Common Engine Starting Problems

If you are a pilot or mechanic, standard engine malfunctions within carburetor and fuel-injected systems can be a common occurrence when attempting to start your aircraft; that can be especially said for individuals still learning how to fly. Improperly starting an aircraft engine, even if unintentional, can cause long-term damage further down the line. Frequent mistakes often made by a pilot when starting an engine include over-priming, engine flooding, multiple engine start attempts, attempting to start a cold-soaked engine, and using too much throttle when starting the vehicle. Within this blog, to better understand why start-up issues occur and how to best prevent them, we will go over common mistakes made by pilots and how precautionary measures can be taken to help mitigate further concerns.


As oil tends to thicken when exposed to below-freezing temperatures, priming is a necessary step in warming up oil in an inactive engine without using the carburetor. When in the process of being primed, fuel is injected into the engine’s intake manifolds within the combustion cylinders in order to get the engine started. Typically done when igniting an engine in varying weather conditions at or below twenty degrees Fahrenheit, if not primed, oil within the engine will remain cold. Viscous and harder to flow, when starting the ignition process, cold oil poses a risk for collapsing engine filters, high oil pressure, and engine failure. An over-primed aircraft can be identified through the lingering smell of fuel and fuel leakage from the cowling and exhaust pipe.

Starting a Cold-Soaked Engine

Like over-priming, starting a cold-soaked engine that has been exposed to freezing temperatures needs to be done with care. A common issue caused by abruptly starting a freezing-cold engine, engine failure of this variety can be prevented through the aid of a heat source. If not properly maintained, items within the engine, such as the pistons, can experience enough wear and tear equating to 500 years of use. Whether by using an electric heater, forced air heater, or by simply moving the aircraft to a warmed hanger, the vehicle can easily be heated to an optimal operating temperature.

Vapor Lock & Engine Flooding

If above average heat temperatures are present within the engine when immediately powered down, it can lead to fuel vaporization or “vapor lock” within the injector lines. In order to get rid of the vaporized substance to make way for the continual flow of fuel, more liquid fuel should be forced into the engine. Due to the lack of visibility within these components, vapor lock often leads to engine flooding.

Too Many Start Attempts

Depending on the model, many aircraft come manufactured with differing engine starters and starter limits. Frequently coming in the form of electrical starter systems, as engines produce heat when actuated, repeated cranking of the starter can result in part damage if not given sufficient time to cool down. To best avoid this issue, it is best to give your starter cooling time between each attempt.

Whether you are an experienced pilot or are getting to learn the craft behind aviation engineering, Limitless Purchasing is here to help you find the parts you are in need of. We are your trustworthy source for numerous fuel injector lines, starter systems, pistons, heaters, and various other supplies and components. Due to our quality control and export compliance, we operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. If you would like to request a quote for your comparisons, you can submit an RFQ form as provided on our website. Upon receipt, a dedicated account manager will quickly review and respond with a personalized solution to your needs in just 15 minutes or less, 24/7x365.


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