5 Reasons Why Your RV Generator Won’t Start and How to Fix It


Picture this: you’re in the great outdoors, nestled in your cozy RV with your family, and it’s time to fire up the generator for some much-needed electricity.

You turn the key, and…nothing. Silence. The generator won’t start. You’re now stuck in the wilderness without power, and all your best-laid plans are in jeopardy.

It’s a nightmare scenario that has played out for many RV owners, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Understanding the importance of a functioning RV generator, the common reasons it might not start, and how to troubleshoot the issues can save your trip and keep your family comfortable and happy.

Preliminary Checks

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of troubleshooting your RV generator, let’s start with the basics. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best one, and addressing obvious issues can save you time, effort, and frustration.

In this section, we’ll cover some preliminary checks you should perform and why consulting your owner’s manual is crucial.

A. Checking for Obvious Issues

Imagine being Mike and his family, who had just arrived at their favorite campground for a weekend getaway.

After setting up their RV, they tried to start their generator, but it wouldn’t budge. Frustrated, they spent hours trying to figure out what was wrong, only to realize they had never turned the generator switch on in the first place!

It’s a simple mistake, but it’s a reminder that it’s essential to check for the most apparent issues first.

Here are some preliminary checks to consider before diving into more complicated troubleshooting:

  1. Generator switch: Ensure the generator switch is turned on. It’s an obvious step but easily overlooked.
  2. Sufficient fuel: Check your fuel levels. An empty or nearly empty tank could be the culprit. Remember that some generators require a minimum amount of fuel in the main tank (usually about 1/4) to operate.
  3. Fuel valve: Make sure the fuel valve is open, allowing fuel to flow into the generator.
  4. Breakers and fuses: Check for any tripped breakers or blown fuses in your RV’s electrical system.
  5. Battery connections: Inspect the battery connections for tightness and signs of corrosion. Clean and tighten as necessary.
  6. Emergency stop: If your generator has an emergency stop switch, ensure it’s not engaged.

B. Importance of Consulting the Owner’s Manual

Your RV generator’s owner’s manual is a treasure trove of information. It contains vital details about your generator’s operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

Each generator model is different, so consulting your specific manual is crucial for accurate information.

Here’s why it’s essential to consult your owner’s manual:

  1. Model-specific information: Your manual contains information tailored to your specific generator model, ensuring accuracy and relevance.
  2. Troubleshooting guidance: Most manuals include a troubleshooting section to help you diagnose and resolve common issues.
  3. Maintenance schedule: Regular maintenance is vital to keep your generator running smoothly. Your manual will provide a recommended maintenance schedule to follow.
  4. Safety precautions: Your owner’s manual will outline essential safety precautions to take when operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting your generator.

Always start with preliminary checks and consult your owner’s manual before diving into more complex troubleshooting.

Addressing obvious issues and following your manual’s guidance can save you time, effort, and unnecessary stress.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Now that you’ve performed preliminary checks and consulted your owner’s manual, it’s time to dive into troubleshooting common issues that may be preventing your RV generator from starting.

We’ll break down these issues into five categories: fuel-related, battery-related, starter-related, ignition-related, and air intake and exhaust problems.

Fuel-related issues are among the most common reasons for a generator not starting. Here are some typical problems and how to address them:

1. Stale Fuel

Fuel doesn’t last forever. Gasoline can begin to degrade after just 30 days, while diesel can last up to a year. If you haven’t used your generator for a while, stale fuel could be the issue.

Solution: Drain the old fuel from the tank and replace it with fresh fuel. Adding a fuel stabilizer can help extend the fuel’s shelf life.

2. Clogged Fuel Lines or Filters

Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate in your fuel lines and filters, restricting fuel flow and preventing the generator from starting.

Solution: Inspect and clean or replace fuel lines and filters as needed.

3. Faulty Fuel Pump

A failing fuel pump can result in insufficient fuel delivery to the generator’s engine.

Solution: Test the fuel pump for proper function using a fuel pressure gauge. If it’s not working correctly, replace it.

4. Empty Fuel Tank

It may sound obvious, but an empty fuel tank is a common reason for a generator not to start.

Solution: Check your fuel levels and refill as necessary.

A generator needs a strong battery to start. Here are some battery-related issues that could prevent your generator from starting:

1. Dead or Weak Battery

A dead or weak battery might not provide enough power to crank the generator’s engine.

