Rototiller Troubleshooting & Repair

Rototillers are small, gas-powered machines that turn or cultivate soil in a garden using tines or blades. Using a rototiller makes difficult soil manageable for planting. Knowing the correct way to troubleshoot a rototiller engine and repair it safely will ensure the machine works every season without any headaches.

Farmer tilling soil with rototiller
credit: Jupiterimages/ Images


If the engine will not start, make sure that your rototiller has enough fuel and oil. Check the levels and fill accordingly. If the fuel and oil are fine, check the spark plugs to make sure they are giving a spark. Do not attempt to start a rototiller engine without the spark plug or with the plug wire removed. Find a spark plug tester at your local hardware store for testing. Replace the spark plug if necessary. If the engine is getting hot, have a look at the muffler and cooling fan area. Remove any excess debris to help cool the engine. Check the air filter if the engine will not start. See if it is clogged with dirt or debris. If the engine of your tiller is running too high at idle, adjust the idle screw on the engine. This can be found by referencing your owner's manual.

Tines and Blades

Remove any debris from the tines or blades if they are not moving. Large chunks of debris or stone can prevent adequate movement from the rototiller. If the blades or tines are moving awkwardly, look for any bend in the blades. If they are bent, they should be replaced immediately with appropriate blades for your model. Bent blades can cause damage to the rest of the machine. If the blades are not moving properly due to being loose, tighten the bolt that holds them in place. If the blades are not moving, check the cord that goes from the blade trigger to the blades themselves. Check for any damage and that it is attached securely.


When doing any troubleshooting or repair on your rototiller, make sure the engine is turned off. The blades could begin turning when the engine is switched on if the safety switch for the blades is broken. Wear gloves when working with the blades or any area that is sharp. Wear eye and ear protection when the rototiller is running to prevent injury. For safe use, and as an essential part of troubleshooting, always check the rototiller before use for any loose bolts or bent equipment. Only work on repairs and maintenance when the rototiller has had time to cool off.

Cleveland Van Cecil

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer since 2008 and has published extensively online, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.