How to Fix a Garden Tiller

Jongb35 Jan 3, 2012 Home & Garden
A step-by-step guide to help you fix your garden tiller

Any avid gardener knows that hard soil can be devastating to the growth of their plants, so owning and knowing how to repair a garden tiller can be extremely important to a successful garden. Garden tillers are vital in "softening" soil by rotating it, and many tillers are also capable of adding compost and other organic matter to the soil in an effort to allow plants to flourish. Thus, it is imperative for serious gardeners to not only own a tiller, but also ensure it is functioning properly. In the event that your garden tiller breaks, you can fix it by following a few simple steps.

Inspecting a Garden Tiller

First, check the gas cap to make sure it is properly venting the tank. It usually takes about 15 minutes for the tank to build a vacuum and stop gas flow if the cap is not efficiently venting. If it is not working, you will need to acquire a new gas cap. Next, make sure the fuel and oil levels are correct. Both fluids should fill their tanks to the designated line. For two-cycle tiller engines, be sure the engine is filled with the proper mixture of both oil and gasoline. Also, if you have not used the garden tiller recently, drain both fluids from the tool and replace them.

If gasoline and oil levels are fine, inspect the tiller's spark plug. The spark plug wire is generally located on the side of the tiller. Remove the spark plug using a spark plug removal tool. If the plug is damaged in any way, it will need to be replaced.
Often times, there will be problems with the plug's gap. To test this, you will need a spark plug gapping tool. Compare the gap size to that which is recommended in the instruction manual.

Rusting will also frequently cause the spark plug to malfunction, so make sure your spark plug is free of rust. If rust is present, the spark plug will need to be replaced. If your plug is rust-free, clean it with a towel and re-attach it to your tiller.

Cleaning a Garden Tiller

Remove the air filter cover and inspect for debris. If your foam filter is dirty, either replace it or clean it using warm water and dishwashing soap.

Check the compression valves to make sure they are at the levels recommended in your owner's manual. When these are not set correctly, the engine heats up, causing the valve clearance to shrink and the engine to lose compression. This is a common solution if your tiller is slowly quitting.

If your garden tiller is still malfunctioning, remove any excess dirt from the rototiller. Be sure to wear gardening gloves before doing this. Also inspect the blades for any bends or rust.

Check for Bent Tines

If your tines are bent, you will need to purchase new ones. Remove the old tines using the instructions provided by the replacement tine packaging. It is crucial that you do not use a tiller with bent blades or tines. Once these are repaired, your garden tiller should be good as new.

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