Solution: Test the battery using a multimeter or battery tester. If it’s weak or dead, recharge or replace it.

2. Loose or Corroded Connections

Loose or corroded connections can impede the flow of electricity from the battery to the starter.

Solution: Inspect and clean battery terminals and connections. Tighten any loose connections.

3. Faulty Battery Charger

If your RV’s built-in battery charger is malfunctioning, it might not be charging the battery correctly.

Solution: Test the battery charger using a multimeter. If it’s not working properly, replace it.

A functioning starter system is essential for turning the generator’s engine. Here are some starter-related issues and their solutions:

1. Faulty Starter Motor

A bad starter motor might not crank the engine.

Solution: Test the starter motor using a multimeter. If it’s not working correctly, replace it.

2. Damaged Starter Solenoid

A damaged starter solenoid can prevent the flow of electricity to the starter motor.

Solution: Test the starter solenoid using a multimeter. If it’s not working correctly, replace it.

3. Worn or Damaged Teeth on the Flywheel

Worn or damaged teeth on the flywheel can prevent the starter motor from engaging and turning the engine.

Solution: Inspect the flywheel for damaged teeth. If necessary, replace the flywheel.

Proper ignition is crucial for the generator’s engine to start. Here are some ignition-related issues and their solutions:

1. Damaged or Worn Spark Plugs

Old or damaged spark plugs can prevent the engine from starting.

Solution: Inspect the spark plugs for signs of wear or damage. Clean or replace them as necessary.

2. Faulty Ignition Coil

A faulty ignition coil can result in a weak or non-existent spark, preventing the engine from starting.

Solution: Test the ignition coil using a multimeter. If it’s not working correctly, replace it.

E. Air Intake and Exhaust Problems

Proper air intake and exhaust are essential for your generator’s engine to function. Here are some air intake and exhaust issues and their solutions:

1. Clogged Air Filter

A dirty or clogged air filter can restrict airflow to the engine, making it difficult to start.

Solution: Inspect the air filter and clean or replace it if necessary.

2. Blocked Exhaust

A blocked exhaust can cause backpressure in the engine, preventing it from starting.

Solution: Inspect the exhaust system for blockages, such as debris or a damaged muffler. Clear any blockages and repair or replace damaged components as needed.

By understanding and addressing these common issues, you’ll be well on your way to getting your RV generator back up and running.

Remember, regular maintenance is crucial to prevent many of these problems in the first place. Always consult your owner’s manual for guidance and prioritize safety when working on your generator.

With a bit of knowledge and some elbow grease, you’ll be ready to tackle whatever challenges your RV generator throws your way.


Is there a problem with Generac generators?

Generac generators are generally reliable, but like any generator, they may encounter issues over time. Common problems include battery failure, fuel issues, and component wear. Regular maintenance can help prevent these issues and keep your generator running smoothly.

Why do Generac generators fail?

Generac generators can fail for various reasons, such as low fuel levels, clogged filters, worn components, or dead batteries. However, regular maintenance and addressing potential issues can prevent generator failure and prolong its lifespan.

How long will a Generac generator last?

The lifespan of a Generac generator depends on the model, usage, and maintenance. However, a generator can last many years with proper care, providing reliable power when needed. Regularly checking fluids, filters, and components helps ensure a long-lasting generator.

What is the major problem of a generator?

The major problem of a generator is often a lack of maintenance, leading to issues like fuel clogs, component wear, and overheating. Regularly inspecting your generator and addressing potential problems can prevent costly breakdowns and ensure reliable power generation.

Is there a generator better than Generac?

There are various generator brands available, including diesel and natural gas generators. The best generator for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Comparing features, performance, and customer reviews can help you determine which generator best fits your situation.

What is the most common generator failure?

The most common generator failure is often related to fuel issues, such as low fuel levels or clogged fuel lines. Proper fuel management and regular maintenance can prevent fuel-related problems and keep your generator running efficiently.

John S.

Hello guys! I'm a 37-years-old author, traveler, writer, blogger, and a camper. I enjoy life as much as I can and love to visit beautiful places in my RV. That's why while traveling I have decided to dedicate some time to share my experiences with everyone that might be interested in traveling, camping, and RVs.

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