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My Scooter Won't Start!

Gene Merideth Lambretta Lambretta Technical Help Vespa Vespa Technical Help

A few months of un-prepped winter storage, the first day of 65 degree weather, and a desire to ride don't always go well together. If you put your scooter away in good running condition, and now that its time to grab a quick ride on a warm winter day, and it won't start. Here are some simple things to check so your day isn't ruined!

Keeping in mind that two-stroke scooters require 3 simple things to run, its easy to check through them quickly to see where your starting problem might lie. Air. Spark. Gas. In most cases, either a new spark plug, or just a quick clean of the pilot jet will get you back on the road.

  •  Air. Two or three months isn't normally enough time for some small animal to take up residence in your scooter and block the air hose with acorns. So it is probably not air flow to the carburettor.
  • Spark. Remove your spark plug cap, then unscrew the spark plug (check the end for gas see below). Push the cap back onto the spark plug, and holding the HT lead while dangling the spark plug with its sparking end resting on something metal, gently kick the scooter over. You should see a spark. If you don't, make sure the ignition is turned on and any kill switch turned off and try again. Still no spark, try another plug. Still no spark, check your points gap if you have points. If you still don't have a spark, check your HT Lead to make sure it isn't loose. If you still don't have spark the problem could be something more involved, for example - wires loose internally, a coil has gone bad, etc all things you wouldn't expect if your scooter was running when you put it away for the winter.
  • Gas. If you have turned on the ignition switch, opened the choke, opened the fuel valve and tried to start your scooter and its not starting, the first thing to check for is spark (see above) and gas flow. When you first remove your spark plug, you can also check the end of it to see if it is wet with gas. If it is not, then the culprit could very well be (and is in many cases) a blocked pilot jet or more rarely, blocked fuel line. On both Vespa and Lambretta you can check fuel flow by loosening the inlet banjo *briefly* to see if fuel flows out. Open the fuel tank to check that the breather hole in the gas cap hasn't corroded over. When a scooter sits, any gas in the carb will evaporate over time, leaving behind a residue, particularly bad in pre-mix scooters, but not limited to just them. The pilot jet is easy to get to on most stock, older Vespa and Lambretta and involves just a couple tools. Vespa: a regular screwdriver will remove the cover, filter and the pilot jet so you can get it out to clean. Lambretta: a regular screwdriver to loosen the air hose, then a 8mm socket to undo the carb clamp, wiggle it off and then a regular screwdriver to under the bowl. On a Vespa the pilot jet is the smaller of the two jets near the big opening On a Lambretta the pilot jet is the one on the far left if you are looking at the carb in its mounted position. Another way to tell is that it is not the one in the middle, nor the one under the choke mechanism. To clean the jet, you need to be very careful, as the part that is blocked is the tip of the jet, similar to the pointed tip of a needle. To clean this out, you can, very gently, use a single strand of old cable, preferably an old throttle cable as the strands are thinner. Just poke it in the hole to clean the gunk out. Don't wiggle it about too much, or run the cable strand through repeatedly or you will damage the jet and could cause other problems. Reassemble, check your tire pressures, and go for a ride!

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  • Robrt on

    Had the stator plate done got spark and petrol still won’t start

  • tony on

    my plagglo vespa et4 will not start cant get petrol to the carb

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