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How to clean a motorcycle carburetor without taking it apart

There are plenty of motorcycle issues that can be traced back to the carburetor being too dirty, so it is essential to give it a good cleaning from time to time. Before we can tell you how to clean a carburetor without taking it apart, you should first take the time to make a few safety checks.

First, you will need to make sure that you have turned off the gas and that the motorcycle is cold. You will also need to wear mechanics’ gloves since the gas and the carb cleaner are harsh to the skin. Lastly, it is always best to have a fire extinguisher nearby when working on your bike, just to be on the safe side.

Before you begin cleaning the carb, you will need to move the bike to an area where the floor is clean and clear so that you don’t risk losing small parts from the carburetor. You may also want to get a plain-color cloth and drape it on the floor.

The cloth will absorb any gas or carb cleaner that may seep from the carburetor, and it can also help you catch small parts if you happen to drop them.

To clean the carb without removing it, you will first need to remove the airbox or the pod filters. The carburetor is located behind the engine and close to the center of the motorcycle.

Removing the air intake filters will give you unhindered access to the back of the carburetor so that you can easily see the butterfly valve opening and closing when you are turning the throttle.

There’s no need to worry when removing the air intake filters since this is a procedure that is very easy to do, and once you are finished cleaning the carb, you will be able to reinstall them back in just a few minutes.

With the air intake filters out of the way, you can begin to remove the bowl that is located at the bottom of the carburetor. There should be a central bolt or a few screws located at the base of the carburetor. If you are not certain, you should refer to your motorcycle owner’s manual for more information.

You will need to take off the bolt or the screws slowly. These are very simple to take off, but you will need to turn the petcock to the ‘off’ position before you do it since otherwise, gas will start to leak out. It is normal to have a bit of gas leak once you take the bottom bowl off, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you have a piece of cloth or paper towels handy.

Once the bowl is off, you can begin to spray some cleaner inside the carb. You can use the WD-40 Specialist carburetor body cleaner or any other similar solvent-based cleaner. The important thing is that the cleaner needs to be able to remove carbon deposits, grime, and oil. 

You should do a couple of sprays every few minutes so that you can give the dirt and grime enough time to become loose. Once you feel satisfied with the results, you can reattach the bowl and start the motorcycle.

If this helps your bike run well again, then you can reattach the air intake filters and call it a day. If doing this basic cleaning doesn’t seem to give the results that you were looking for, you will need to remove the bowl again and start doing a thorough cleaning.


How to clean a very dirty motorcycle carburetor without removing it

After removing the bowl again, you will also need to remove the float, which is held in place by a small pin. You will simply need to push the pin out, and the float will come out. You will notice that there is a little valve connecting to it. These two parts will come off together.

Now is a good time to give the float a good clean, and you can also test it to see if it is still in good shape by plunging it in a container filled with water and thus see if it floats. If the two parts don’t float, you will need to purchase replacements.

With the float off, you will need to get a good look inside the carburetor until you can notice the jets. They look like two bolts that have holes in the center. These are the components that cause most carb blockages, and it is essential to keep them clean.

Get the carb cleaner of your choice, spray liberally, and try to direct as much of the spray into the jets as you can. Leave them to soak for a few minutes so that the cleaner has enough time to blast away through the grime.

Next, you should use a compressed air line or a can of pressurized air to blow through the jets. If there is still a bit of gunk left, you should repeat the previous step and spray the jets until they are completely clean.

If everything goes well, this will be enough to clear the blockage, and you can put the carb back together and start the bike. Should this still not solve your problem, you will, unfortunately, need to take the carbs off to clean.

The best way to clean motorcycle carbs is still to take the entire thing apart, and this is the most effective way to remove serious blockages. If you don’t feel comfortable removing the carburetor, you should have it looked at by a professional mechanic or bring a friend to help you out.


How often will you need to clean the carburetor?

As a general rule, it is recommended to get the carburetor tuned once every two years or so, and apart from that, there is no other type of routine maintenance that you need to perform on this essential component.

