We killed our Champion generator. Here's how you can avoid our same mistake.

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We Killed our Brand-New Generator. Here’s how you can avoid that.

Generators are fragile creatures. We learned that the hard way, when our Champion generator refused to start, despite our efforts to change the spark plug, the oil and even removing the low-oil sensor(a common problem in generators.)

We took it to a small-engine repair shop and were told we should purchase a new one. It wasn’t an obvious problem, and just tearing the engine open would cost us half of the price of a new one, not to mention if the motor was shot we’d need a new one, anyway.

What did we do wrong? We had no idea, but we purchased a small, used generator to get us through the nights ahead. How could our brand-new, well-rated Champion generator, with less than 100 hours refused to start up?

Generators are fragile and we didn’t know how to properly care for one. They need care, other than dumping gas and oil into them, which was all we were doing. We did finally find out what killed it, initially. We didn’t change the break-in oil, as advised in the manual.

When generators are manufactured, there’s often metal shavings in the engine, which come out in that first initial break-in oil. Our manual advised us to run the generator for a few hours, then change this break-in oil. It didn't help that we weren't giving the generator basic maintenance we didn't know it needed. This was a huge mistake we learned the hard way from.

How can you avoid these critical mistakes? Read your manual. We re-purchased the same Champion, deciding to give it another try, and, upon reading the manual this time, we learned that we were making catastrophic mistakes in caring for our generator:

We weren’t checking the oil right.

With this generator, you’re not supposed to screw in the oil cap to check the oil. You’re only supposed to dip it. We only learned this, after reading it in the manual of our second generator. We were running the first one with low oil, a huge no-no for generators.

We weren’t shutting the engine down correctly.

The supposed best way to shut the engine down is by unplugging the RV plug, or flipping the voltage switch, then hitting the off-switch. We weren’t supposed to just flip the generator off, which we were doing all the time.

We weren’t starting the engine correctly.

Again, the supposed correct way of starting the generator is to leave the voltage switch flipped off, or unplugging the RV completely, then pull the start cord. We were starting the first generator with the RV plugged in and on.

We weren’t using the choke correctly.

We made a call to Champion customer service, who advised us that the generator should only ever be switched to “choke” on the first pull. After the generator quit, we were using choke at all times, trying to get it to fire up. I’m not sure what this did, but I am sure it did not help.

Every generator brand and type, I’m sure, has different care recommendations, so be sure to read your manual. Read every word, front to back. We read tips from others while doing our research, but failed to read the actual maker’s warnings and guides. This is a mistake that cost us money and time, but that’s why we’re here at OurAppalachianHomestead.com, to share our mistakes with others, in hopes they can learn from them.


Our new one is working GREAT, now that we're properly maintaining it and caring for it. If you're interested, you can check out the same generator, here. It pulls great and it has excellent reviews!

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