How to Clean and Adjust a 2-Cycle Carburetor

Angry 2-Cycle Carburetor

2-Cycle carburetors are tiny but terrifying.

This DIY Guide will teach you how to clean and adjust a 2-cycle carburetor.  If you have questions or comments please feel free to contact us using the comments section below or our contact form.


The information provided below is not presented as the one and only, end all-be all, works the same every single time (so its our fault if it doesn’t work) instruction manual on how to repair every two cycle carburetor ever made. This is a generalized tutorial, which will (hopefully) provide a familiarization with the components of the basic, two cycle carburetor.

I feel compelled to say that because from time to time we run into folks that seem to believe that because its on a web site, it somehow re-writes reality. The truth is, you have your carburetor in hand. I can’t see it, so go with what you know. When in doubt, give us a shout.

So, let’s get that carburetor cleaned and adjusted.

Tools Required:

  1. Carburetor Cleaner- A good quality aerosol cleaner will work. We prefer Briggs and Stratton carburetor cleaner use what you choose or what you have laying around.
  2. A Phillips head screwdriver.
  3. A clean, well lit place to work. Perhaps a nice ergonomic workbench.
  4. A spill container that will minimize the splash from the carburetor cleaner.
  5. Clean Rags.
  6. Safety glasses or goggles. Latex gloves aren’t a bad idea either.
  7. Compressed air to dry the carb, or a clean place to allow it to air dry

The correct rebuild or gasket / diaphragm kit for your carburetor- 9 out of 10 times, your carburetor will be manufactured by one of two companies: Zama or Walbro. can help you determine which carburetor repair kit is right for your carburetor.

There are probably lots of other tools designed to complete this task. I don’t know that they are truly necessary…maybe they are. But so far, I’ve managed to muddle through without most of them.


Lets start by removing the carburetor from the engine.

This will most likely involve removing the air filter and air filter base and disconnecting the fuel lines and possibly a cable.

Often, we are looking at a couple of bolts holding the thing onto the engine. Just be careful, don’t strip the bolts. When in doubt, give us a shout.

Be mindful of any cables or fuel lines that may be attached to the carburetor. You are going to have to reconnect those later, so it might not hurt to mark them before removing them or take a photo with your cell phone.

The outside of your carburetor is probably a little dirty. So, let’s take it over to your cleaning area and spray the mess off of it. Liberal use is recommended.

Remember, any debris left on the outside of the carburetor can and probably will get inside of the carburetor, so be as thorough as possible.


There are varying assemblies for these little carburetors. The important thing to remember is to lay the parts out in order as you remove them. They are tiny, they disappear easily and its way too easy to get confused. Oh, and finding assembly diagrams may be helpful before you begin.

Check out the following:     Walbro        Zama


Let’s start with the metering diaphragm cover, which is at the side opposite of the primer bulb.

  • Remove the two to four retaining screws and the cover itself. It may be stuck on there a bit, but a light tap on the side or prying it from the carburetor may be in order. Since you will be replacing the diaphragm don’t be too concerned about damaging the existing one.
  • Remove the diaphragm. That’s the weird looking little film like part. Probably black, might have a little metal disc in the center of it (See Image). It should be playable but it’s probably hard as a rock.  Thanks Ethanol!
  • If you are installing a new one, which we highly recommend since they are so cheap. Go ahead and discard the old one now. If not, set it in order with the other parts; we’ll get to that later.

Next is the diaphragm and gasket.

Removing the gasket may damage it, so before you remove it, you need to decide if you’re going to reuse it or replace it.

  • Take a good look at it. If you intend to reuse it, you may want to just keep it where it is. If it’s in good shape, leave it be.
  • However, if its in bad shape, or if you intend to install a new one, just go ahead; remove it and discard it now.

You’ll be looking at the needle and spring now. Here’s where the screw driver comes in.

  • Place a finger over the needle and needle arm. We don’t need that thing shooting across the shop when you remove the retaining screw.
  • Remove the retaining screw and set it in order.
  • The needle, arm and spring will remove easily now. Set them in their respective places.


Now, let’s flip it over and remove the primer bulb.