However, when scheduling routine carb maintenance, one also ought to consider how often he or she rides the motorcycle. If you use the bike regularly, you will require far less cleaning sessions since regular rides act as a cleaning mechanism, removing the gunk in the process.

For people who ride their bike less regularly, taking the carburetor apart can be a pain, which is why it is a good strategy to clean it out only when you feel like it needs it, or you can use our guide and learn how to clean motorcycle carbs without removing them. It is less time-consuming, and it can keep the carb in working condition.

If you ride less, you will notice that grime and dirt will build inside the carb much more quickly, and in this case, you may need to clean it every few months.


How can you tell when your carb needs to be cleaned?

This is not something that you should worry about since carburetors are very good at telling the rider when they need to be cleaned, sometimes to a fault. As we talked about earlier, the jets are the parts that tend to get clogged most often, and they can lead to mechanical bike problems.

Some signs that you should be mindful of include backfiring, poor idling, sputtering, or the bike running poorly in general. All of these are very common signs that your carburetor is dirty, and it needs to be cleaned ASAP.

Other components can cause the aforementioned problems, but in the vast majority of cases, they can all be traced back to a dirty carburetor.


How does a dirty carburetor affect your motorcycle?

A dirty carburetor will impact the fuel flow inside the engine, which, in turn, will affect the acceleration of the bike. Thus, if you want to let your bike accelerate to its full potential, it is crucial to clean the carb regularly so that the fuel can flow faster into the engine.

The dirt and grime inside the carb can also impact the fuel efficiency of the bike, which will result in more fuel usage. In this case, cleaning the carb frequently will help you get more mileage per gallon of gas, which, in the long term, will help you save quite a bit of money.

Lastly, a dirty carb can also make it more difficult to start the engine. If you’ve ever had trouble getting the bike going in the morning or after the motorcycle has been stored for a while, this may be a sign that the dirty carb is preventing the fuel from flowing straight into your engine, which is necessary for a quick start.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to learn how to clean the motorcycle carbs without removing them. Once you get comfortable with this process, with time, you might even find the courage to go all the way and take the carb apart yourself. Take a look below if you want to get an idea of what it takes to learn how to clean a Harley carburetor by taking it apart.


Is taking the carburetor apart difficult?

Learning how to clean a dirt bike carb without taking it off can save you a lot of time and effort, and in most cases, this is all that your need to do to get your bike back into working condition. However, as we mentioned before, sometimes the carb is too dirty, and a quick clean is simply not enough.

This can be because there is simply too much grime, or there may be another underlying issue with it that you can’t see without taking the carburetor off the motorcycle. It is understandable if you find this intimidating, but the good news is that the internet is filled with videos that can make the entire process so much easier to undertake.

Once you have removed the carburetor, it will be much easier to clean the grime, even from the hard-to-reach places. For the best results, it is recommended to use an ultrasonic cleaner, particularly since these devices can now be found for cheap online or in most home improvement and auto stores.

All you will need to do is get an ultrasonic cleaning solution and place the carburetor parts inside the cleaner, turn it on, and let it do its job. It is very easy since the ultrasonic technology will do all the cleaning for you. You will only need to place the components inside the cleaner. There’s no need to clean them before or after.

The one thing that you will need to keep in mind is that most ultrasonic cleaners produce a high ringing sound when functioning, so you will need to use the device in the garage since if you use it in a room that you plan to stay in, the sound may annoy you.

If you don’t want to invest in an ultrasonic cleaner, you can use some elbow grease and clean all the carburetor parts using a wire brush and your cleaner of choice. You will need to clean each part individually to make sure that all the dirt and debris have been removed.

After you’ve cleaned the parts, you should dry them using compressed air. Before you start to put the carburetor back together, you should inspect the gaskets and the O-rings to see if they look worn out. If they do, you should purchase new ones.



A passionate admirer of all-leather Harley merchandise, Irina can help readers better understand the world of motorcycles. From the latest fashion trends to trip ideas for your next bike vacay, you will find everything you need to know about your two-wheel passion on this website.

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