From dirty air filter to faulty low oil sensor, from clogged fuel valve to stale gasoline there may be numerous reasons why your Caterpillar won t start. Let us examine what to do in such a situation!

Caterpillar Generator

 We often rely on standby generators to provide us with electricity in case of a power outage. And most of the time, these useful machines perform as they are expected. However, there could be instances when these machines fail to start, and you could be stuck in a situation with no electricity.

Power generators are often operated infrequently, which means that there are no monthly tests or inspections happening to ensure that all parts of the machinery are working properly. This could result in various problems, resulting in the generator underperforming.

While there are several brands of generators available in the market, one of the most trusted brands is Caterpillar, a generator manufacturer that has earned itself a reputation for providing highly-functional, reliable, and robust alternate power sources that work to the best of our expectations. They are not only efficient but are made to perform in the most challenging conditions.

No wonder they are a common sight in commercial establishments where the need for alternate power is paramount.

Despite their quality and trustworthy built, they can conk off in crucial times and can hamper your business or production line. This is the time when you need some basic information about what to do if your Caterpillar generator won’t start.

The reasons could be many. From not having enough fuel or low oil levels to clogged filters and carburetors, these things are commonplace and often occur due to insufficient maintenance and infrequent use. In this blog, we will tell you about the main reasons behind a generator not starting, and how to fix those issues.

Battery failure

A dead battery is one of the most common reasons why a generator won’t start, precisely like the case with a car battery. This could either happen due to a loose connection of deposition of lead sulfate crystals on the plates of the lead-acid batteries. Not using the generator for a prolonged period of time is yet another common reason for a battery failure.

The best way to ensure such a situation doesn’t arise is to start the generator frequently, clean the batteries and ensure that they are kept in good running condition. In case you need to troubleshoot this problem, you can make use of the auxiliary recoil starter that came with your generator.

And yes, this holds true for both – a new generator as well as a used one.

Insufficient coolant

All generators are designed in such a way that they shut down the moment they overheat. This is where a coolant comes into action. It ensures that the optimal operating temperature in a generator is maintained so that it can continue running.

If the coolant levels are low, the temperature will increase, and the engine will shut down. Untimely refill of the coolant and undesired coolant leak is the most common reasons for its low level. You must regularly check the coolant levels and if you see a decrease in its level, you must refill immediately.

Caterpillar generator repair

A Bad Mix of Fuel 

We all know that all mechanical machines work on fuel. If there is no fuel in the engine, it will not start. Another reason could be a bad mix of fuel, which could happen for the following reasons:

  • If the fuel runs out, and the engine only receives air and no fuel
  • The air intake is insufficient. This means that there is enough fuel, but the air supply is not enough
  • There is too much or too little fuel supply to the mix. This results in improper combustion within the engine
  • The fuel is contaminated. There could be impurities in the fuel, seeping of water inside the fuel tank, or bad quality fuel. This can further give way to a blocked fuel filter and fuel pipe.

It is best to keep using the generator consistently to keep it working in top condition. Then again, you can drain the fuel tank completely and replenish it with fresh gasoline.

The Control Panel “Auto Mode” Problem

If the main control switch is left in off or reset mode, it will show ‘Not in Auto’ message and the generator will not start.

Regularly inspect the control panel messages so that you can reset the control panels in case there is a discrepancy.

Fuel or Oil Leak

If the fuel or oil is leaking from the generator, it will not start as desired. A fuel leak is usually easily detectable because of the odor it gives out.

This could be a result of a malfunctioning fuel pump or a broken fuel line. Fix them immediately to save further damage. An oil leak, on the other hand, is caused by wet stacking – a condition where engine oil, fuel, or other similar liquids get accumulated in the exhaust pipes.

This can happen due to malfunctioning fuel injection tips or faulty crankcase breathers that are responsible for releasing excess oil as the generator vents.

Timely maintenance will ensure that there is no fuel or oil leak. In case you need to check the oil level, simply use a dipstick to do so, and see if the level is as per the manufacturer’s guideline – which in this case is Caterpillar.

Clogged Fuel Line

In case, there was leftover fuel in the carburetor or gas tank before stowing away the generator, chances are that you have a clogged fuel valve, in addition to the clogged carburetor.

To break out from this problem, open the fuel valve as well as the vacuum relief valve of the generator. If this doesn’t help, then unplug the hose from the fuel valve, and check if it allows for the free flow of fuel.

Spark Plug Malfunctions

Spark plugs initiate the ignition process by providing and strong, blue-colored spark. If there is any fault with the spark plug, the ignition process will not be completed. Spark plugs often malfunction due to carbon deposits on the electrodes. This can burn or damage the electrodes, resulting in a malfunctioning spark plug.

Clean them regularly to ensure they continue performing well. You can also check the spark plug by placing it close to the spark plug meter. If you see strong and blue-colored sparks, it means the spark plug is working fine. If the sparks are weak, you might want to replace it.

Carburetor clogging

The carburetor is responsible for sending the right mix of fuel and air to the engine. In case of a clogged carburetor, this process doesn’t happen, resulting in the generator engine not starting. The clogging can happen in the engine if left alone without being used for a long period of time. This contaminates the fuel. When the fuel evaporates, it leaves behind a thick substance on the carburetor, resulting in clogging.

Keeping the carburetor clean is the easiest way of ensuring clogging doesn’t happen. Another way to keep it working fine is by using a fuel stabilizer. The stabilizer stops the fuel from evaporating and thus stops the accumulation or clogging of the carburetor.

Plugged in Generator

If a generator is plugged into an electronic device, it will not start, even if the electronic device is not switched on.

To fix this problem, you must unplug your generator and remove all cords attached to ensure it starts as desired.

Our Take

Caterpillar Generator

Caterpillar generators assure quality performance, great durability, and a long lifespan. However, if they are not maintained well or used frequently, some issues can crop up. The best way to ensure that these generators continue providing power whenever required is to frequently use them and keep them in good condition. A machine, when not used for long, will start malfunctioning and if left alone for long, can demand costly repairs or replacements of parts. You not only end up spending extra money but also reduce the overall efficiency of the machine. So, if your generator doesn’t start, follow the above-mentioned steps.

More often than not, these steps will fix the issue, but if the problem persists, you must call in a professional technician to examine and fix the issue. It is advisable to call in a technician from Caterpillar as they possess the best knowledge, experience, and expertise in handling and fixing Caterpillar generators. If not, you can always rely on our team of experienced technicians to do the job for you!

FAQs About Caterpillar Generator won’t start

How to clean a carburetor?

Here are the steps that you need to follow to clean a clogged carburetor –

  1. Close the fuel valve
  2. Remove the bowl placed at the carburetor’s bottom
  3. Using a brush clean the fuel debris
  4. Clean the brass jet nozzle with the help of a safety pin
  5. Turn the fuel valve on

Can a Faulty Ignition Coil result in the generator not working?

Unfortunately yes. The ignition coil is essentially responsible to send voltage to the spark plug when the engine runs. A defective ignition coil will not be able to send the required voltage, thus leading to starting issues. In this case, it is best to rely on a technician’s advice and see if it is the ignition coil or the spark plug that needs to be replaced.