  • The primer bulb will be held in with a metal plate and two / four small retaining screws.
  • Remove the screws and set them aside.
  • Remove the retaining plate. The primer bulb will come with it.
  • Inspect your primer bulb. If it’s in good shape, you may want to keep it. If not, pop the old one out of the hole in the retaining plate and push a new one in.

My advice is, if its more than a year old just replace it. I mean, you have the thing taken apart and you’re going to have to replace it some time so why not knock it out now?   Just one guy talkin. 

The next part should be the primer base. Old gas gets sticky, so you may have to gently pry it off.

  • Remove the primer base.
  • Once again, we may have one or more thin, mylar diaphragms or reed valves. Carefully peel them off. if they come apart, time to get out the old rebuild kit.
  • Beneath the reed valve is another gasket. Refer to the gasket above.
  • Inspect them for damage. Discoloration, tearing, cracks, shmutz, any of those things and it’s time to replace them.


So, we’ve effectively stripped the carburetor down to its base components. Well done! Now, let’s move the carburetor body back to our cleaning area and work that thing over.

Time to put on your eye wear.

  • Place the carburetor inside of your spray container.
  • Using the carburetor cleaner liberally, remove any dust or debris. Make sure that you get all the nooks and cranny’s cuz “dirts causes troubles”!

Warning: There are tiny little holes all over your carburetor that you’re going to want to clean out. Just be aware that what goes into one hole is going to come spraying out another hole, and not necessarily in the direction you might think. Those things are like a tiny, little water slides inside there!

WALBRO 140-70-8 FUEL INLET SCREENYou may discover a small filter screen recessed into the carburetor body. It could become damage during removal, so if you intend to take it out, make sure your rebuild kit comes with a new one. Otherwise, if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it.

Compressed air is a great way to speed up the drying process. If you don’t have compressed air, best to just let it air dry in a well ventilated area.

Carburetor cleaner is flammable! Do not dry with a hair dryer or open source of flame!  You probably shouldn’t smoke while using it either.


  • Once again, let’s head over to the cleaning area.
  • Use the carb cleaner to clean the primer base, once again paying attention to all of the little openings.
  • Wash, dry, all that jazz. Now set it in its spot.


These are tiny little paper and mylar pieces so we want to be extra careful.

Visually inspect the diaphragm(s) and gasket. If they look ok (intact, re-usable), and you’re not replacing them, then set them aside to re-install later.

They’re pretty delicate, so I don’t recommend trying to clean them unless they’re visually corroded or gummed up. If you’re going to clean them, remember: they’re tiny and plastic so be careful. A little carb cleaner, a gentle wipe with your clean cloth and you should be good.

If you’ve taken my advice then all of your parts are laid out in the order in which they were removed. Now, all you have to do is go back down the line and put it all back together in the order it was laid out.

If not, here’s a guide:

  1. Reinstall needle spring
  2. Reinstall needle, lever and retaining screw
  3. Reinstall diaphragm
  4. Reinstall diaphragm gasket
  5. Reinstall base plate
  6. Reinstall base plate screws
  7. Reinstall mylar reed valve
  8. Reinstall primer base
  9. Reinstall primer bulb
  10. Reinstall retaining plate
  11. Reinstall retaining plate screws

So there you go. You have a nice, clean, sparkling two cycle carburetor.

Put her back on the machine and lets see if that took care of it. If she’s purring like a kitten, then your carb could be salvaged with a good cleaning. Well done! If not, it may be time to get a new carburetor or have a technician look at it.

We hope this was informative and helpful. If anyone out there has an great tips on how to make this even easier, send them in. We’re a small army of small engine experts! Let’s share the info!

We carry a large selection of Small Engine Carburetor Parts. If you need help finding your Small Engine Parts, please complete the Lawn Mower Parts Request Form and we will be happy to assist you.


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About Bill Brown 12 Articles
Bill is the head of content creation for the LawnMowerPros Blog and DIY section. He’s been in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry for years and he’s still learning new things everyday. You can often find him creating featured articles, DIY guides, videos, graphics and much more.