Hobbies Cars & Motorcycles How to Clean a Carburetor Bad gas is the most common reason for needing to clean it Share PINTEREST Email Print Cars & Motorcycles Cars How Tos Buying & Selling Basics Reviews Tools & Products Classic Cars Exotic Cars Corvettes Mustangs Tires & Wheels Motorcycles Used Cars SUVs Trucks ATVs & Off Road Public Transportation By Matt Finley Matt Finley is a sports writer specializing in off-road recreation. He has covered ATV, 4x4, motocross, and motorcycles for outlets including ATV magazine, MX Affiliate magazine, and ATV Source. our editorial process Matt Finley Updated January 13, 2020 You might need to clean a carburetor for several reasons, but one of the more common is bad gas. If you don't run an engine frequently, the gas inside the carburetor can get old and go bad, thickening and causing the small parts to stick. You'll know you need to clean the carburetor if the gas smells like lacquer thinner or turpentine or has some other nongas, funky chemical odor. Knowing how to take apart and reassemble a basic carburetor can save you time and money. It requires just a couple of hours and you won't have to pay someone else to do it. Most single-barrel carbs are fairly similar in design, so this method should work on many engine/carburetor combos. Take a few photos along the way so you'll know how everything hooks up when you're ready to put it back together. Here are the basic steps: 01 of 10 Remove Air Filter Matt Finley Shut off the fuel supply and disconnect the spark plug wire for safety. Then take off the air filter, which is often behind or inside an air box. A wing nut holds down the filter and comes out easily. Remove the outer element and clean it using a filter cleaner such as Yamalube Biodegradable Foam Air Filter Oil or compressed air. Clean the seal areas and remove any sand, dirt, or grease. 02 of 10 Remove Linkage and Hoses Matt Finley Remove any linkage and hoses. Springs and such can be removed with pliers, hooks, or screwdrivers. Move everything out of the way, being careful not to break or bend anything. 03 of 10 Remove Carburetor Matt Finley Remove the bolts and nuts holding the carburetor to the engine. Lightly shift the carb back and forth to break it loose and pull it off the studs, taking note of gasket locations and orientations. Using rags or paper towels, plug any large openings you end up with to prevent dirt and debris from getting in. 04 of 10 Clean Outside With Compressed Air Matt Finley The outside of the carburetor will be crusted with dirt and sand. Blow off as much excess as you can, avoiding blowing it into the openings. 05 of 10 Remove Float Cover Matt Finley Use a small glass container to catch any gas remaining in the float. Remove the bolt at the bottom of the carburetor and remove the float cover by pulling it straight down. Be careful not to spill the small amount of gas probably remaining in the float. 06 of 10 Remove Float Pin Matt Finley The float pivots on a pin. Carefully pull it straight out. Take care not to drop it; it will likely bounce away in an odd direction. 07 of 10 Remove Float Matt Finley Carefully pull the float straight out, noting how it came out. You might try putting it back together immediately so you'll be more familiar with it. 08 of 10 Remove Other Parts Matt Finley There may be other items on the carburetor that you should remove to allow access for cleaning. Note their locations and watch for springs. Parts such as idle adjustment screws might not need to be removed if they are mechanical and on the outside of the carb body. 09 of 10 Clean Body and Parts in Solvent Once you've removed all the major moving parts, clean the carburetor in a solvent bath with something green, such as Simple Green. Using a brush, clean off the dirt on the outside, getting as much off as you can, especially near openings. Clean the inside with a light stream of solvent or a very light burst of air. Make sure to clean the tiny vents. Clean the small parts in the solvent as well. 10 of 10 Dry Carburetor and Reassemble After you've cleaned everything, make sure to get all the solvent out of the carb. Turn it around and gently shake it. Use air to clear the fuel and air flow areas. Then let it air dry completely. When you're confident it's dry, reverse the steps to put everything back together. To clean out any leftover bad gas, run a small amount of clean, fresh fuel through the tank and fuel line before attaching it to the carb. Once the carb is back together and mounted to the engine and all the hoses and linkage are reattached and the spark plug wire is connected, add some fuel and go for it.