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Why Does My Rotavator Keep Cutting Out?

Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023

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Rotavators are complicated machines, and as with most other mechanical contraptions, they’re prone to fail when you really don’t want them to. As such, we felt it was time to talk about maintenance and answer a commonly-asked question – why does my rotavator keep cutting out?

Your rotavator keeps cutting out, more likely than not, due to improper maintenance and a lack of cleaning.

Let’s break that down a bit more, shall we?

Why Does My Rotavator Keep Cutting Out?

And finally, we make it to the truly technical part of this article. If your rotavator keeps cutting out, there are a few things to look at before calling it a day. While they’re not wildly complicated machines, as with all mechanized contraptions, rotavators need all of their parts working properly and in tandem.

If your rotavator keeps cutting out after 15-20 seconds, fret not! You aren’t alone. I scraped the web and found the most common causes of a rotavator cutting out and listed them below for your convenience:


This is the bit that mixes your fuel and air in the engine of your rotavator. They’re generally relatively easy to find replacements for, but the first step is to always clean them thoroughly first.

Fuel Line

Believe it or not, this is where the fuel travels from where it’s stored (the tank) to where it’s needed (the engine/carburettor). If this isn’t regularly cleaned, it will cause the engine to cut out – so clean it out!

Fuel Tank

This is where your fuel sits. If you have a used rotavator, inspect the tank for leftover fuel or bits of buildup and clean it out! Following this, check that you’re using the proper fuel – yes, you heard me right.

Always check your owner’s manual first to be sure, but the general rule of thumb is that you should use gasoline with 0-10% ethanol. Anything higher, and you’ll find that it will cut out randomly. You can also use E85 fuel in non-Honda rotavators, though be warned… Hondas do not like E85.


Speaking of fuel, make sure you’re using the right kind! Each manufacturer claims that a particular type of gas will serve it best, so it’s always good practise to use exclusively that mix of gas. If you’ve changed up your fuel recently, give the tank a clean and see if going back fixes the issue.


Seriously. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find forum answers for this issue tied back to a dirty part. Clean your things and they’re more likely to work.

In short, the most likely causes of a rotavator cutting out are a damaged or dirty carburettor, fuel line, or fuel tank, as well as improper fuel. Best practise for all motorised tools says to regularly clean and maintain them, and your rotavator is no different, so give it some love and you’ll find it’s returned tenfold.

Rotavator Oil & The Elements

This is the other major part that’s often forgotten in rotavator maintenance – oil. You need to pick the proper oil for the job, and not all types of oil are created equally. The general rule is that most (not all) rotavators are 4-stroke machines. This means that they use a different type of oil than your usual garden appliance (strimmers, chainsaws, lawnmowers).

You’re looking for one of two types of oil more often than not – SAE 30 oil or 10w/30 oil. The former is thicker and generally works better in hot engines (and therefore in hot weather). The latter flows more easily in cold temperatures, making it better for traditionally cold environments.

You’ll find that 10w/30 is generally more expensive, too. Unfortunately, that’s the price you pay to keep your rotavator up and running healthily.


All in all, rotavator maintenance boils down to three things: use the proper oil, clean your rotavator (inside and out) regularly, and check for failing or corroding parts. If you follow these three steps, your rotavator will function wonderfully for years to come; but if not, you’ll find quite a few issues. Always begin by cleaning out your parts with a rag and wire brush and only then should you replace a part. After all, no sense in wasting money, right?

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