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The fact that you’ve run out of fuel ISN’T one of them – you’ve checked, and there’s still fuel in your tank.

So, if you’ve still got fuel, what’s stopping it from getting to your engine?

Tune in to discover:

  • 5 reasons why fuel isn’t getting to your engine – whether your bike has fuel injection or a carburetor


Hello, and welcome to another episode of 30-minute Motorcycling – a podcast for those riders who are at the beginning of their own Dual Wheel Journey, where you’ll discover something new about how your motorcycle, moped, or scooter works – in less than 30 minutes.


“Why is my engine not getting fuel?” It’s not because your tank’s empty – you’ve checked, and there’s still fuel in there.


And it’s not because there’s a leak in one of your fuel hoses either – evidenced by the lack of puddles around your bike.


And yet, something is preventing fuel from getting to your engine. Why is this? Why is the engine not getting any fuel?


That’s the pressing question we’ll answer in this episode – with a whole 5 possible reasons why.


Firstly, does your bike have a carburetor? Then, you should check that the petcock or fuel tap is NOT still set to “Off.”


It might seem obvious, and perhaps you’re thinking that I’m just being a big jerk to you – you know, “well, obviously, the petcock has to be on, you knucklehead!”


But not every “issue” is caused by a mechanical failure – sometimes, the source of your problem is as simple as this – but the good news is that the solution to this “issue” is equally simple.


If you’re running a bike with a carburetor, you need to remember to set the petcock or “fuel tap” to “ON” before you set off.


There you go – the fuel should be flowing freely – unless, of course, you have one of the remaining 4 issues, such as the second one, which is clogged carburetor jets.


Even if the petcock or fuel tap is set to “ON,” the fuel doesn’t run straight from your fuel tank to the engine – it has to go through the carburetor first.


Specifically, it has to pass through one of the 3 carburetor jets, depending on how much the throttle is applied.


The 3 jets are:

  • The pilot jet: used for 15-20% throttle
  • The needle jet: used for 20-80% throttle
  • The main jet – used when the throttle is wide open


But if the jets are clogged up, the engine will not get the fuel it needs – it might get some of it, but it’s not enough – and it’s for this reason that a clogged carburetor jet causes your engine not to run as well as it should.


Moving on, the 3rd common reason for a lack of fuel flow to your engine is the fact that the carburetor float bowl is stuck or it has an incorrect height setting.


If you were to take apart your carburetor, like, say, if you were trying to clean out your jets, you’ll find a big yellow-looking thing at the bottom. That thing is your “float bowl,” and it has one purpose – control the fuel supply to the carburetor.


Before you ask, the reason why it’s called a “float bowl” is because as the carburetor fills up with fuel, the float bowl literally “floats.” When it reaches a certain point, the float will shut off the fuel flow by sealing off the needle valve.


At least, that’s what should happen. If the float bowl gets stuck on top of the needle valve, there’s no way for the fuel to flow into the carburetor – let alone the engine.


And if the float bowl’s height is adjusted incorrectly, it’s a similar sort of thing. Your engine might get fed a bit of fuel, but just like the clogged carburetor jets, it’s not enough.


So far, the problems about no fuel flow have all dealt with carburetors, and maybe you’re listening to this thinking, “but my bike’s got fuel injection – I don’t need to worry about that, right?”


Don’t be fooled, though – even fuel-injected bikes can have fuel flow problems. Instead of going through a series of carburetor jets, the fuel has to go through one or several fuel injectors.


If you’re not sure about the differences between carburetors and fuel injection, Episode 29 will give you more information about it.


But I digress – before the fuel can get there, it needs to be pumped from the tank through the fuel pump.


And I think that you’ve just figured out the 4th common fuel flow problem – a faulty fuel injector and/or fuel pump.


Although this rarely happens, fuel injectors and fuel pumps can break down. This is a topic for another episode, but as a brief summary, a fuel injector or fuel pump can fail because of:

  • A broken solenoid
  • Clogged injector nozzles
  • Or The fact that fuse for the fuel pump has blown


Now, let’s talk about the 5th and final reason why your engine isn’t getting any fuel. And this one is special – for two reasons:


Number one, this problem can affect BOTH bikes with carburetors and fuel injection


And number two: the issue is surprisingly not with any mechanical component – it’s rather with the fuel itself.


Ironically, even if you’ve got a full tank, it could be the source of your fuel flow problem – if the fuel is contaminated, that is.


But how is this possible? How does contaminated fuel affect fuel flow?


Well, contaminated fuel often contains dirt and debris, which are bad for your engine. You might not notice anything unusual at first, though – the fuel runs through your fuel systems just like non-contaminated fuel. 


But if you keep running contaminated fuel through your fuel hoses, you’ll experience serious engine issues like:

  • Engine knocking
  • Poor engine performance
  • Rough idling


And that’s not all – remember the previous issue we talked about? You know, the one about the faulty fuel injectors? The ones that were faulty because they were clogged?


Running contaminated fuel can cause your fuel injectors to get clogged up – meaning that you have one more problem to deal with. 


And those were 5 common reasons why your engine is not getting fuel – even if your tank still has fuel in it. 


I hope you enjoyed listening and, above all, that you learned something new. 


Until next time, keep your helmet on and your eyes on the road. Bye!