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Rick, Factory Authorized Trainer
Category: Small Engine
Satisfied Customers: 8063
Experience:  Outdoor Power Equipment technical trainer since 1990, covering eight states.
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my 23 hp Kohler engine wont start-the starter is working fine-the

Customer Question

my 23 hp Kohler engine won't start-the starter is working fine-the battery is almost new-but when you try to crank it-it will turn over once or twice and not crank- and sometimes only start to turn over and not-the starter switch is new too. I'm stuck?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Small Engine
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
Hello, and thank you for choosing JustAnswer. I'll be helping you today and am committed to providing clear and concise answers to your question.

Does it turn over normally if you remove the spark plug? What model and spec is this engine?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

it only turns over a little then stops when you remove both plugs. Model #NNN-NN-NNNN/p>

50" garden tractor Craftsman.

Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
So with both plugs out, it's still not turning over? That rules out a compression problem then and points toward electrical or binding on the engine.

If you jump across the two top terminals of the solenoid with a screwdriver shaft, being careful to hold onto the insulated handle and not letting the screwdriver blade touch anything other than the terminals, does it crank over?

Have you tried it with the belts removed to make sure there's not a parasitic load on the engine? Do you have a voltmeter to do some electrical troubleshooting? If so, what is the voltage reading off the battery at rest and also whe you crank the starter? Does it drop more than two volts?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Jumping across the two top terminals of the solenoid with a screwdriver does not crankthe engine. no voltage meter.
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
Do you have someone you may be able to borrow a volt meter from? Or even one from Walmart for about $15 would suffice. We'll need that after the next test.

After you remove the belts and check for normal starting to make sure it's not a parasitic load from one of the belts, then also with the belts off try turning the engine over by hand and see if it turns freely. If this doesn't locate a problem, then we are looking at electrical.
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
Also, don't want to overlook this...

I'm assuming you check the cables for any damage or corrosion? Everything in good shape, especially the black cable well-grounded to the frame?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I got a volt meter and set it on 10 volts and it registered 10 volts off the battery at rest and when I tried to crank it it fell to 6 volts.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
cables well grounded
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
That battery is the problem then. It may be a bad battery ir it may be a faulty charging system on the engine. I would charge the battery and see if it starts. If the battery won't take a charge you know it's bad, but since it's faily new, it's probably okay. Then once it's started check the voltage again with the engine running at full throttle. You should be getting about 13-14 VDC so the battery will charge. If you're not, then check for AC voltage before it goes into the regulator/rectifier. You should be getting at least 28 VAC if the stator coil is working.

I can post a manual for you with troubleshooting info on the charging system if it would be helpful.
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
Since I'll be going offline for the evening, I'll go ahead and post the manual for you just to be safe. Information is in section 8 with a troubleshooting chart on 8.22.


Hope this helps!
Rick and 2 other Small Engine Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Koler Engine: Modle # XXXXX - spec # XXXXX - serial # XXXXX I started thwe engine for about a minute and it sounded bad and quit. after this the starter turned the flywheel easier but would not fire off or crank the engine.
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
I need clarification please. I take it you charged the battery? Whats's the voltage reading now? You mentioned that the electric starter turned the flywheel easier, but then said it would not crank the engine? Let's make sure we understand each other terminology. By not cranking you mean the electric starter is no longer turning the engine over?

Did the engine quit running on it's own when it first started? What do you mean by running bad? Was it loping? Wouldn't come up to speed?

Sounds like we have more than one problem here we need to work through.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The electric starter is turning the engine better than ever it justwont start. The engine stoppped on its own. Whenit was running it sounded like it was missing and making a noise. The engine run up to speed for a minute then stopped. The engine cranks fine it just wont fire off and run.
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
Does it have spark? You can check by removing the spark plug from the engine, putting the coil wire back on it and placing the plug in contact with the metal block. In a shaded or darkened area you should see a nice blue spark. Be careful and do not to touch the plug while doing this, just the insulator cap, we don't want to hear about you getting an unpleasant shock.

If it does have spark, squirt about a tablespoon of gas in the spark plug hole, then replace the plug and see if it starts. It won't run for long most likely, we're just determining if it's a fuel problem or a spark problem.

Let me know and we'll continue.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I removed both spart plugs and both plugs were sparking fine. I put some gas into the plug holes and tried to start and it would not start. I know its getting gas because after several times to start I can smell the gas when I pull the plugs out.
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
If you're getting both spark and fuel, that only leaves compression which is the third requirement to start. Do you have a compression gauge to take a cylinder reading? If not, if you put your thumb over the spark plug hole and crank it do you feel compression stong and similar in both cylinders?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I put a compression gauge on the plug hole and got zero compression on both cylinders.
Expert:  Rick replied 5 years ago.
Zero on both? That's really odd. Are you sure it was sealing well and the gauge is good? If you take off the rocker box cover do you see both valves opening and closing when it cranks over?