in.

and put a teaspoon of gas in the spark plug holes. hen start the engine and let it run. It should be fine now, But I would change the engine oil and filter ASAP because it will likely also be contaminated.

James W
James W, Small Engine Troubleshooting Expert
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 3,715
Experience: 7 years as Mechanic & Parts Manager for Brother who has Owned Lawn & Garden Repair shop for 35 years
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Customer reply replied 11 years ago
Ok I think I understand what to do. I take it there are no short cuts like "dry gas" that might work? Dennis
Technician: James W, Small Engine Troubleshooting Expert replied 11 years ago

Actually, the Mechanic in a bottle IS the shortcut, here is what you have to do if the mechanic in a bottle does Not work. Plus more info on this new product..

As engines sit or get older, fuel that is left in the carburetor can turn to gum and varnish and cause this and other problems. Also, any gasoline that was left in a gas can for a period of more than 30 days must be discarded because it also has begun to turn to varnish.

Today's gasoline contain MTBE and alcohol. (Ethanol) They turn to "Junk and garbage" very quickly. Alcohol absorbs water. And they call it "Oxygenated fuels! It is the oxygen (and the water) that breaks down the organic compounds in the fuel and turns the gas to "Garbage" (Gum and varnish) The fuels we had just a few years ago had no alcohol in it and would store for longer periods of time before going stale.

Fuel stabilizers do almost nothing to prevent the fuel from going bad with the changes in today's fuels. The whole point of a fuel stabilizer is to form an oily film on the surface of stored gasoline whether in the tank or in a gas can. The idea was to keep oxygen away from the gasoline to prevent breakdown. Since the fuel is already oxygenated, the fuel stabilizer concept is null and void. These fuels start to degrade immediately upon the addition of the ethanol.

Do not buy gas from the "Discount" Stations. The discount stations get a reduced price on gas because they may be buying fuel that is nearly 30 days old already. You may be getting fuel that's nearly stale right from the pump when buying from a discount station. Purchase your fuel from the well-known stations such as Shell, BP, Sonoco, Phillips 66 etc.

More than 70% of all of our repairs in our small engine repair business are due to these same issues. You most likely have dirt, gum, varnish...etc in your carburetor plugging up the small passageways and jets in the carburetor.

The carburetor will need to be cleaned and overhauled as well as the rest of the fuel system.

  • If you plan to do the work yourself, take pictures with your digital camera or at least make a drawing of where all the linkages, gaskets, and component parts go. Correct reassembly is critical.
  • Remove the carburetor from the engine.
  • Remove all of the non-metallic parts since the carburetor cleaner will cause them to be disfigured decompose and plug the carburetor as time goes on.
  • Clean all parts with carburetor cleaner.
  • Blow out all the small holes and passageways with compressed air.
  • Use a tiny stiff wire such as is found on the twist tie on a loaf of bread or on a garbage bag to open all tiny passageways found in the carburetor such as in the screw, nut, or jet holding the bowl of the carburetor on (if it has a bowl). Make sure to look for tiny holes in the bottom and side threads of the bowl nut or nozzle a make sure they are clear with the wire.
  • Wash the carburetor cleaner off of the metal parts by washing them in warm, soapy water then rinsing with clean water.
  • Dry all carburetor parts by blowing it off with compressed air.
  • Make sure that all the passageways are blown dry before reassembling (you do not want water back in the carburetor).
  • Reassemble the carburetor using a NEW carburetor rebuild kit.
  • NOTE: DO NOT TRY TO REASSEMBLE WITHOUT USING A COMPLETE CARBURETOR KIT! You will just end up having to do the job again.
  • Find the Model, type and serial or code numbers off of the engine and take them to your local dealer to get the carburetor repair kit.
  • ALWAYS clean the fuel tank and replace the fuel line when doing this repair or you may have to do it all over again. The inside of the fuel line disintegrates over time and these small pieces of rubber will plug up the carburetor too. Dirt and water from a dirty fuel tank will also plug up the carburetor. If this happens, you will be starting over again from the top.

In an Emergency such as a blizzard where you cannot get out to buy a carburetor kit until the plows come through, or during an emergency power outage and you need a generator running even if it runs poorly, you might try the following if your carburetor is the type that has a bowl. Sometimes this procedure works:

While the carburetor is still mounted to the engine:

  • Pinch the fuel line with a pair of vice grips to stop the fuel from going to the carburetor.
  • Remove the bowl nut (or nozzle from the bottom of the carburetor and let the fuel drain from the bowl.
  • Carefully remove the bowl from the carburetor without letting the needle and seat and float fall out of position (if it does, no big deal, but you will have to reassemble it, which is harder with the carburetor on the unit).
  • Dump all of the Gunk out of the bowl and put the bowl back into position.
  • Use a tiny stiff wire such as is found on the twist tie on a loaf of bread or on a garbage bag to open all tiny holes in the screw, bowl nut, or nozzle that was holding the bowl of the carburetor on (if it has a bowl). Make sure to look for tiny holes in the bottom and side threads of the bowl nut or nozzle a make sure they are clear with the wire.
  • Reassemble and see if you got lucky.

You may be able to finish the job at hand then clean and overhaul the carburetor correctly when you have more time and a new carburetor overhaul kit.

If you don't feel comfortable with these kinds of repairs, or if the carburetor still doesn't work correctly after your attempt, I would suggest sending it to a profession repair shop with a reputation for having friendly, knowledgeable, experienced service technicians. It would be best to take it to someone who has an "Ultra-sonic" cleaning machine. This machine uses a very mild carburetor cleaner in concert with ultrasonic vibrations to get the very small passageways clean. This method is very effective even when traditional methods fail.

There is a New Product that you can try.

http://www.b3cfuelsolutions.com/html/mib.html

It is designed to help clean the carburetor without damaging the diaphragms and rubber parts like regular carburetor cleaner. Click on this site and it will tell you all about it. http://www.b3cfuelsolutions.com/html/mib.html

The mechanic in a bottle is NOT a conventional carburetor cleaner.

It actually breaks down the varnish into it molecular components and it completely dissolves. It DOE NOT clog up the jets as conventional carburetor cleaners do. Conventional carb cleaners just loosen the varnish and the varnish particles will go into the jets and filters and clog them up.... usually causing much more problems that was originally there. The conventional carb cleaners also will loosen the "GUMK" that has formed in the gas tanks and cause all of that gunk to go through the carburetor as well.

The Mechanic in a BOTTLE is a completely revolutionary product that will in many cases alleviate the need to tear the carburetor down and rebuilt it..... unless there is mechanical wear and tear that would require that parts be replaced. In addition, the special formula actually is designed to soften and restore the rubber parts in the carburetor such as the needle and seats and gaskets.

Mechanic in a bottle is NOT a cure-all but it can help customer get going in many cases without them having to tear the carburetor apart. If the customer is NOT mechanically inclined, it might save them a trip to the repair shop. Yes I was very skeptical about this product when I first was introduced to it, but the Distributor demonstrated it and we have tried it on many occasions with terrific results. Otherwise you will have to clean and rebuild the carburetor.

As for "DRY GAS". Today's gas IS dry gas and that is a huge problem.

With 10% alcohol, it is dry, attracts water, and does not lubricate as well. It washes oil away from the cylinder and rings, and dries out gaskets and diaphragms. It is very responsible for many engine problems today.

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James W
James W
James W, Small Engine Troubleshooting Expert
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 3,715
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